MANILA — Sen. Imee Marcos on Tuesday said there are ongoing discussions on the possibility of allocating almost P12 billion from the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to a social amelioration program (SAP) in 2021, citing the importance of cash subsidies for Filipinos affected by the recent typhoons and the pandemic.
Marcos, who was tasked to defend the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) budget in the Senate, said some 600,000 households have already graduated from the 4Ps.
The budget for those families could be earmarked for SAP, she said, which is absent in the proposed 2021 national budget.
“In fact though, 600,000 households have already graduated from Pantawid (4Ps). This amount, which should total about P12 billion, is what we have been discussing with the chairman to possibly become the SAP in 2021,” she said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, during the budget deliberations, lamented the non-inclusion of SAP in next year's proposed budget, although he acknowledged the devastating typhoons were just recent.
“What do we do about this? Is SAP unnecessary in 2021? Is SAP no longer a valid program? SAP was removed in Bayanihan 2 before these typhoons came. For sure and certainly, there is need for it today,” Drilon said.
SAP will be important next year, according to Marcos, because the country is still reeling from the COVID-19 crisis, with the coronavirus vaccine set to be available only sometime next year.
“I believe that the ayuda or SAP will be even more necessary in 2021. We are already seeing the beginning of the crisis. May savings pa ang tao, may kaunti pang natitirang pagkain at gamot. Pero lalala ang sitwasyon. And we don't think COVID is about to disappear even in the third quarter of 2021 when we are praying for the vaccine,” said Marcos.
(People may still have savings, some food and medicine. But things will get worse.)
According to her, the beneficiaries of next year's SAP will be those affected by the typhoons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the end, I believe the beneficiaries will be the same as the new 4Ps because they are victims of typhoons, calamities. As it were, they are the newly-poor.”
Malacañang in September defended the non-inclusion of funds for the social amelioration program in next year’s proposed national budget, saying the government expects the economy to improve as it anticipates more job opportunities next year.
"Tapos na po ang pamimigay ng ayuda dahil hindi na po natin plano magkaroon ng malawakang lockdowns," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque had said.
(We will stop providing aid since we don't plan to implement widespread lockdowns anymore.)