President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claimed his administration is placing “continuing assistance” for social protection and livelihood “at the top” of its priority list. This needs context.
During an aid distribution ceremony in Palo, Leyte on Nov. 8, Marcos said he had ordered Cabinet members to continue granting assistance to Filipinos “until they can stand on their own feet.”
While noting that the Philippine economy is “improving,” the president said the government still needs to address the rising prices of goods and services. He added:
“That is what we are putting … at the top of our priority list is the continuing assistance … at ang (and the) assistance ay hindi lamang ‘yung ayuda, pati na para sa (is not only in terms of cash, but also for) livelihood, pati na mga para sa mga (including) MSMEs [micro, small, and medium enterprises] na ating tinatawag.
‘Yung ating mga sari-sari store, ‘yung mga nagbebenta ng sigarilyo, ‘yung mga nag-aayos ng sasakyan … ‘yung mga maliliit na negosyong ganyan ay para makatayo ulit pagkatapos nitong pandemya. Dahan-dahang lumalabas ang pandemya para makatayo ulit, nandito rin ang gobyerno para tulungan kayo.”
(The sari-sari stores, cigarette vendors, car repair shops…small businesses like those that need help to recover from the pandemic. Gradually the pandemic is going away; for them to be able to stand on their feet again, the government is here to help you.)
Source: RTVMalacañang, Distribution of Various Government Assistance in Leyte (Speech), Nov. 8, 2022, watch from 2:44 to 3:33
Although the Marcos administration placed “social protection” as one of its budget priorities for “human capital development,” Sonny Africa, executive director of the nonprofit IBON Foundation, noted that the total allocation for these programs in 2023 is P33.28 billion less than the P262.67 billion for 2022.
Based on the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) and the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the programs with reduced budget next year are: Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances, Supplementary Feeding, Sustainable Livelihood, Disaster response and management, Social welfare for distressed overseas Filipinos and trafficked persons under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); and Social Protection and Welfare for OFWs Program under DOLE’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
See the data in this infographic:
IBON Foundation is a nonprofit development organization that “seeks to promote an understanding of socioeconomics that serves the interests and aspirations of the Filipino people.”
In an Aug. 26 House committee hearing on the 2023 budget, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he favors funding existing social protection programs over those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Bayanihan I and II.
He said granting these assistance programs would be a “waste of public funds” given the “limited fiscal space.” He said the country has already “fully recovered” from the health crisis.
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RTVMalacañang, Distribution of Various Government Assistance in Leyte (Speech), Nov. 8, 2022
Sonny Africa, Personal communication (email), Nov. 9, 2022
Department of Budget and Management, 2023 Budget Priorities Framework (Expenditure Priorities)
Department of Budget and Management, General Appropriations Act FY 2022
Department of Budget and Management, National Expenditure Program (Volume 1)
Department of Budget and Management, National Expenditure Program (Volume 2)
Department of Budget and Management, National Expenditure Program (Volume 3)
House of Representatives, FY 2023 Budget Briefings (Committee) DBCC: DBM, NEDA, DOF, BSP ( Part 2 ), Aug. 26, 2022
Department of Finance, Diokno favors financing existing social protection programs over another round of COVID-19 cash subsidies, Aug. 30, 2022
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