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Salceda proposes new cash transfer scheme for COVID-affected Luzon residents

House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson Joey Salceda is proposing a new system in the cash transfer program for residents of Luzon affected by the ongoing enhanced community quarantine to stop the further spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“My office is proposing a reconfiguration of existing cash transfer programs, habang hindi pa naka-session ang Kongreso," Salceda said in a statement.

"I am still advocating for supplemental appropriations. But for now, this proposal will provide immediate relief,” he added.

In his proposal, which he calls the "Pantawid Family Quarantine," Salceda said existing beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Luzon will be given a 13th-month 4Ps grant in advance worth P2.54 million during the quarantine period.

At the same time, a full-year payment of the Unconditional Cash Transfer of P3,600 for each of the 6.2 million households in Luzon covered by program will be made in advance, he added.

"These two combined will benefit more than 8 million families, or two-thirds out of the 12 million with a balance of 4 million families --- the middle-middle class up to the top 10%," Salceda said.

Salceda pointed out that keeping poor people inside their homes during the quarantine means keeping them "within a decent level of subsistence."

In his aide memoire to the House leadership, Salceda said the poorest 20% of the population will not be able to survive the enhanced community quarantine as most of their employment are informal and thus hampered by the restrictions.

“Limas na limas po ang ipon ng mahihirap. Tama po itong desisyon na mag-quarantine. In fact, this will save us 1,565 lives. It could be yours or your loved ones. No lockdown, mass transmission will kill 4.13% of GDP (gross domestic product). A lockdown will decrease GDP by only 2.95%. It saves lives and saves the economy," he said.

"But we will need to support those who will find it hard to comply because their livelihood is at stake," he added.

Meanwhile, Salceda said the government can provide a 30-day paid sick leaves for its employees belonging to "deciles 7 to 9."

According to the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, households who belong to decile 7 to 9 are those who have an average annual income of P259,000 to P415,000.

For those in the private sector, a new law and appropriations are needed to provide them government support, he added.

Salceda reiterated his call to the House leadership and to President Rodrigo Duterte to convene a "virtual" special session of Congress to enact special powers and supplemental budget to address the socio-economic effects of COVID-19.

He also recommended Congress to adopt special powers contained in House Bill 6906, or the proposed measure creating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in addressing the effects of COVID-19. —LDF, GMA News