House members donate May pay for COVID-19 response, aim for P50 million

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MANILA – Members of the House of Representatives are donating their salaries for next month to boost government funds for response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Saturday. 

Speaking live on Facebook, Cayetano said lawmakers target P50 million and have so far raised P40 million. They then hope to collect aid from friends to double the figure and reach P100 million.

"Yes po, almost 200 congressmen already will donate our full suweldo ng May. Ang target initial is P50 million, I think nasa mahigit P40 million na po tayo ngayon," Cayetano said. 

(Almost 200 congressmen already will donate our full salary for May. Our initial target is P50 million, I think we're at over P40 million now.)

"'Pag umabot ng P50 million, mananawagan din kami sa mga personal namin na mga kaibigan…We hope na umabot ng P100 million," he said. 

(Once we reach P50 million, we will also call on our friends… We hope we reach P100 million.)

He said lawmakers will determine through a hearing on Wednesday, where health and social welfare officials are expected to participate, where best to allocate the funds. 

"So we want to use the money where it will be most effective. May muna ang pinag-usapan namin then hopefully 'di na umabot crisis ng June, pero 'pag umabot pa, then we will make a second call," the Speaker said. 

(We talked about donating our May salary then hopefully the crisis won't last until June, but if it does, then we will make a second call.)

He said lawmakers had earlier used their salaries to provide relief goods and personal protective equipment for health workers in their respective districts. 

Earlier Saturday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Cabinet members were donating up to 75 percent of their salaries for COVID-19 response. 

Sen. Sonny Angara, who is currently battling the disease, earlier donated at least two months of his salary for the cause. 

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 30 announced a P200-billion social amelioration program to provide cash aid to poor families as daily wage earners were displaced by the lockdown in Luzon, where over 50 million people were told to stay at home to prevent further spread of the disease. 

The enhanced community quarantine, which took effect on March 17, entailed the unprecedented suspension of school, public transport and work- except for frontliners- on the northern island group for a month. 

Government has yet to decide whether to lift the quarantine as scheduled on April 12 or extend the lockdown, as some officials have suggested, to effectively contain the fast-spreading virus. 

As of Saturday, the Philippines has confirmed 3,094 cases of the disease, with 57 recoveries and 144 deaths. 

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