Duterte donates 1-month salary for Covid-19 response

President Rodrigo Duterte has opted to donate his one-month salary to raise the national government’s emergency funds allocated to curtail the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country, Malacañang said on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the announcement, as he confirmed that most members of Duterte’s Cabinet have pledged to cut 75 percent of their monthly salaries from the month of April to December to help the government step up its fight against Covid-19.

“The President is likewise donating his one-month salary for the cause,” Panelo said in a press statement.

Following the signing of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act on March 24, Duterte can now tap PHP275-billion emergency funds to address the Covid-19 threat in the Philippines.

On Saturday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said majority of Cabinet members have pledged to donate 75 percent of their monthly wages to boost funding for countermeasures against Covid-19.

Panelo said some Cabinet secretaries have volunteered a salary deduction for the whole duration of the state of public health emergency to effectively halt the spread of the new pathogen.

“Other officials with the rank of secretaries are similarly giving portions of their respective salaries to boost the collective fight against the dreadful disease,” he said.

On March 8, Duterte signed Proclamation 299, placing the entire Philippines under a state of public health emergency.

The declaration of a state of public health emergency, which remains in effect unless lifted by Duterte, allows the government to immediately act on Covid-19 pandemic and utilize appropriate resources to implement measures to contain the coronavirus.

Apart from Cabinet secretaries, Panelo noted that assistant secretaries from his office have likewise committed to donate at least 10 percent of their income directly to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) this month.

OCD, through Administrative Order 27 inked by Duterte on March 31, has been tasked as the main coordinating body to manage all the donations for Covid-19 response.

“Assistant secretaries of the Offices of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson will continue providing financial and relief assistance from their salaries to groups who are at the front line of this health crisis in the succeeding months,” said Panelo, who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

Panelo said the Palace was also pleased to know that the two other branches of the government have their own program of helping the battle against Covid-19.

“We acknowledge the support given by various heads of offices and agencies in their personal capacities to thwart the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

One of the measures being implemented by the national government to arrest the spread of Covid-19 is the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in the island of Luzon. The measure is set to expire on April 12.

Panelo expressed confidence that the country would be successful in its fight against Covid-19.

“In the meantime, we call on our countrymen to be steadfast in our commitment to take care of each other in this imminent threat to our nation’s survival,” he said. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)