MANILA - The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on Thursday said it approved recommendations to institutionalize social protection programs in government.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the social protection floor, which aims to alleviate poverty and vulnerability, will "provide protection to individuals and families in times of need."
Asked about how it was different from the existing government programs, Balisacan said institutionalizing it means preventing the government from restarting the programs all over again.
It will also sustain the programs government has for poverty reduction.
"This framework is the result of a lengthy stakeholder and multipartite consultations that began in 2014, so ngayon lang naaprubahan itong matagal nang pinag-uusapan na social protection," Balisacan told Palace reporters.
"The guarantees should ensure that, at a minimum, everyone in need has access to essential healthcare and basic social services. These guarantees work together to provide effective access to goods and services that are defined as necessary at the national level," he added.
Among the approved recommendations include the complete implementation of the Universal Health Care program, enhancing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P), addressing teenage pregnancies, and full implementation of feeding programs.
At present, Balisacan said government is feeding 570,000 children for 120 days.
Under the social protection floor, government plans to lengthen this to 219 days for the medium-term and 365 days by the end of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr's administration.
The NEDA chief said institutionalizing these programs would translate in the consistent allocation of budget from Congress.
"Since the intention is to institutionalize, we want to make sure that in the progressive budgeting of the government, the budgets that will be prepared by Congress, those programs are already reflected," he said in a chance interview with reporters.
While protection floors could not be fully met in a couple of years, he said what they want to achieve is "progressive realization."
"As we are able to build our capacity to finance these floors, we are able to build na rin, it's automatic, we do not have to start, wait for another lobby to come in, it is already part of the regular programs of government," he added.
In January, the Department of Budget and Management said it has allotted over P151 billion to fund social protection programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development under the General Appropriations Act of 2023.