Lockdown in Philippines extended to April 30

President Rodrigo Duterte said the government was desperately looking for more funds for a massive cash and food aid intended to prevent the poor from starving to death.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the nation about the new coronavirus situation during a late night live broadcast from Malacanang, Manila on Monday April 6, 2020 - Ace Morandante, Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP | Astro Awani
The Philippine president has extended by half a month to April 30 a lockdown that requires millions of people in the country’s main northern region to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday in a late-night TV speech that the government was desperately looking for more funds for a massive cash and food aid intended to prevent the poor from starving to death. There have been appeals for middle-class families to be given emergency aid too, he said.

“If there’s nothing to eat, a human being can be violent especially if he sees his children without food and he’s driven to tears,” Duterte said, adding he has ordered the finance secretary to “steal, borrow, I don’t care,” just to produce more emergency funds.

The government has targeted 18 million low-income families for economic rescue under the lockdown with a 275-billion-peso ($5 billion) budget in the next two months. Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told foreign correspondents Monday 16.3 billion pesos ($320 million) have been distributed so far.

Duterte demanded that the aid be given more rapidly amid complaints of delays and confusion over who should get it.

The Philippines has reported 3,660 cases of COVID-19 disease, including 163 deaths.