A "desperate" President Rodrigo Duterte said he is inclined to approve a 15-day extension to the Luzon-wide lockdown in a bid to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as he ordered the Department of Finance to look for more funds in case the outbreak drags on.
"We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30," the President said in his address to the nation late Monday evening.
Duterte admitted that the P275 billion emergency funds authorized by Congress is only enough for two months.
"They said I am losing weight. Sometimes I wake up at 3 a.m. and instead of going back to bed, I sit on my lounge chair and think and pray until daybreak. I have to think of everything," the President said.
"This is why I am telling you — do not try this government (by sowing chaos) because even this government is now desperate. Even I am desperate."
"The prediction is really dire as long as there is no vaccine or medicine. I don't know until when will I tell you to stay at home. I don't know when will I be able to give all of you food. I don't know where to get the money. I don't know what I can sell, and who will buy if ever we can sell something. This should be the job of men of science. Me? I just happen to be here, to my chagrin, probably, why this happened on my watch. This is worse than war because we cannot see the enemy," Duterte added.
He asked the Finance department to take a hard look at this year's national capital outlay to see which projects or programs can be shelved.
"Magnakaw ka, manghiram ka — wala akong pakialam, because if we run out of funds, I told you from the start this COVID will really hit us hard," he said.
"We are now exploring options to adjust our budget. We can drop or slash funds for certain projects and use these instead for our COVID-19 measures. If people have nothing to eat, they can become violent especially if they see their children hungry," he added.
He said much as he would like to include the middle class in the government's social amelioration program, there is simply not enough money on hand.
"I agree that we also have to help the middle class. But how can they be included in the P270 billion? We did not include them in our estimate," the President said.
"Our resources are not infinite. They are finite. There's not enough money to go around," he added.
The President turned to prayer as a means to hurdle the pandemic as he called on all Filipinos to "unite in prayer to god to fight a common enemy" on Holy Wednesday.
"God is the only one who can really solve the problem for us," Duterte said.