MANILA—Sen. Cynthia Villar on Tuesday questioned the executive branch’s decision to extend cash aid to 18 million families, saying the government should not provide financial assistance to the middle class because people classified as such are still salaried workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government’s target of 18 million families who will receive cash aid under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act covers 82 percent of the population, not just poor and low-income families, Villar said during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing.
Under the 2015 census, poor and low-income families only accounted for about 60 percent of the population, she said.
“Hindi ko ma-accept 'yung figure na 'yun kasi masyado mataas. Nade-deprive 'yung mahihirap,” Villar said.
“Bakit bibigyan [ng aid] 'yung middle [class] e may trabaho sila? Kahit lockdown, sumusuweldo sila sa gobyerno kung employed by the government. Kung employed naman ng mga private, nagsusuweldo din sila kaya nga nahihirapan yung mga companies because they have to pay the salaries even if there is no business.
“Kasi kami libu-libo ang empleyado namin. Kahit hindi sila napasok, sinusuwelduhan namin sila,” she added, referring to her family’s businesses in the retail, housing, banking and utility sectors.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the number of indigent families in the country had to be adjusted to 18 million to reflect the Philippines’ population growth between 2015 and 2020.
"Sen. Villar is correct that we had 22 million families in the last census in 2015. Around 15 million are deemed low income [families] or from the informal sector,” Chua said.
“To be accurate, we had to do a projection. Otherwise, kulang kasi we have population growth.”
Villar told the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to submit an explanation.
In April, several middle-class Filipinos aired their ire on social media, saying that the government should also extend aid to taxpayers instead of giving dole-outs exclusively to the poor.