The Philippine government has run out of funds to help those directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted on Monday, August 10.
This comes after medical front-liners have called on the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until the end of the month. However, the president said the government would not be able to fund its social programs.
“Ito ang dilemma ko, dito ako (This is my dilemma, I’m here) between the devil and the deep blue sea. Gusto ng mga doktor na i-lockdown kung may mga infected diyan (the doctors want to lock down infected areas),” Duterte said in his public address Monday night.
“Ito namang sa kabila, kailangan natin nang palabasin ‘yung mga tao lalo na sa mga trabaho na kailangan talaga ng bayan — food and everything — and also to move the economy (On the other hand, we have to let people out especially those whose work involve jobs needed by the nation like on food and everything — and also move the economy),” he added.
Duterte said that with the government out of money, Filipinos must go out to work and provide for their needs.
“Alam mo, sa mga doktor, sabihin ko sa inyo. Hindi ko na sila (public) mapigilan, dahil po wala na akong pera na ibigay sa kanila. Kaya kailangan sila lumabas para magtrabaho. I-lockdown ko, ubos na ‘yung pera na ibinigay ng Congress na bigyan kayo ng ayuda. ‘Yung pera panggastos, wala na ako niyan (To the doctors, I will tell you this. I cannot stop the public because I don’t have any money to give them. That’s why they need to go out of their house to work. If I will place again on lockdown, the funds given by Congress for assistance have been depleted. I don’t have money to spend anymore),” he said.
“So I’m telling the doctors, as much as I want to give in to your demands, especially in the matter of lockdown… I want it because I don’t want the contamination to continue…it’s a continuing thing,” he added.
Palace: MECQ extension ‘highly unlikely’
Malacañang, for its part, noted that extending the MECQ in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces would be “highly unlikely.”
“Ang tanong eh kung possible: Ang sagot ko (The question is if it’s possible: My answer is) anything is possible but highly unlikely,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Tuesday, August 11.
However, he stressed that neither the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) nor Duterte have made a final decision on it.
“Ang bottomline po, naubos na po ang ating resources for ayuda (The bottomline is we no longer have resources to give assistance),” Roque said.
As of writing, there are now 139,538 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 2,312 fatalities and 68,432 recoveries.