What can P670 million do? On the part of the legislative and executive branches of government, plenty.
Working in tandem, the House of Representatives and the Department of Social Work and Community Development recently launched a program to distribute P670 million worth of financial and rice assistance to an initial 335,000 poor Filipino families in Metro Manila and Laguna.
According to Speaker Martin Romualdez, the program, called the Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) plan, has been started simultaneously in Metro Manila’s 17 localities as well as in Biñan and Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province.
It will eventually be implemented nationwide to benefit some 2.5 million Filipinos at an estimated cost of P5 billion.
Each of Metro Manila’s 33 legislative districts would have 10,000 beneficiaries, while Biñan City and Sta. Rosa City would have a total 5,000 recipients who would each get cash and rice in batches in four days.
Each beneficiary would get P2,000 worth of assistance.
Of this amount, P950 would be for a 25-kilo sack of rice (computed at P38 a kilo) and the balance in cash for the purchase of other food items.
Funding for the program would come from the budget set aside for the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations.
The DSWD would identify the beneficiaries, which would include, apart from indigent Filipinos, persons with disability, senior citizens, solo parents, and indigenous peoples.
The agency could increase the amount of financial aid in some areas depending on its evaluation of prevailing circumstances.
CARD is a timely and appropriate response by the administration in light of the high cost of rice and other goods.
It will enable impoverished Filipino families to gain access to the staple food at better prices.
At the same time, it will serve to prevent rice hoarding and price manipulation by unscrupulous traders.
The recent launch of the Cash and Rice Distribution program coincided with the introduction of the Marcos administration’s Bagong Pilipinas Serbisyo Fair in Laguna following its successful introduction in give other provinces.
With an initial funding of at least P1 billion, this is expected to benefit, at first, more than 400,000 Filipinos seeking to avail themselves of more than 60 services offered by various government agencies, including health and medical support, as well as livelihood and educational assistance.
What is clear from this is that the government is making big strides in poverty alleviation programs aimed at making no one left behind in the country’s push toward sustained and inclusive economic growth.