MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado to look for more funds to expand the number of beneficiaries of the second tranche of emergency subsidies from the national government, Malacañang said on Friday.
Duterte gave the fresh order to ensure that all 23 million poor families will be included on the list of eligible beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) who will receive the second wave of cash assistance, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“He (Duterte) has ordered Wendel Avisado, our DBM (Department of Budget and Management) Secretary, [to] try to prune down or try to really come up with the viable list of budgetary items that can be realigned for the purpose of giving social amelioration to the people,” Roque said in a television interview.
Around 23 million SAP beneficiaries are expected to get the first tranche of emergency cash subsidies from the national government.
The original number of SAP recipients is 18 million.
Duterte, however, has wanted five million more poor families to also receive cash assistance to help them cope with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Roque said Duterte’s latest directive was to realign funds to make sure that all the 23 million beneficiaries will benefit from the second phase of SAP.
“The President has ordered DBM Secretary to find ways and means to give Social Amelioration to everyone in the second tranche,” he said.
Under the SAP, low-income households are eligible to receive cash aid worth between PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 for the months of April and May.
Malacañang on Thursday said only 13 million out of 23 million poor families will get the second wave of financial assistance due to limited funds.
Roque said Duterte might ask Congress to grant his administration an additional PHP50-billion budget for the SAP implementation, in case DBM fails to reallocate funds for the distribution of emergency subsidies.
“If we cannot realign funds, ask congressional leaders to help him find the financing because this is a staggering additional PHP50 billion if we were to give social amelioration to all 23 million beneficiaries of SAP on the second tranche,” he said.
Local government units (LGUs) have to first submit a liquidation report on the distribution of the first tranche of cash aid before the second tranche of payouts can be released.
Some LGUs with complete liquidation reports have already started the implementation of the second phase of SAP. (IA/PNA)