MANILA, Philippines — The majority of Cabinet members have pledged to give up 75 percent of their monthly salaries to help the government in its efforts to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country, Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles said yesterday.
Some of them, he added, will go the extra mile by volunteering to donate part of their salaries until December so this could augment government funds for projects to combat COVID-19.
Nograles raised his hand when asked who have vowed to give up part of their salaries, saying he is leaving it to the discretion of his fellow Cabinet members if they would reveal their identities or not.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he will take a pay cut for employees at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) who are currently on a no work, no pay basis.
“Like Singapore pay cut, I am raising my 30% cut in my salary. Again for DFA’s army of no work/no pay people – the backbone & flesh of our basic services. Can’t regularize them; historically DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has refused to add ‘plantilla items’ to DFA budget,” he said in a post on Twitter yesterday.
As spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Nograles announced that the body has approved the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to boost efforts in food security and production.
These include: the augmentation of the existing budget for the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat” (ALPAS) program of the DA to facilitate the early planting season specifically in areas with irrigation; and the recognition of the authority to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to issue quarantine accreditation passes to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to continue supplying agricultural products to critical areas affected by the quarantine.
The IATF also approved the granting of additional budget to the Philippine International Trading Corporation to facilitate government-to-government negotiations for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice to the country and the continued inclusion of rice farmers listed under the DA-FSRF as beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program.
It also convened another sub-technical working group (TWG) composed of concerned agencies to propose information and communications technology solutions in the government’s response to the COVID-19 situation.
Nograles said the health maintenance organizations (HMOs), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and health insurance providers should be considered as part of health frontline services for purposes of exempting their workers in the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
The IATF sub-TWG also include the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Ports Authority as members. – With Janvic Mateo, Edu Punay
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