MANILA — The national budget for next year should include funds for cash aid that will help the poorest Filipinos weather the coronavirus pandemic, a senator said Monday.
Funds for the aid were not included in the Bayanihan 2 stimulus package that President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed and the proposed 2021 national budget, said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
This is despite the closure of some 400,000 small businesses due to the pandemic and the job loss of millions of Filipinos, he said.
Funds for the cash aid program could be drawn from the P469-billion worth of lump sums and redundant items in the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, he said.
While infrastructure can generate jobs, cash aid is a more “immediate need” for many Filipinos, said the senator. Drilon said he would also look into the proposed P16-billion budget for counter-insurgency efforts.
Some Filipinos suffering due to the pandemic are not among the beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer selected some 5 years ago, Drilon added.
“Akin pong hihingin na ilagay natin sa 2021 budget ang ayuda para po sa ating mga nawalan na trabaho at naghihirap nating kababayan dahil sa COVID-19,” Drilon told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
(I will ask that the 2021 budget include aid for those who lost their jobs and are struggling because of COVID-19.)
“Hindi natitigil ang problema sa gutom at kawalan ng trabaho kaya kailangan po natin ang patuloy na social amelioration program,” he said.
(The problem with hunger and unemployment has not been solved so we need a continuous social amelioration program.)
The Senate later Monday will start tackling the proposed 2020 national budget.