The chairperson of the House Committee on Social Services on Wednesday (Sept. 16) rallied behind the call of her colleagues to include the funding allocation for the cash subsidies for low-income households in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.
La Union 2nd district Rep. Sandra Eriguel agreed with Negros Oriental 2nd District Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria and Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers that a Social Amelioration Provision (SAP) funding provision should be included in the next year’s national appropriations.
"Although the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has allotted for Promotive Social Welfare Program, including 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) in its proposed budget for 2021, nonetheless, I support the call of several Members of Congress to include in DSWD’s 2021 budget an allocation for cash subsidy similar to the SAP under the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” or R.A. 11469 or popularly known as “Bayanihan 1,” she told the Manila Bulletin.
She said despite the inclusion of similar subsidy program in the newly-enacted Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act”, known as Bayanihan 2, it would be sensible if a SAP funding provision is reflected in the 2021 national budget, considering the socio-economic uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
"It would be judicious to earmark an appropriation for emergency subsidy in DSWD’s 2021 Budget in view of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming year,” Eriguel, a medical doctor by profession, said.
The House leader noted that RA No. 11494 authorizes the President to implement various recovery interventions, including the provision of similar emergency subsidy worth P5,000 to P8,000 to affected low income households in areas under “granular lockdowns” or restrictions limited to specific area like a street or compound, and to households with recently-returned OFWs.
Bayanihan 2 also provides for P6 Billion for DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), she noted.
Sagarbarria, chairman of the House Special Committee on West Philippine Sea, had proposed that "SAP should continue and be included in the proposed national budget, but it must be in-kind, like giving rice to poor families."
For his part, Barbers, chairperson of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, agreed that SAP should be included in the national spending plan, recognizing that the pandemic crisis would produce more poor families.
“If there’s no vaccine in sight until next year, we should continue to roll out financial assistance to low income families next year,” he said in a text message.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon vowed over the weekend to push for the inclusion of SAP in the proposed national budget for next year.
Under the already-lapsed Republic Act NO. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, around 18 million low-income families are entitled to receive a P5,000 to P8,000 emergency cash subsidy for two months depending on the minimum wage rate in their regions.
In a congressional budget briefing, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado told the senators that the national government is more focused on improving the economic landscape and creating jobs for economically-dislocated families.