DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. (File photo)

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday said he started undergoing self-quarantine after meeting with House appropriations committee chairperson Rep. Eric Yap, who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)

Año began his self-quarantine on Wednesday upon his consultation with the Department of Health (DOH).

“Wala akong physical (contact) sa kanya saka naka-mask naman ako all throughout (the meeting). (Still), mas maganda mag-self-quarantine at mag-work from home (I did not have any physical contact with him and I was wearing a mask all throughout the meeting. Still, it’s better to undergo self-quarantine and work from home),” he said in a phone interview with reporters.

Currently, Año said he is not experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms.

Despite being on quarantine, Año assured that the operation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) would not be paralyzed.

“I have access to my people, I have access to the emergency operations centers ng [of] DILG,” Año said.

He said technology can also be used for the meetings of the officials through teleconference.

“But we will work now with higher intensity, (even if we are on) work from home,” he assured.

Año said that Yap should not have attended the meeting as he was considered a person under investigation (PUI).

Meanwhile, Año urged the public to avoid going out of their houses for unnecessary purposes.

He also said local government units (LGUs) in Visayas and Mindanao have the freedom to declare an enhanced community quarantine.

Poor families priority in aid distribution

Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that they will prioritize poor families affected by the public health emergency.

“The Department of the Interior and Local Government strongly condemns the attempt by certain sectors to misrepresent, misquote or otherwise place out of context the statements of Secretary Eduardo M. Año and myself about government’s assistance to the people during this time of national calamity,” Malaya said in a statement.

He also said they are not neglecting well-off families in this situation.

“The DILG never said that ‘residents of private subdivisions are in no need of government help. We also never said ‘Those who live in subdivisions do not deserve government help’ or words to that effect,” he added.

This came after the DILG drew flak for purportedly saying that those living in the subdivisions and gated communities or the government workers who were paid despite not going to work should no longer expect any help from their respective localities.

This came as reports that relief distribution of the LGU has not reached the families in the subdivisions circulated.

Malaya explained that the government has limited capacity and resources and that its priority is the poor and indigent families who are mostly daily wage earners, no work no pay, and are in dire need of government assistance.

Malaya said the families in the formal economy will receive assistance aside from food packs such as credit facilities and reduced lending rates; reprieve in the payment of national and local taxes, fees and other charges required by law to ease the burden of families and individuals; 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans (including salary, personal, housing and motor vehicle loans) including credit card payments without incurring penalties, fees and charges; and a 30-day grace period in the payment of residential rent, without incurring interests, penalties, and fees.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment’s Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will provide cash subsidy to workers in the formal economy who are affected by the crisis, while the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program will provide temporary employment for displaced workers.

The government has also appealed to private-sector employers to assist their employees affected by the crisis and many of which have responded positively by facilitating an early release of their 13th-month pay.

Malaya earlier said the government will make available a total of PHP275-billion to augment the funding of the local government units to provide assistance to their constituents. (PNA)