Senate open to studying addt'l budget for cash dole outs

The Senate said Thursday they are open to studying the feasibility of including an additional budget for cash dole outs in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We will be looking at these programs as we hear the departments of DSWD, NAPC (National Anti-Poverty Commission), DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment), and other agencies that can help alleviate poverty in the country,” said Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) estimated that the number of poor Filipino households may increase to 20 million next year.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed with the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, saying senators will “study and review” the proposal first.

Lawmakers have earlier noted that the proposed budget for next year does not include any COVID-19 emergency cash assistance for the poor.

But during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives, DSWD officials said the agency’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction targets to cover 16 million households for 2021 but they are expecting an increase to 20 million due to the lack of jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The targeting system aims to identify the country’s poorest households that will receive cash dole outs through the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.