Villar says sorry after backlash on ‘middle-class’ comments

first_imgVILLAR MANILA – Sen. Cynthia Villar apologized over comments she made on the inclusion of middle-class sector in the government’s cash assistance program during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.Villar said in a statement on Wednesday that she was just clarifying reports about middle-income earners who are receiving emergency subsidies from the social amelioration program (SAP).“My statements during the hearing yesterday [Tuesday] were not in any manner meant to be an affront to the hardworking middle class of the country,” Villar said. “I am aware that the middle class is the backbone of the economy.”“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. I am concerned and I look out for the welfare of the middle income workers,” she added.“If I have offended anyone with my statements, I humbly apologize,” the senator further said.Villar, during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Tuesday, said that the middle class should not be included as beneficiaries of the SAP, which is intended for the poor and unemployedAccording to Villar, the 18 million target beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy program represent 82 percent of the estimated 22 million Filipino families in the Philippines, which she said is too huge.“‘Yung 18 million is 82 percent. Bakit bibigyan ‘yung middle eh may trabaho sila, kahit lockdown nagsusweldo sila sa gobyerno kung employed by the government. Kung employed naman ng mga private, nagsusweldo rin sila,” Villar said.“Kaya nga nahihirapan ang mga companies kasi they have to pay the salaries even if there is no business,” she added. “Hindi ko ma-accept ang figures na ‘yun. Masyadong mataas. Nade-deprive ang mahihirap dahil binibigyan pati ang middle class.”Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua explained to Villar that the 22 million families being cited by the senator were based on data from 2015 and it has to be updated to meet the actual needs in the present.“Of the 22 million families, around 15 million are deemed to be low-income or working in the informal sector. However, to be accurate we had to do a projection from 2015 to 2020. Otherwise, kulang kasi may population growth,” Chua said.“The 2020 estimates now [is] 24 million [families] of which 18 million are considered low-income, basically working in the informal sector, no work no pay. That is the basis for the 18 million,” he added.Around 23 million families received help through the SAP during the first tranche of distribution. Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the national government has allotted P200-billion-worth of aid for those most affected by the pandemic./PNlast_img