MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Tuesday said it was planning to start the pilot run of the government's food stamp program in July, as they continue to thresh out specific details on this in the coming weeks.
Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said they already identified 1 million target families for the "Walang Gutom 2027," which would come from the agency's "Listahanan 3."
The list had showed that the poorest Filipino families were mostly in rural areas.
Target beneficiaries will receive food credits worth P3,000 "to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD-accredited local retailers."
"These are families that do not make beyond P8,000 according to the [Philippine Statistics Authority]... Similar to other food stamp programs, there will be a work component to it," Gatchalian said in a Palace briefing.
Gatchalian said the program is still in the design stage, and they target to roll out the pilot implementation by July to December in 5 pilot sites coming from "different geopolitical characteristics."
This includes the Bangsamoro, geographically isolated regions, those in urban poor settings, calamity-driven stricken and rural poor areas.
The official added that they do not want to share the specific areas yet because they "just want to vet them properly."
Asian Development Bank would provide close to US$3 million for the 6 month-pilot implementation, he said, noting that the roll out will not cover the entire 1 million families.
"[A total of] 300,000 hopefully next year sa first run, another 300,000 right after, and then hopefully reach the magic number of 1 million on the succeeding year," he said.
"And then we have to also work with the economic team in trying to package the economic side of it or the financing side of it, so hopefully next year we get to do the actual run, first quarter of next year," he added.
HOW THIS WOULD WORK
The program will be conditional, said Gatchalian, as unemployed beneficiaries would need to find work, too.
This was developed from the fact that Filipinos will need to attain the "recommended food and energy consumption needed... to perform their daily task."
"Ang condition nga doon is when you signed up, you have to go to the nearest public employment office, get a certification that you are now partaking, being counted as part of the workforce no matter what job it is," the DSWD chief said.
"Ang argumento kasi ngayon, kapag gutom ang indibidwal, hindi siya makapag-participate, hindi siya makapagtrabaho. Kulang ang caloric intake," he added.
Video from RTVM
"Kung hindi siya makapagtrabaho, hindi siya produktibong mamamayan ng ating bansa. So ang gagawin natin dito, we will supplement the family's intake," he said.
When asked for assurance how these food stamps would not be used for other reasons, Gatchalian said they would use "food as currency," as beneficiaries could only exchange these for food covering their baskets.
Half of the basket will be allotted for carbohydrate foods, 30 percent for protein, and 20 percent for fats.
"So mamimili ka lang within the food groups. Let's say you go to accredited partner retailer. You get to choose lang from a selected list of food items in that food group. So kung carbs, it's either rice or whatever you may have. Hindi ito tipong cash na ibibigay natin," he said.
Gatchalian said they would tap the "Kadiwa ng Pangulo" outlets, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and big grocers.
"We have spoken to them, every single brand there is, and there is an appetite to participate in this program kasi we want it to become a movement. Ending hunger is not just the government's job... it is everybody's job."
Beneficiaries will "graduate" from the program based on their assessment after four years, if they were moving out from the food poor category to the poor category.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. announced the program on Monday during his event at the Asian Development Bank.