Netizens on Wednesday denounced the statement of Senator Cynthia Villar, saying the middle-class workers should not be given financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic—but she quickly clarified her statement and apologized.
Villar said: "My statements during the hearing yesterday was not in any manner meant to be an affront to the hardworking middle class of the country. I might have framed my questions and statements in such a manner that made it seem I was insensitive to the plight of the middle-income sector. I am not.
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“I am concerned and I look out for the welfare of the middle-income workers. If I have offended anyone with my statements, I humbly apologize."
During the Senate's Committee of the Whole hearing on Tuesday, the senator questioned the executive branch's decision to give financial aid to 18 million families, saying the government should not provide financial assistance to the middle class because people classified as such were still salaried workers even during the pandemic.
But Villar clarified on Wednesday the middle class were the backbone of the Philippine economy and "I recognize the workers' contributions to the country and their families."
Villar said her intention was to clarify reports about the middle-class workers who remained employed but had been included as among the beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program of the government.
She said Congress had intended the SAP funds to benefit the poor and the unemployed.
"Lawmakers made sure that we were clear about the targeted beneficiaries of the cash assistance. The workers who continue to receive their salaries during the quarantine were excluded as eligible beneficiaries because they did not lose their income even amid the strict quarantine setup," said Villar, the richest senator in the 18th Congress.
Last year, Villar, wife of former Senate President Manuel Villar, also drew flak for telling people not to eat galunggong if they could not afford to buy what was known in the Philippines as the "poor man's fish."
She said was not anti-poor, but was just suggesting that Filipinos should try other viands to avoid increasing the demand for galunggong, which was priced at about P300 per kilo last year.
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