By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded the recent approval by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Targeted Cash Transfer Program for vulnerable households affected by the recent increases in fuel prices.
In a statement, Go also appealed to the implementing agencies, including the local government units, to spare the program from partisan politics given that the same will be implemented during the campaign period for the 2022 national and local elections.
“Taus-puso akong nagpapasalamat kay Pangulong Duterte sa pag-apruba ng panukalang programang ito. Bilang ama ng bansa, nakikita mo talaga ang kanyang malasakit para sa sambayanang Pilipino, lalo na ‘yung pinaka-nangangailangang kababayan natin,” Go said.
“Nasa kalagitnaan tayo ng pangangampanya para sa halalan. Huwag na nating haluan ng pulitika ang programang ito,” warned the senator.
The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict led to a series of oil price increases, on top of a humanitarian crisis involving refugees in Eastern Europe. The Philippines, which imports all of its oil supplies, is particularly vulnerable to fuel price hikes in the world market. An increase in oil prices also led to increased prices of goods and services, particularly some basic commodities.
Earlier, the government’s Economic Development Cluster proposed a P200 monthly cash grant for one year to the bottom 50% of Filipino households. Last March, President Duterte increased the same to P500 per month to be given for six months beginning April this year.
The cash grant seeks to benefit a total of 12.4 million households nationwide where 4.4 million of them are existing beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); 5.6 million belonging to the non-4Ps, low-income beneficiaries under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Unconditional Cash Transfer Program; and the remaining 2.4 million households, not included in the first two groups, being classified as essentially poor.
“Ibigay sa lahat ng mga nararapat bigyan. Huwag nang patagalin pa. Marami ang apektado ng krisis sa langis. Para sa mga mahihirap nating kapwa Pilipino, bawat piso ay mahalaga,” appealed Go.
At the height of the pandemic, Go had been at the forefront urging the Executive branch to roll out various assistance programs to help cushion the socio-economic impacts of the ongoing global health crisis.
These include the series of Social Amelioration Program and Supplemental Amelioration Program for the poorest of the poor, and the Small Wage Subsidy Program for displaced workers employed by micro, small and medium enterprises, among others.
To ensure the seamless implementation of the program, the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Budget and Management will jointly formulate and issue guidelines.
They shall also seek prior clearances from the Commission on Elections and other relevant bodies given the existing election spending ban. The budget department, in coordination with the Bureau of Treasury and other concerned agencies, will identify possible funding sources.
The social welfare department and the Land Bank of the Philippines shall lead in the distribution of the said grants in the most timely, efficient and secure manner.
“Kailangang ramdam ng mga kababayan natin ang tulong na ito. Maliit na halaga kung tutuusin pero hangad natin na sana ay makatulong din ito sa mga gastusin ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan. Bilang senador, andito ako palagi, handang tumulong po sa inyo upang mapagaan ang bigat at hirap na dinadala ng mga kababayan nating pinakaapektado ng iba’t ibang krisis na hinaharap natin,” Go assured.
“At para naman sa mga kababayan nating merong problema sa kalusugan at nag-aalangan pang magpa-ospital dahil sa posibleng gastusin, lapitan lang po ninyo ang mga 151 na mga ospital sa buong bansa na merong Malasakit Center. Huwag na nating hintayin na lumala pa ang inyong nararamdaman,” added Go who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health and is considered the Father of the Malasakit Centers Program.
The Malasakit Centers program started in 2018 when Go opened its first center at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City. The program has now since assisted more than three million Filipinos nationwide with such centers established and operating in every region—from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. (AI/MTVN)