More LGUs are heeding call for universal approaches to social support measures, says SocialWatch Philippines
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2020
Leaving no one behind is a hallmark of the universal approaches to the delivery of social protection measures. “We commend some local chief executives (LCEs) and their city and municipal councils for providing more universal social protection coverage to their constituents. Coming up with supplemental budgets to finance these initiatives show political will”, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) said in a statement.
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was the first to express concern about the fact that around 113,000 families will be excluded from #SocialAmeliorationProgram (SAP) benefits and that this would cause social unrest among his constituents. He announced that the Pasig LGU will come up with a supplemental budget of ₱1.5 billion to cover the cash assistance gap. While this will not match the ₱16,000 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to cover two months, the Pasig City government will study its cash position, cancel certain activities/projects and realign its budget in order to provide a one-time handout of ₱8,000.
“Other LGUs have also risen to the occasion and are now exploring more universalist approaches”, added Dr. Ma. Victoria Raquiza, SWP Co-Convenor. Mayor Joy Belmonte has signed a supplemental budget of ₱2.8 billion passed by the Quezon City Government two weeks ago to provide more services to its residents. A second and third supplemental budget in the amount of ₱1.9 billion boosted its COVID-19 support measures last April 28. Previous reports indicated that more than 346,000 poor families in Quezon City may have been discarded from the national government’s emergency subsidy assistance.
Key components of the ₱4.7 billion worth of assistance in Quezon City are broken down as follows:
· ₱1.5 billion budget for the provision of cash aid of those who are not included in the DSWD list in which each family receives ₱4,000 subsidy;
· ₱1.46 billion for the purchase of relief goods for repacking and distribution to families,
· ₱903 million for the “Kalingang QC” program to be provided for the wages and hazard pay of contractual city government employees and to vulnerable sectors who are given ₱2,000 cash aid each;
· ₱200 million budget for the continued adjustment of the wages and hazard pay of contractual and job-order employees; and
· ₱200 million for hazard pay of barangay frontlines, with each barangay worker receiving ₱200 per day.
“During this time of great insecurity and humanitarian crisis, we laud the Pasig City and Quezon City governments for expanding their emergency assistance. This move underscores that they recognize that providing social protection is a right and entitlement to be claimed by all citizens, and which the State is duty-bound to deliver”, said Raquiza, who teaches public administration at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte has seen the value of casting a wider social protection cover. Last April 13, he announced that the government will give aid to families not on the DSWD emergency subsidy list. On May 2nd, he approved an additional 4 million families to be included in the emergency cash subsidy program, which is on top of the 18 million low-income household initially indentified to receive a cash handout between ₱5,000- ₱8,000.
“Now is not the time to impose strict criteria of who is deserving of government aid and who is not, especially for those living in impoverished and low-income communities. During this period of intensified and widespread poverty, they are all deserving”, observed Raquiza. In doing so, there is no need to conduct a validation process per family; at the very least, let us exercise this with maximum leniency thereby expediting the provision of assistance and expanding the number of beneficiaries. “This practice also promotes administrative ease for the local government units (LGUs) which, it seems, are stretched to capacity”, she explained.
Furthermore, congressmen like Alfred Vargas of the 5th District, and Christopher Belmonte of the 6th District of Quezon City, and Mayor Dan Reyes of the Municipality of Agoncillo, Batangas all have expressed support for more inclusive approaches to social protection for their constituents.
SWP observes that inclusive schemes of public service delivery lessen exclusion, which, especially in these times, can further fuel dissatisfaction and social unrest. These also encourage social cohesion and solidarity, especially at the community level, public values which are now most needed. “They likewise reduce local patronage politics and ‘palakasan’ as all households in poor communities will receive the support they are entitled to”, SWP claimed.
“Cities, municipalities, and provinces should make the most out of their excess income, savings, new revenue sources, their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the Bayanihan Grant to set up universal and inclusive programs during the COVID-19 emergency”, SWP said. The DBM released an amount of ₱37.02 billion for the one-time financial assistance to LGUs under the Bayanihan Law, which is equivalent to one month of their respective IRA for Fiscal Year 2020. In Quezon City, ₱479.12 million budget for relief goods was sourced from their share in the Bayanihan Grant; while Pasig City has a ₱139.4 million allocation under the said fund.
“Other LGUs can follow the lead of the aforementioned local governments, learn from their experiences, and implement similar mechanisms to their respective localities. With fund sources from respective excess income, new revenue sources, local savings, supplemental budgets, trust fund, and the Bayanihan Grant, we hope that LGUs can be able to apply more universal approaches in other social amelioration measures. We also call the national government to re-think and re-imagine our policies and systems for more inclusive social protection, food security, provision of secure employment and decent housing in a post-pandemic world”, Raquiza concluded.
Read the Full Position Paper here: A Proposal to Simplify and Fast-Track the Social Amelioration Program and Other Social Protection Measures
Contact Person: Ma. Victoria R. Raquiza
Contact No: 0949-8876321
Social Watch Philippines (SWP), is a network of a hundred civil society organizations advocating for transparent, efficient, accountable and pro-poor use of public funds.
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“It’s time for more universal approaches”, Social Watch Philippines tells government on social measures