The Asian Development Bank has lauded the Duterte administration for its “proactive and preemptive” response to the coronavirus pandemic as it reassured the Philippines of its full support for the nation’s efforts to defeat this fast-spreading disease.
Underlining the ADB’s full backing for the heightened government efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 and provide relief especially to the most affected Filipino families, ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa announced the initial delivery of a $3-million grant for the state purchase of medical supplies for health workers.
Asakawa said the regonal development lender has also approved an emergency grant of $5 million for Manila to leverage private-sector donations for a food distribution program that would be implemented as early as next week to benefit Luzon’s poorest households.
The food distribution program is being implemented in coordination with the DoF, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development and of the Interior and Local Government, and the Armed Forces, Asakawa said.
Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III said this program would “dovetail very quickly with the Philippine government’s own efforts to supply cash funds” to the poorest families most affected by the stringent measures put in place to defeat COVID-19.
A $100-million emergency project loan to quickly set up additional healthcare facilities and procure much-needed equipment such as medical ventilators and protective gear for frontline health workers is also being worked out by the ADB with the Departments of Finance and of Health to speed up its implementation, the ADB chief said.
The regional development bank also committed to accelerate the approval of a $1.0-billion quick budget support loan through the proposed new COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option under the Counter Cyclical Support Facility.
Another $150-million financing from the ADB under the ongoing Social Protection Support Project will also provide additional support for the Philippines’ Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program, he aid.
In his conversation with Dominguez, Asakawa commended the Philippine government for its “proactive and preemptive response in containing the community transmission of COVID-19.”
“You have put in place strong social distancing measures that have proven to work elsewhere. Many other of our developing member-countries and advanced nations are now taking similar measures to the Philippines, as the virus takes hold in their communities,” he said.
The DoF chief thanked Pthe ADB chief for the bank’s swift response to Manila’s call for assistance in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, as he called on the bank to provide the country additional support under its Countercyclical Support Facility-Pandemic Response Option, and a technical assistance to help the government map out a comprehensive plan to bounce back from the economic impact of the global health crisis.
“Thank you very much. Again, I would like to emphasize that all of these are very welcome and we trust that you will be provided the flexibility to respond to this emergency,” Secretary Dominguez said.
The Finance chief said the government would need technical assistance from the ADB in helping the government plan for a recovery or “bounce back” program that would primarily benefit the country’s workforce.
“What good will be a stimulus if there are no workers. We must think of the workers first. So, we need measures in order for the Philippines to bounce back for the inevitable turnaround. And we would like to ask technical assistance from ADB for that,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Asakawa also vowed to quicken ADB approval of its $500-million project loan for the Expanded Social Assistance Project to support the 4Ps program.
The ADB is also working on a $500-million Contingent Disaster Facility to expand its coverage to health emergencies, he added.