MANILA - Some 700 senior citizens of San Fernando, Pampanga received P2,400 cash assistance under the Unconditional Cash Transfer program of the government to cushion the adverse effects of the tax reform law.
In the launch of the distribution of cash assistance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development gave out envelopes containing cash to the beneficiaries who were under the Social Pension program of the government for indigent senior citizens.
The P2,400 assistance is for the whole year of 2018, covering P200 per month.
“Hindi naman po ito malaking halaga. Ang hinihingi po namin ay paumanhin at sana makatulong din ito sa ating pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan,” DSWD Acting Sec. Virginia Orogo said.
(This might not be a huge amount, and we're asking for their pardon and we hope this will help with their everyday needs.)
One of those who received the 2,400 pesos cash assistance was 85-year-old Viriginia Capati who lives with her grandchild.
She is thankful for the P200 subsidy per month but she said it is not enough to cover the rising cost of commodities.
“Kulang ang P200, sa pamamalengke ko nga ang P500 kinukulang," Capati said.
(The P200 is insufficient; P500 is not even enough for groceries.)
The cash assistance is one of the mandates of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which caused increases in prices of commodities affecting poor Filipinos.
House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson Rep. Dakila Cua and Department of Finance Asec. Tony Lambino, who both attended the launch of the program, admitted the subsidy might not be enough considering other factors such as inflation, the weakening of the peso against the dollar and rising oil prices.
The two told senior citizens that the tax reform law is meant to collect more taxes from the rich for the benefit of the poor.
“Nauunawaan natin ang problema ng ating mga kababayan. Marami pang factors kaya’t dun sa ating panawagan, tinitingnan kung paano palalawakin ang serbisyo pa ng pamahaalaan," Cua said.
(We understand the problem of our countrymen, there are many other factors, that's why we're looking at ways to widen our services.)
“For these things, hindi sapat. What we need to do ay ang rice tariffication, dahil pag ginawa ito, bababa ang presyo ng bigas ng 7 pesos,” Lambino said.
(For these things, it's not enough. What we need to do is impose rice tariffication, because if we do this, the price of rice will decrease by P7.)
Lambino, a former member of the singing group Smokey Mountain, also serenaded the senior citizens with two songs, Usahay and Saan Ka Man Naroroon.
Aside from 3 million indigent senior citizens nationwide who will be receiving the assistance because of the TRAIN law, 4.4 million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program and 2.6 million poor households under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction are also part of the UCT program.