Sotto asks Congress to pass food subsidy budget

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday is pushing for Congress to pass a food subsidy budget to assist those severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

“I suggest for Congress to pass a food subsidy budget in order to provide for the daily wage earners who lost their income,” Sotto said.

The Senate chief said that while a P500 per day per family would be the ideal subsidy, a P300/ family day assistance will have to do considering the financial constraint that such an additional expenditure would cause the national treasury.

“Compute the NCR poor to be the beneficiaries. Compute the Calabarzon, the Central Luzon (Region 3) poor who will be affected. The rates may vary in the provinces that have access to fish, vegetables and other basic food supplies. In the NCR, the poor do not have access to these,” Sotto said.

Sotto added: “Assuming there are three million poorest of the poor in NCR, with each family consisting of five members. That will be 15 million NCR residents who will be assured that their families will not go hungry while the ECQ is in place.”

The proposed P300/family/day subsidy for 30 days in the NCR will amount to about P27 billion. “The experts can extrapolate depending on the number of poor,” Sotto said.

Sotto said the subsidy scheme can also be applied in other regions that are threatened with limited food supplies because of the “no work, no pay” policy being enforced by private companies.

Sotto said that while he agrees that home quarantine and social distancing is necessary at this time, government should make an exemption and take risks, go on special session amid the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

“Lawmakers should bite the bitter pill in an emergency situation such as this. We need to get on our feet and make sure that our people, especially the poorest of the poor, do not worry about going hungry at a time when they should be focusing their attention on staying healthy,” Sotto said.