Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday urged the government to act now and implement programs that can provide immediate relief to Filipinos, saying the upcoming elections should not be a reason to stop the nation’s recovery efforts.
In a media interview on March 14, 2022, Cayetano highlighted the need for quick and continuous action from the national government as the country faces “extraordinary” circumstances.
“We don’t have to wait for the next administration,” he said.
Cayetano said one of the ways to generate funds is to impose a five percent saving on all government agencies, which would generate P250 billion in funding that could be used to give each Filipino family P10,000.
Cayetano has been pushing for the passing of the 10K Ayuda Bill which he and his allies filed on February 1, 2021.
He said even with every family receiving the financial assistance, the government would still have P50 billion left over.
Cayetano said Congress could hold a special session, similar to what it did to pass Bayanihan 1 under his term as House Speaker, in order to expedite measures like this.
“There’s so much we can do and there are so many tools,” he said.
Cayetano highlighted the national budget and how it can be used now to address pressing concerns in “buhay at kabuhayan” (life and livelihood).
“For example, P500 billion y’ung budget ng DPWH. Pag-isahin natin yan. ‘Pag hindi ‘yan health-related, tourism-related, education-related, hindi ‘yan major project, itabi muna. Ngayon, kung pwede intensive sa labor para mas maraming may trabaho, gawin nating labor intensive,” he said.
(For example, the budget of the DPWH is P500 billion. Let’s go through it. If it’s not health-related, tourism-related, education-related, if it’s not a major project, then let’s set it aside. Now, if we can make it labor intensive so that we can create more jobs, then let’s make it labor intensive.)
Cayetano further said the government can offer no-interest, long-term payback loan schemes to affected industries such as tourism. However, access to these services needs to be streamlined so that more Filipinos can avail themselves of them.
“Sino ba naman aayaw umutang kung two years, no interest, may grace period ka pa? Medyo imposible isipin sa hirap ngayon ng mga negosyo, kulang ang gustong umutang. Mahirap ang proseso ngayon, kaya ayaw umutang,” Cayetano said.
(Who wouldn’t want to avail themselves of a loan that’s two years, no interest, and with a grace period? It’s a bit impossible to imagine, with how difficult it has been for all these businesses, that no one would want to avail of this program. But the process is so hard, they don’t want to loan.)
Cayetano said the public needs to be better informed of programs that are already existing.
“A lot of people don’t know that there is P20 billion with the Department of Health for medical assistance, aside from the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), aside from PhilHealth. So may pera. Pero bakit mahirap y’ung proseso (The money is there. But why is the process so difficult)?” he said.
Cayetano, who is gunning for a comeback to the Senate, pledged to push for the passing of a Relief, Reform, Recovery Bill in the Senate to help move forward the initiatives in place now.