The Philippine government’s emergency cash subsidies to vulnerable households due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be augmented with another $200-million loan approved by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday.

“This global pandemic, of a kind not seen in the last century, has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of Filipinos and could set back the very substantial gains the country has made in reducing poverty in recent years,” said ADB Vice President Ahmed Saeed in a statement.

Saeed said the new loan supports the government’s emergency subsidy program designed to help vulnerable households.

The ADB said its $200-million loan would contribute to the $726 million needed to provide emergency subsidies to poor households in April and May 2020.

The Manila-based lender earlier signed a $1.5-billion loan to help the Philippines’ Covid-19 response.

Two grants were extended last March, amounting to $8 million, to support the delivery of food baskets to at least 140,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, the purchase of emergency medical supplies, and the construction of a new laboratory to increase the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity by 3,000 tests a day.

The ADB is also preparing an Expanded Social Assistance Program to support the government’s medium-term financing of the 4Ps program. (Melo M. Acuña)