A “targeted” form of “ayuda” or cash aid.
That’s what the national government will provide to Filipinos under the proposed P5.268-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or national budget for 2023, says Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo.
Quimbo, a senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, defended the GAB before the House plenary Tuesday, Sept. 20 in a debate on the matter of general principles and provisions of the budget measure.
During her interpellation on Quimbo, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas–a member of the minority bloc–said she disagreed with an earlier pronouncement made by Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno to the appropriations panel that giving ayuda or cash aid at this point in the Covid-19 pandemic was a “waste of funds”.
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Brosas opined that the government should instead find ways to fund more direct cash aid to Filipinos.
To this, Quimbo said that the Philippines is already slowly opening up after two years worth of lockdowns in connection with the persisting Covid-19 pandemic.
“Sa ngayon, iba na po. Nagbukas na ang ating ekonomiya. Bumalik na nga ang ating kabataan sa face to face classes. So on the road to recovery na tayo (Things are different now. Our economy has opened up. Our youth have returned to face-to-face classes. So we’re on the road to recovery),” the sponsor said.
“Kaya’t nag-iba ng direksyon ang pagbibigay natin ng ayuda (The direction of providing ayuda has changed). At this point in time, tuloy pa rin ang ayuda (ayuda will continue), however, we are now going to give, well, targeted ayuda. Ibig sabihin, hahanapin natin ang mga sektor na talagang nangangailangan ng ayuda (This means that we will search for the sectors that would really need ayuda),” explained Quimbo.
In her sponsorship speech just minutes earlier, the economist-lawmaker said, “”We need to invest in our farmers. We need to enhance human capital. We need to grow our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), which are the backbone of our economy. We need to create effective networks of physical and digital infrastructure to ensure mobility and smooth flow of goods and services.”
Quimbo said that 75 percent of Philippine households were granted cash aid through the social amelioration program or SAP during the early months of the pandemic in 2020.
“Hindi na tayo nag target. Bakit? Dahil talaga nga namang sinalanta ng pandemiya ang lahat. Hindi pinili ng pandemiya kung sino ang kanyang maaapektuhan. So yun ang dahilan kung bakit naging malawakan ang ayuda noong kasagsagan ng pandemiya (We didn’t target anybody. Why? Because everyone was truly affected by the pandemic. The pandemic didn’t choose beforehand who it will affect. So that’s the reason why the grant of cash aid was widespread at the height of the pandemic),” she noted.