Philippines' Duterte donates one-month salary to fund anti-virus efforts

Roman Catholic faithfuls holding plant leaves observe social distancing as they wait for a priest for blessing during the Palm Sunday event in Manila on Sunday (April 5) as part of the Easter observance. Church authorities have asked the catholic faithfuls not to go to churches for the Palm Sunday blessing, but instead to stay in front of their houses as priests will go around their communities for the blessing, to observe social distancing as part of the government efforts to combat Covid-19. - AFP

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is donating a month of his salary to the national fund to combat the coronavirus disease and provide assistance to those millions of poor Filipinos affected by the month-long community quarantine imposed on March 12.

An estimated 18 million low-income households are affected by the lockdown which has brought the economy at a standstill since March 12. The government has bankrolled 200 billion pesos (US$3.9bil) emergency aid to Filipinos who have lost their sources of income due to the pandemic.

The Philippines now has 3,246 Covid-19 cases, including 152 deaths and 64 recoveries.

The number of cases continues to rise as government conduct more tests in an effort to isolate the infected.

Aside from Duterte, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said "many of the members of Duterte's cabinet have also pledged to cut 75 percent of their monthly salaries from the month of April to December of this year."

"Others have volunteered a salary deduction for the whole duration of the state of public health emergency in solidarity with our countrymen and to help in the government efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus," Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo added that other officials with the rank of secretaries are similarly giving portions of their respective salaries to boost the collective fight against the dreadful disease.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Saturday that most of the members of Duterte's Cabinet have promised to donate three-fourths of their salaries to augment the government's funds in responding and containing the spread of the viral disease.

Nograles, the spokesman for the inter-agency was force dealing with Covid-19, said he is among those donating a part of his salary to the fund intended to provide assistance to those affected by the month-long enhanced economic quarantine that is expected to end on April 12. - Xinhua/Asian News Network
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