(File photo) Individuals line up to receive cash aid from the national government during enhanced community quarantine at a basketball court in Manila on August 11, 2021 (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)
(Eagle News) — Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that financial aid or “ayudas” linked to the COVID-19 pandemic such as the Bayanihan 1 and 2 “should cease as normalization is achieved and given the continuous recovery of the economy.
Instead, Diokno said that the Philippine government should prioritize existing social protection programs such as those for senior citizens and welfare grants for poor families.
“Public finances are finite. They have to be allocated judiciously for programs and projects that would result in the greatest benefit for the greatest number of citizens and the overall welfare,” the Finance chief said.
Diokno said that at present, with the economy returning to normal and the full restoration of public mobility, the COVID-19 financial assistance should already be stopped “as we learn to live with the virus.”
-Continue existing social protection programs-
“With the normalization, it is more appropriate to continue the existing social protection programs — the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) welfare grants for poor families with children of school age, support for senior citizens, assistance to displaced workers, etc. The ayudas associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as in Bayanihan I and II, should cease as normalization is achieved and as we learn to live with the virus,” Diokno explained.
At the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, the distribution of cash aids was justified, he said.
But now citizens can move freely and are already back to work. Face-to-face classes are also back.
-Focus on indigent seniors-
“It’s better to use public resources for the indigent seniors, if funds are available, than for the ayudas meant for the general public,” said Secretary Diokno.
He cited the financing requirement for the recently approved Republic Act No. 11916, or the Social Pension for Indigent Seniors Act which lapsed into law on July 30, 2022. The law doubled the monthly pension for senior citizens from P500 to P1,000.
(Eagle News Service)