Senator says government has yet to deal with the country's debt, which tripled in the last 13 years, especially during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Chiz Escudero says he supports increasing 4Ps cash aid but...
At a glance
Despite the lack of resources, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Sunday, June 4, said he agrees with the proposal to increase the cash grant under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the government’s poverty reduction program.
Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero (Senate PRIB Photo)
The problem would be the source of funding, Escudero said, considering that the government’s debt has now reached P13.9-trillion during the last year.
“There is no congressman or senator you can talk to who is not in favor of increasing that (cash aid)…The only question is, can the government afford it?” Escudero pointed out in an interview over Radio DZBB.
“The Philippines owed P13.9-trillion this past year, P1.1-trillion was owed by the Marcos administration; the Duterte administration owes more than P6-trillion. (Former) President (Benigno) Aquino (III) owed more than P1- trillion and his inherited debt is just over P4-trillion,” Escudero pointed out.
“So if we think about it, in 2010, the country's debt was just over P4-trillion. Thirteen (13) years later, the country’s debt has tripled,” he lamented.
Escudero noted the current administration is still waddling through an economic crisis brought about by the negative impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
On top of that is the government’s commitment to provide the pension of its military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) and other significant social services for the Filipinos.
The lack of fund resources, he pointed out, has even led the Marcos administration to come up with the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill.
“So the question remains whether the government can do so while they are having problems with the pension to be paid to uniformed personnel, while they are having problems with the lack of funds for the projects and services that need to be provided to the citizens,” he lamented.
“So our debt is so big and growing even though this administration is only a year old. Are we going to increase our expenses again and if we do, do we have more resources?” Escudero pointed out.
Escudero’s remarks is in resonse ot Agri Rep. Wilbert Lee’s statements after he urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to expedite the process of increasing the cash grand under the 4Ps instead of making the beneficiaries wait for another two years for the approval of some bills that seek to increase the cash aid.
Lee argued that it may take until 2025 before 4Ps beneficiaries get the increased aid if they have to wait for measures seeking to increase the 4Ps cash grant to be enacted into law.
But DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said congressional action is needed before any increase in the 4Ps cash grant is effected.
Gatchalian also said the DSWD has to consider the allocation under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the 4Ps Law which would “have to be amended.”