Cayetano vows to make gov’t aid easier to access

In a media interview, Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pledged to make access to government assistance programs a priority agenda this year, amid a promising but fragile recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So isang pinaglalaban natin ngayon pa lang, at siyempre pagdating sa Senado, ay mapadali ang mga prosesong ito para lahat po ng nangangailangan,” Cayetano said in a media interview.

(So one of the things we are pushing for even now, and of course when we get to the Senate, is to make these processes easier for those who really need them.)

He said applying for the various assistance programs provided for in the 2022 national budget should be made easier for people so that they are empowered to take control of their families’ economic outcomes, as is the case with small business owners who need help in restarting or recapitalizing their businesses that were affected by the pandemic downturn.

“Ang good news po ay merong almost P500 billion sa ating 2022 budget na iba’t ibang klaseng ayuda at tulong, whether ‘yan ay sa gamot, sa Department of Health – more than P20 billion ‘yan – sa DSWD, sa DTI,” Cayetano said.

“But in the case po nitong P500 billion, the reality is marami pong nagko-complain na ‘pag wala silang kilala o padrino, mahirap mag-apply, or mahirap buuin yung mga requirements,” he added.

(The good news is that there is almost P500 billion in the 2022 budget in terms of different aid programs, whether that’s for medicines, with the Department of Health – that’s P20 billion – with the DSWD, the DTI. But in the case of that P500 billion, the reality is that there are many out there who complain that if you don’t know someone in the bureaucracy, it’s difficult to apply for it, or it’s difficult to meet all the requirements.)

Cayetano also raised the need for more direct stimulus similar to the pandemic stimulus packages enacted by the United States as well as Singapore and other Asian neighbors.

“Nasa budget na ‘yan. We will continue to fight for that, we’ll continue na ipaglaban na ngayong panahon ng pandemic, katulad ng sa US, ng Singapore at ibang pang bansa, direktang magbigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayan,” Cayetano said.

(These things are already in the budget. We will continue to fight for that, we’ll continue to push that amid the pandemic, just like in the US, in Singapore and other countries, we should give cash aid directly to our people.)

The former House Speaker pointed out that the government has proven itself capable of implementing a nationwide stimulus program, having done so twice in the first year of the pandemic with Bayanihan Acts 1 and 2.

Bayanihan 2 expired in June 2021, while the follow-up Bayanihan 3 was passed by the House in August that year.

“Sabi ng iba ay ‘yan daw ay doleout, pero sabi po natin ngayong panahon ng pandemic, ‘yan po talaga ay pantawid e,” Cayetano said.

“Pinaglalaban natin na maging small businesses man ‘yan o mga nawalan ng trabaho, ‘yan man ay maging OFW, senior citizen, single parent, persons with disability, lahat ‘yan ay kailangan makakuha ng ayuda,” he added.

(Others say that this is just a doleout, but we counter that during the pandemic, stimulus is a way to get people through the worst of it. We are pushing that small business, the unemployed, OFWs, senior citizens, single parents, persons with disabilities, everyone should receive stimulus.)

Despite better-than-expected growth in 2021, economic experts still see the Philippines struggling with the long-term economic effects of the pandemic.

S&P Global Ratings said on February 17 the country’s economy may never make up for the gap in lost output that emerged as a result of the sharp 9.6 percent contraction in 2020. Meanwhile, the World Bank warned earlier this month that loan defaults could increase sharply once pandemic assistance programs are scaled back. ####