Cayetano wants easier access to gov’t aid for Filipinos

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

February 28, 2022, 6:40 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday 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.

Cayetano, who is running for the Senate, vowed to make access to government assistance programs a priority agenda this year amid a fragile recovery from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

He added that small business owners also need help in restarting or recapitalizing their businesses that were affected by the pandemic restrictions.

“Ang good news po ay merong almost PHP500 billion sa ating 2022 budget na iba't ibang klaseng ayuda at tulong, whether ‘yan ay sa gamot, sa Department of Health – more than PHP20 billion ‘yan – sa DSWD, sa DTI (The good news is that there is almost PHP500 billion in the 2022 budget in terms of different aid programs, whether that’s for medicines, with the Department of Health – that’s PHP20 billion – with the DSWD, the DTI)," he said.

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 (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)," he said.

He said 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.

“Sabi ng iba ay ‘yan daw ay dole out, pero sabi po natin ngayong panahon ng pandemic, ‘yan po talaga ay pantawid (Others say that this is just a dole out, but we counter that during the pandemic, a stimulus is a way to get people through the worst of it),” 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 (We are pushing that small businesses, the unemployed, OFWs, senior citizens, single parents, persons with disabilities, everyone should receive stimulus)” he added.

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 on February 17 said the Philippines’ 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. (PNA)