President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his address from the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang complex on March 30, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to launch the biggest social protection program in the country’s history, three weeks into the economic shutdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Duterte said he would spend P200 billion to help poor households and displaced workers in an address that aired shortly before midnight.

“We have allotted 200 billion pesos for low-income households who are badly affected by the current crisis. Sila ang nasa informal sector and those who live day-to-day on subsistence wages or ‘no-work, no-pay’ arrangements. Beneficiary-households will receive emergency support for two months based on the regional minimum wage,” the president said in a taped message from the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang complex.

“Ang mga mayaman, hindi na kasali (Those who are rich are not included),” he said.

Still, Duterte appealed “to those who have more in life … to share in the cost of taking care of the less fortunate and keeping our society intact.”

He said the government would also provide a recovery package for micro, small, and medium enterprises and come up with quick-response measures to help farmers and our fisherfolk. “We have not forgotten you,” the president said.

The relief measures were authorized under the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” the emergency law rushed by Congress last week.

Duterte said he would do everything in his power to make sure no one goes hungry.

“The government is also ensuring the unhampered flow of cargo and their workers to maintain the continuous and steady supply of food, goods and other essential supplies and items. A price freeze on commodities is already in effect and measures to curtail hoarding and profiteering are also in place,” he said.

Duterte thanked donors, reading from a list the names of businessmen and foreign governments. Conspicuously absent was Vice President Leni Robredo, who has raised more than P36 million in funds to buy protective equipment for health care workers.

The president expressed gratitude to the following:

• Government of China

• Government of Singapore

• NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) led by Bigboy Sy (Henry Sy Jr.) and Robert Coyuito

• Ramon Ang

• Enrique Razon

• Manny Pangilinan

• Lucio Tan and Michael Tan

• Simeon Heo of [Shopee] Philippines

• Century Peak Corporation

• [Joji] Gotianun-Yap

• Udenna Foundation of Dennis Uy

• Robert Seng

• Archie Po

• PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) headed by Andrea Domingo

• The World Health Organization

• Mammoth Foundation China

• Jack Ma

• Ciriaco Lopez

• Global Fund

• [Americares] Foundation


• Aboitiz Foundation

• D&L Corporation

• Golden Topper

• Landers Superstore

• Unilab Foundation

• Alliance Global

• Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation

• Temasek Foundation.

“On behalf of the Filipino people, I thank you [for your] compassion and your generosity, and my personal gratitude,” Duterte said.

The country’s Covid-19 death toll rose to 78 on Monday. Confirmed cases of infection increased to 1,546 as the government ramped up testing. (