‘Distribute P10-B of SAP funds as Christmas ‘ayuda’, Recto urges gov’t

Senator Ralph Recto on Monday proposed a "third round" of the government's social amelioration program (SAP) to include the release of the P10 billion funds not spent yet by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to indigent families as well as assistance to other sectors.

Senate Ralph Recto
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Recto made the proposal while he urged anew the DSWD to release the P10-billion unspent funds from its allocation for the cash subsidies to low-income households. He said the balance could be used through the authority given by the Bayanihan 2 law, and could qualify as a "Christmas ayuda (assistance)."

"If President Duterte would back a proposal for a third round of SAP this Christmas, he will have the backing of both houses of Congress,” the Senate President Pro Tempore said in a statement.

"Mr. President, run the numbers, name the amount, we will give our approval. Wala nang mahabang CBA or Christmas Bargaining Agreement negotiations kung tulong ang pag-uusapan," he assured Duterte.

Recto underscored the importance of the distribution of the P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid as he noted of the upcoming holidays and poor families are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the persisting community quarantines implemented by the government.

The DSWD earlier said that second tranche of SAP subsidies, it decided to reduce to 14 million the number of beneficiaries from the 18 million mandated under the expired Bayanihan 1 Act.

"Late is better than zero," he said.

"This will be the bleakest Christmas since the World War II years. Some monetary cheer from the government will go a long way,” Recto said.

"Importante dito ay may naibigay ang gobyerno sa isang panahon na dapat masaya pero nagbabadyang malungkot (What's important is that the government can give them something amid a season that should be merry but will apparently be sad)," he continued.

Recto said the "Christmas ayuda" could also be expanded to cover displaced public utility vehicle drivers, motorcycle taxi drivers, students who shifted to online learning modes, and state medical frontliners who have yet to receive their hazard pay,

He said teaching supplies allowance could also be increased to include the cost of reproducing student handouts and replenishing internet load of public school teachers.

He said the assistance could also be the privilege to work again.

"These would include allowing drivers of motor-taxis, under the most stringent health and safety protocols, to ply the streets again, and benefit the transportation-starved workforce needed to restart the economy," he appealed.