President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he has instructed Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III to increase the aid to poor families to P500.
Earlier, the President approved only P200 in cash assistance to poor families.
In a speech delivered at Malacañan Palace, Duterte said he obtained feedback “from the ground” that the PHP200 monthly cash aid was “too small” and could not sustain a family of three to five members.
“They are the productive Filipinos for tomorrow ‘if not now. I told Sonny, ‘It will be an uphill battle for the next generation if we make it P500,’” he said.
He said it would be up to the next administration where to get a budget for the fuel subsidy.
“So I hope that this would go a long way really to help,” he added.
Last week, Malacañang said the government is aiming to distribute the monthly subsidy to beneficiaries within the month.
Acting Presidential Spokesperson Martin Andanar said the cash aid will be given on top of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) conditional cash grant of up to P3,450 per month.
The 4Ps conditional cash grant is composed of a P750 health and nutrition grant, educational grants for a maximum of three children per household – P700 for senior high school, P500 for junior high school, P300 for elementary, and a P600 rice subsidy.
Andanar said the amount is what the government can currently afford.
However, the policy drew criticisms, even from lawmakers who said that P200 is meager.
The move to provide for a monthly fuel subsidy came alongside Duterte’s decision to retain the excise tax on different fuel products.
The DOF said the suspension of fuel excise taxes would lead to a massive revenue loss of P105.9 billion, or about a half-percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year.