Senator Sonny Angara on Monday, November 28 said the Senate will work for the continued grant of financial assistance or “ayuda” to support the sectors that really need it and are still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and who is leading the Upper Chamber in the bicameral conference committee meetings on the proposed 5.268-trillion national budget, said that what will be provided under the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for next year are targeted assistance to specific sectors.
“Our desire is to provide targeted aid for some sectors such as our healthcare workers, farmers, fishermen, operators and drivers of public utility vehicles, our senior citizens, those who have lost their jobs and also our poorest compatriots,” Angara said.
Funds for senior citizens’ pension, Pantawid Pamilya Program
Angara also said the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens—including the 100 percent increase that was recently granted under Republic Act No. 11916 which was co-authored by the senator—will be funded next year.
Under the law, indigent senior citizens who have no pension or any financial support from relatives will now receive P1,000.
He also said the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue.
The Senate, he said, provided additional funds for the DSWD’s Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances and Sustainable Livelihood Program.
Benefits, allowances for healthcare workers
According to the lawmaker, health workers will also continue to receive benefits and allowances similar to what they have been getting under the Bayanihan laws under the 2023 national budget.
Funding for the COVID-19 compensation package for healthcare workers will also continue next year, he said.
“Our health frontliners remain at high risk of contracting the new strains of COVID-19 and other diseases while providing care for our loved ones,” Angara pointed out.
Significant funding was also provided for the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) to ensure the full implementation of the Universal Health Care law.
The Senate, Angara said, also increased funding for the Medical Assistance to Indigent and Financially-Incapacitated Patients.
“Siniguro natin na lahat ng Pilipino, ano man ang kanilang estado sa buhay, ay mabibigyan ng karampatang serbisyong medikal tuwing sila ay may sakit. Hindi dapat maging dahilan ang kahirapan para hindi makapagpa konsulta sa doktor (We have ensured that all Filipinos, regardless of their status in life, will be provided with competent medical services whenever they are sick. Poverty should not be a reason for not being able to consult a doctor),” he said.
The lawmaker also said fuel subsidies will, likewise, continue next year for the public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers, including those who belong in the ride-hailing industry.
Angara said the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) fuel assistance program for farmers and fisherfolk wold still be funded next year.
“The fuel subsidies will help the members of the transport and agriculture sectors in coping with the rising cost of gasoline and diesel and help ensure that they will continue operating for the benefit of the public,” he said.