A senator has filed Senate Resolution No. 597, urging the appropriate Senate committee to scrutinize the implementation of the unconditional cash transfer under Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which was enacted into law on December 19, 2017.
Sen. Bam Aquino wants to ensure that the cash assistance for 10 million poor Filipino families under the TRAIN Law is sufficient to cover the increase in prices of goods and other services.
“Siguraduhin natin na makakarating nga ang financial assistance sa mga pamilyang nangangailangan. Bantayan natin ang proseso at suriin natin kung sapat na ang 200 pesos kada buwan,” said Sen. Bam.
“The government must prioritize the poor and ensure that its policies benefit them rather than impose even more financial burdens,” Sen. Bam added.
Republic Act No. 10963 mandates financial assistance to 10 million poor Filipinos to counter the expected increase in prices of goods. In 2018, they will receive P200 monthly followed by a P300 monthly cash subsidy in 2019 and 2010.
However, the government said it cannot implement the cash transfer program at the same time as the tax reform and expected price increases due to lack of proper infrastructure.
The government intends to use the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) system for the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) to distribute funds to the existing 1.8 million beneficiaries with cash cards by January 31, 2018. But the remaining 2.6 million recipients without cards would have to wait.
Sen. Bam also said that the cash transfer for the additional 5.6 million households is still in limbo with no actual date of release set.
“The failure of the government to implement an effective financial assistance program in time for the projected price increases will burden Filipino families,” stressed Sen. Bam.
During the measure’s period of amendments in the Senate, Sen. Bam pushed for the immediate implementation of the financial assistance program to help poor Filipinos absorb the expected increase in the prices of goods and services.
However, Sen. Bam’s proposal was not accepted, prompting the senator to vote against its ratification.
“Without a cash transfer program in place, poor Filipinos will bear the brunt of the increase in prices of goods and services due to the fuel taxes and sweetened beverage tax. Without the necessary safeguards for the poor, I cannot support this measure,” Sen. Bam emphasized.