Feature: Food security amid pandemic

Manila PIO photo

The implementation of the enhaced community quarantine (ECQ) also means that City of Manila residents would be needing assistance once again.

Fortunately, Manila already has an ongoing COVID-19 Food Security Program (FSP), which began in February this year.

"We created COVID-19 FSP even without the categorization of quarantine. This is meant to cushion the socioeconomic impact of this pandemic. It so happened na nagkaroon tayo ng ECQ kaya timing naman," Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso said.

Under the FSP, food boxes — which contain three kilos of rice, 16 pieces of canned goods, and eight sachets of coffee — are distributed to around 700,000 families in the city every month.

The Manila LGU was already able to do this for the months of February and March in line with mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Philippine economy.

“Uunahin na muna natin ang tao sa lungsod ng Maynila,” Domagoso told his constituents.

"Now, within the week, we might start to give food items again," Mayor Isko added, and Manila did just that. The city has once again started the distribution of COVID-19 FSP food boxes on Thursday, April 8. This marked the third straight month of the distribution of FSP food boxes.

Addressing the public in media interview earlier, Domagoso stated, "Baka makaramdam kayo ng lubak sa Maynila na halos dalawang taon. Pero huwag n'yo intindihin ang kalsada. Ang importante ay ‘yung bituka. Walang magugutom sa Maynila."

Domagoso had previously explained that the City of Manila's budget had to be realigned to finance the FSP. Initially, P3 billion had been allocated for the program in the City of Manila's 2021 budget. Last month, Domagoso signed an ordinance allotting an additional P1,427 billion for the FSP.

Domagoso explained that he and the Manila City Council decided to temporarily postpone some road projects in order to prioritize the FSP.

As for the aid from the National Government, Domagoso explained that identifying who would be entitled to it was based on the list of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) beneficiaries and waitlisted beneficiaries. The list, provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Domagoso stated, "Pinapasama 'yung PWDs and solo parents. As of yesterday, we have more or less 366,000 possible beneficiaries based on the list given to us by the DSWD."

Under the latest ECQ aid plan, eligible Filipinos will get P1,000 worth of cash or goods each, while families can receive a maximum of P4,000 — or only up to four individuals receiving the P1,000 each.

Domagoso said that the LGU has decided to give cash to the beneficiaries. "Cash po para may elbow room yung mga kababayan natin. Meron silang choices kung ano ang importante para sila ay makapamili kung anong uunahing pangangailangan," he stated.

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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