The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should be more lenient in giving out cash assistance to low-income families amid the COVID-19 pandemic to allow them to purchase basic commodities and help jumpstart the economy.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon made the remark Sunday after it was revealed in an earlier Senate budget hearing that only 14 million Filipino households out of the 18 million target were given assistance under the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), resulting in savings amounting to P10 million.
During the said hearing, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said there were less than 18 million families who received cash assistance due to double compensation.
But Drilon said it does not matter if there was double compensation or none so long as the government could provide assistance to as many families as possible.
"Dapat maging lenient na. Unang-una may listahan 'yung DSWD diyan dahilan sa 4Ps program, 'yung listahan ng mahihirap. 'Yan talaga ay outdated na dahil dumami ang mahihirap dahilan sa COVID-19," he said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.
"E ano kung magkadoble? Malaking pera ba yan? Kaliit 'yan para sa mga mahihirap," he added. "Mali 'yung polisiya na hindi mo idi-distribute 'yung P10 bilyon dahil sinasabi natin na nagkadoble."
Drilon noted that many Filipinos have become poor due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many losing their jobs or their livelihood. The government, therefore, should grant them financial assistance so that they could spend for their needs.
"Ang sabi nga ni Sec. [Carlos] Dominguez, itong panahon ngayon, kailangan gumastos tayo dahilan sa 'yung ekonomiya natin bumabagsak. Bakit bumabagsak? Walang pera ang taumbayan para mamili ng pagkain, maraming nawalan ng trabaho. Kaya kailangan gumastos tayo ngayon para ma-stimulate ang ekonomiya natin," he said.
With P10 billion savings, the DSWD said they are planning to use these funds for other programs of the department targeting informal vendors such as those in the markets and sari-sari stores.
But Drilon said what the public needs more is financial assistance.
"'Yung livelihood projects, may ibang sangay din ng pamahalaan na may livelihood project. Ngunit ang tungkulin ng DSWD ay ayuda, immediate relief para sa ating kababayan na mahirap at bagong mahirap," he said.
On Thursday, Malacañang also pressed the DSWD to use the remaining P10 billion under the COVID-19 emergency cash assistance program to aid more poor households and vulnerable sectors. —KG, GMA News