As relief measure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Filipinos should receive P1,000 to P2,000 in emergency cash assistance, except those belonging in the top 10 percent of the population.
In making this pitch, which he called the Universal Basic Income (UBI) approach, House Ways and Means Committee chairperson Joey Salceda said not only poor Filipinos will be covered, but those in the middle income.
Salceda said he wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte two weeks ago asking him to cover 90% of the country's population in the government's emergency cash subsidy program for COVID-19.
“Essentially, you distribute P1,000 to P2,000 per head. Bale ang eligibility lang po, basta Pilipino ka at hindi ka mayaman, makakatanggap ka ng tulong," he said.
According to Salceda, a "basic income" approach in giving out cash subsidy is the most simple and straightforward and will do away with duplication and confusion with regards to the eligibility of the intended beneficiaries.
He added that such an approach would be advantageous "for ease of administration, ease of accountability, and to avoid arbitrariness in selecting eligible beneficiaries and sectors."
“Basic income would be easier to target (i.e., if you are wealthier than 80 percent of Filipinos, you will not receive it. Otherwise, you are entitled). It would entail less administrative costs as it would not require the kind of data mining required of identifying beneficiaries from existing but disjointed lists," Salceda said in his letter to the President.
“A basic income approach would also be easy to distribute (in some of the poorest barangays in the country, all citizens would qualify). An open application system would be much simpler. As an entitlement earned by simple virtue of citizenship and income, it would be depoliticized. It also does away with overlaps where households qualify under two or more bases for entitlement," he added.
Another advantage of the basic income approach, Salceda said, is that it is "human-centered."
"Kapag maraming maghahati-hati sa isang household, maliit ang 5,000. Kaya maganda ang basic income per person approach. Because food intake is per person," he said.
According to Salceda, the basic income approach will cost approximately P200 billion, which he said "may be cheaper."
"To cover 90% of the population would require P198.2 billion. To cover 80% would require P176.2 billion," he said.
Salceda said the government may consider the basic income approach in the next iterations of the emergency cash subsidy.
“The implementing agencies are learning about the difficulties of a multi-modal system on the ground. Yung basic income po, madali kasi lahat pasok puwera patay, puwera mayaman," he added. —LDF, GMA News