Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday urged the Congressional Bicameral Conference on the 2022 budget to incorporate a broad direct stimulus program for Filipino families.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on December 2, 2021, Cayetano asked his colleagues to amend the 2022 National Budget to include P200 billion for the distribution of P10,000 each for all pandemic-stricken households.
“The action steps for the Bicam are simple: We should speak up. Kailangan po kalampagin natin ang gobyerno (We need to shake up the government.),” he said.
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading its version of the 2022 budget in September. On the other hand, the Senate approved its version of the budget on Wednesday, December 1.
Since February, Cayetano and his allies have been pushing for the enactment of the 10K Ayuda Bill, which seeks to distribute P10,000 each to the poorest of the poor.
While the bill was integrated into the Bayanihan 3 bill, its proposed amount for cash aid was not adopted.
Cayetano said while there is an allotment of P554 billion for various forms of direct assistance such as those under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and PhilHealth, these are dispersed among different government agencies and are thus difficult to access for many people due to red tape.
He called on the national government to simplify the application and payout process for its financial assistance programs and address redundancies in the list of beneficiaries.
The former Speaker said pertinent agencies should learn from the unified system of aid distribution introduced during the implementation of the Bayanihan 1 Law.
“Kung walang pandemic, OK itong system nila. But ngayon kasi, buong Pilipinas [affected]. Lahat naman nangangailangan. So, why not simply adopt the Bayanihan 1 style?” he said.
(If we weren’t facing a pandemic right now, this system would work. But right now the whole Philippines is affected. Everyone is in need. So, why not simply adopt the Bayanihan 1 style?)
Cayetano said the next budget and the implementation of its provisions on cash aid will be crucial since the country will be undergoing a transition of leadership and undertake important efforts towards economic recovery.
“The reality is next year, whether it’s the first half or the second half, life can be the same. It can be worse. It can be better. But a great budget could give us a fighting chance for it to be better,” he said.