Valenzuela feels the pinch, seeks additional COVID-19 funds during modified lockdown

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MANILA – The city of Valenzuela is appealing to the national government for additional funds, its mayor said as cities in the metro were placed under a modified lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Rex Gatchalian said an additional internal revenue allotment (IRA) "would be welcome" to help the city feed its residents and sustain its testing and security efforts.

"We're already starting to feel the pinch. No revenues have been coming into the coffers, everything is going out," he told ANC.

"It’s like running an organization with all the cost but no revenues but we have to carry on…We're also appealing to national government to keep us liquid during this time of feeding mass numbers of people."

The city, home to several factories and industries, was able to collect only 33 percent of local revenues before Metro Manila was placed on lockdown in March, Gatchalian said.

"It’s getting tighter and tighter… We were never able to collect our real property tax which was supposed to come in March," he said.

Metro Manila mayors are still awaiting which industries are allowed to operate at half-capacity during the modified lockdown, Gatchalian said.

"We probably host more than our fair share of local industries and it’s very important for us to know which industries we can open up so we can jumpstart not just the local economy but the economy of other cities that rely on the factories here in Valenzuela for their supplies," he said.

"Sana lahat, hopefully all because everybody wants to go back and become productive again but if we were to choose of course, food industry so we can start refilling our groceries."

Gatchalian said the city government has passed a series of measures on the "new normal" such as strengthening universally accepted practices of wearing a mask, handwashing, maintaining proper hygiene until a vaccine for the disease has been developed.

The city is also "aggressive" in its testing efforts with a daily average of 275 tests, he added. As of Wednesday, the city has 144 cases of COVID-19, with 33 recoveries and 8 deaths, according to the mayor.

"Even if the economy opens up, we’re not going to relent on our testing, treating and isolating," he said.

The city was among 3 local governments that completed its cash aid distribution before the social welfare department's deadline, Gatchalian said.

"We’re liquidating it as we speak. The second (tranche) will be a lot faster because there’s already a list," he said.

Residents are also receiving food vouchers until May 21, Gatchalian said, after which the local government will reassess if there would be another set of distribution.

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