The Department of Social Welfare and Development is now coordinating with the Department of Finance to fund the additional P300 cash aid for indigent families after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to raise their monthly “ayuda” from P200 to P500.
“At present, we are coordinating with the DOF regarding this and while we are waiting for the official communication, the agency is also preparing the internal guidelines for this,” said DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to increase the monthly subsidy for poor Filipino families to P500 as the P200 ayuda was “too small” and “cannot sustain a family.”
In a related development, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P7 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the implementation of the Service Contracting Program (SCP).
The program aims to provide cash subsidies to affected public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, while also ensuring the efficiency and safety of public transport services amid the current health and economic crisis, the DBM said in a statement Tuesday.
Under the SCP, operators of PUVs will be contracted via an agreement based on a plan prepared by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
PUV drivers will then be receiving regular performance-based subsidies based on the number of trips made per week, regardless of the number of passengers.
This will be implemented through two types of contracts—net cost contracting and gross cost contracting—to ensure fair compensation of services to be provided by PUV drivers.
According to Dominguez, the P200-a-month subsidy would go to the bottom 50 percent of all households and will be on top of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) conditional cash grant that can reach up to P3,450 per month.
The subsidy will run for a year, for a total budget of P33 billion.
“It will be an uphill battle for the next administration if we increase it to P500. But let the next president handle that, never mind where he has to steal the money if necessary. But let us give this P500 now, and I hope this would go a long way really to help,” Duterte said.
Acting Palace spokesperson Martin Andanar said the government will source funding for the additional P300 monthly cash aid.
“President Rodrigo Duterte ordered us to find ways to secure the funds. Whatever it takes, we must have a P500 for every beneficiary,” Andanar said.
For his part, Partido Reporma standard bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said the P500 monthly ayuda is still not enough.
While it was much better than the P200 ayuda earlier recommended by economic managers, P500 monthly – or about P16.66 a day – was still too little to mitigate the impact of spiraling oil prices, the presidential candidate said.
Meanwhile, Andanar said the government will continue to work harder to address poverty in the country after a recent Social Weather Stations survey showed a drop in the number of Filipino families that consider themselves poor.
“We know that it is still high, so our priority is to revitalize our economy so that more Filipinos can have jobs and not go hungry,” he said.
The SWS survey, conducted in December, showed that around 43 percent of Filipino families rated themselves as poor.
This translates to an estimated 10.7 million families, slightly lower than the 11.4 million (45 percent) recorded in September last year.
The survey also found 39 percent of families considered themselves “borderline poor,” while 19 percent felt they are not poor.