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  • President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation on Monday night, March 30, 2020, nearly eight hours after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that he would be giving a televised message.

    The 25-minute speech was spent thanking frontliners, local government units (LGU)s, foreign governments, and local and foreign businessmen for helping the national government fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Duterte also thanked Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for clearly outlining the duties and responsibilities of each department under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.

    In the video message, Duterte said that he has retained only two powers from the law he enacted one week ago: “One is the power to direct the operation of private establishments. The other is the power to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials and services necessary for the crisis,” he said, adding that he would exercise these powers only when absolutely necessary.

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    Help for low-income households and businesses

     To overcome the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Duterte stressed that the government is undertaking key measures with three main priorities: First, providing emergency assistance to affected sectors; second, securing facilities for resources for the health sector; and third, performing fiscal and monetary action for the economy.

    “The government is now launching the largest and widest social protection program in our country’s history… to make up for the loss of economic opportunities due to quarantine measures in the place of COVID-19,” the President declared.

    He adds, “We have allotted Php200 billion for low-income households who are badly affected by the current crisis.” He identifies them as part of the informal sector, “those who live day-to-day on subsistence wages or no work, no pay.”

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    Duterte says that the fund will be used to provide emergency support for two months to beneficiary households based on the regional minimum wage.

    Apart from low-income households, the President also said that the government will provide a “recovery package” for micro, small, and medium enterprises “to help deal with the economic effects of this pandemic.”

    He also mentioned farmers and fisherfolk, saying they have not been forgotten. “The government is employing quick response measures to help you during the crisis as well as ensure food productivity, availability and sufficiency during the period of pandemic,” Duterte said.


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    “Walang magugutom”

    “The government is also ensuring the unhampered flow of cargo to maintain the continuous and steady supply of food, goods, and other essential supplies, and items,” Duterte assured.

    The President again mentioned that a price freeze on essential commodities is already in effect. Food packs and essential non-food items are being distributed by LGUs in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, while contaminated areas in Visayas and Mindanao will be given similar assistance. “More will be given to augment the requirement of LGUs in the coming days,” he said.

    “Gagawin ko ang lahat para walang magutom,” Duterte stressed.

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    Lastly, Duterte said that they are deploying government resources to provide health workers “with everything they require so they can save as many lives as possible.” This includes medical supplies, medical devices, and personal protective equipment (PPEs).

    “About 1 million medical protective items are being acquired right now with the government and the private sector working together to purchase the necessary quantities,” he said.

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    The President also addressed the public’s clamor for mass testing. “We are also ramping up our capacity to test more broadly to take a fuller and more accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 in the country. We will also build, operate, and accredit more medical facilities and laboratories in the coming weeks,” he said.

    Learn more about Bayanihan Act here. For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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