Congress awaits Duterte's ninth report on use of special powers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to submit to Congress on Monday his ninth report on the special powers granted to him to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Among the key updates expected from the report concerns the distribution of the second tranche of financial assistance to poor families and workers in small businesses.

In his eighth report, Duterte said nearly 17 million indigent families had already received cash aid ranging from ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 from the government. Some 900,000 of the target beneficiaries, however, have yet to receive financial assistance.

Some 2.65 million small business employees, meanwhile, had received the first payout of their ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 subsidy, Duterte said in his previous report.

Malacañang had formally ordered the inclusion of five million more beneficiaries in the second tranche of cash aid for poor families, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 23 million households.

The government has walked back on its proposal to give cash aid only to families under enhanced community quarantine. It would instead consider giving financial assistance to families under the more relaxed general community quarantine.

Much of the country is under GCQ, while Cebu City and Mandaue City are under ECQ. Metro Manila and the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales are under MECQ — considered as a transition phase toward the more relaxed GCQ.

Some small business employees qualified to avail of the small business wage subsidy but who have already received the one-time cash aid from the Labor Department may only get up to ₱3,000, or nothing more, during the second-tranche payout.

Duterte is also expected to give updates on his administration’s spending on programs to address the ongoing crisis, which is partly funded by realignments from savings within the executive department.

Congress granted Duterte additional powers to address the COVID-19 crisis, requiring him to report back to the legislature every week with updates on how his administration is handling the pandemic.