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Monday, May 27, 2024

Food stamp plan set for pilot-test in July—DSWD

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is set to pilot-test its food stamp program in the second half of the year, Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, the DSWD chief said they are now in the design stage of the program to properly fill in the gaps that may be overlooked during its implementation.

“We are working with PSA’s [Philippine Statistics Authority] in-house poverty expert who is their Usec – Usec. Dennis Mapa – he is helping us craft the concept there. So, the remaining days of May and June, we will work on designing it. Now, July to December will be the pilot run to vet the (program) properly,” Gatchalian added.

With the help of the Marcos administration’s economic team, Gatchalian said the DSWD is trying to package the financing side of the food stamp program of the national government, hoping to launch the actual run in the first quarter of next year.

“But we have to point out that we will not also do it simultaneously (for the targeted) one million (families).  That’s trouble waiting to happen. We have to do it in a progressive manner.  We have to do the pilot at 3,000 families; 300,000 hopefully next year sa first run; another 300,000 right after and then hopefully reach the magic number of one million in the succeeding year,” he said.

He pointed out that throughout the program, the DSWD will continuously monitor and measure the beneficiaries in the regions that it has identified.

The DSWD has identified five pilot sites coming from different geopolitical characteristics – one in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), what used to be a former conflict area; one in geographically isolated regions or provinces; one in urban poor settings; one will be calamity-stricken areas; and one will be a rural poor area.

The food stamp program or the “Walang Gutom 2027” aims to provide electronic benefit transfers that will be loaded with food credits amounting to P3,000 to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD-accredited local retailers.

“We now have the first draft of the design and we will spend the remaining months of May and June in the design stage… we have hired multiple consultants in the department to take a second look at what’s being designed,” Gatchalian said.

“We have to work with the economic team on trying to package the economic side of the financing side of it. Hopefully next year we get to do the run, the actual run, first quarter of next year,” he added.

The DSWD said it is targeting the bottom one million households from the Listahanan 3 belonging to the food-poor criteria as defined by the PSA.

Asked about the funding, Gatchalian said the Asian Development Program would provide at approximately $3 million for the pilot run of the project.

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