Lawmakers urged to integrate COVID aid programs in 2022 budget

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano urged his fellow lawmakers to craft a more integrated system for providing aid to workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the Senate looks set to wind down its 2022 National Budget deliberations this week.

In a November 25, 2021 media interview, Cayetano pointed out that while social amelioration programs in the proposed budget next year stand at around P554 billion, these funds are still under different implementing agencies which may lead to problems in disbursement.

Ang good news ay merong P554 billion, kasama na dito ang 4Ps, na kumbaga ay tulong sa ating mga kababayan. Ang bad news ay nakahati-hati ito sa iba’t ibang mga departamento kaya hindi automatic na lahat ay mabibigyan,” he said.

(The good news is we have P554 billion, including the 4Ps [Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program], that will be set aside for aid to our countrymen. The bad news is that money will be divided among different departments and so not everyone will automatically be given cash aid.)

Samantalang kung ihihiwalay mo na yung P200 billion, at bibigyan mo na ng P10,000 ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino, then magagamit na ito ng diretsuhan, walang administrative costs kasi mga local government units din naman ang ginagamit sa pagdi-distribute,” he added.

(But if you set aside P200 billion and give every Filipino family P10,000 in cash, then the money will be used more directly, cutting administrative costs because local government units will do the distribution.)

Cayetano said while state aid programs for workers and businesses such as the labor department’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) unemployment assistance and the social welfare department’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program are greatly beneficial, having separate aid programs run by different government agencies may lead to less impactful results relative to the magnitude of the help needed nationwide.

Sabi nga, kung ano ang itatanim mo, ‘yan ang aanihin mo. That’s a Biblical principle, hindi mo pwedeng baguhin ‘yan e. So ang point, kung ang itatanim natin ay P554 billion, pero nakahati-hati sa ibang departamento at different projects, different requirements, ang aanihin natin ay pahirapan makuha ito,” Cayetano said.

(As they say, you reap what you sow. That’s a Biblical principle, you can’t change that. So the point is if we plant, so to speak, something like P554 billion, but we split the money and implementation by department, with different projects and different requirements, we’ll reap incredible difficulties in getting the aid out to those who need it.)

The former House Speaker reiterated his commitment to lobby for the inclusion of the 10K Ayuda Bill as a component of next year’s budget. The proposed law seeks to be the basis for a broad-based stimulus program that will grant P10,000 in direct aid to every Filipino family.

Habang hindi pa natatapos sa bicam, we continue to study this, we continue to push, we continue to lobby na and to work na ma-approve yung 10K Ayuda sa form na ito,” Cayetano said, referring to the joint budget ratification process of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Basically, there will be help, whether it’s P10,000 or more or a little bit less, pero y’un nga, we want to make sure sana na lahat makakuha,” he added.

(While we have yet to wrap things up in the bicam, we continue to study this, we continue to push, we continue to lobby and work to approve the 10K Ayuda program in this form. Basically, there will be help, whether it’s P10,000 or more, or a little bit less. Regardless, we want to make sure that everyone gets aid.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on November 24 that his chamber is ready to pass the 2022 budget as early as December 1, and have the measure approved by the bicameral panel by December 10.

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