Legarda: Increase DSWD budget, make it a pandemic recovery budget

September 30, 2021

Three-term Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for a national budget that ensures the integration of human capital development and climate resilience in government policies and programs.

Legarda, former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, made the statement during the budget deliberation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the House of Representatives stressing that the proposed Php 191.4 billion budget for the agency under the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) should be augmented to provide better socio-economic services to the marginalized and vulnerable sectors.

“Dapat nating tandaan na ang pag-ahon sa pandemya ay hindi lamang nakatuon sa suliraning pangkalusugan kundi pati na rin sa pangkabuhayan. We have an estimated 20 million poor Filipinos, which include more than 4 million active beneficiaries registered under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who depend on government programs like the Department’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), and Cash-for-Work Risk Resiliency Program to cope with socio-economic challenges, especially amid the pandemic and the continuing climate crisis,” Legarda said.

Legarda has called for the Congress’ support in amending the budget of DSWD to include additional funding for the SLP. Legarda noted that under the NEP, only Php 4.864 billion is allocated for SLP, a livelihood program that supports 4Ps families and individuals to eventually gain financial independence. It offers two tracks—microenterprise development, which provides a maximum of Php 15,000 seed capital fund as capital for small businesses such as sari-sari store, shoe repair, poultry raising, among others; and employment facilitation, providing maximum of Php 5,000 per individual as assistance for processing of employment documents and to augment expenses for the first fifteen days of employment.

“We have to consider the statistics of our beneficiaries in allocating our budget and ensure that a majority, if not all, will be able to improve their level of well-being and economic status. With the current proposed allocation for SLP, only around 8% of the 4 million 4Ps beneficiaries will be accommodated under the microenterprise development track. For us to reduce chronic poverty and promote human capital development in the country, we have to augment DSWD’s budget especially for the allocation of these programs,” Legarda said.

As the principal author of the Magna Carta of the poor, Legarda lamented that the proposed budget of DSWD does not seem to be reflective of a pandemic recovery budget that gives priority to the poorest of the poor, neither is it a resilient budget that prepares and addresses the needs of vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change through implementation of temporary employment with activities that include planting of indigenous trees, organic gardening, waterways dredging, community clean-ups, rehabilitation of river banks, among others considering that the Philippines is a vulnerable nation often visited by typhoons.

According to Legarda, it is not enough that we plan just to recover from this pandemic, the three-term Senator committed that she will actively push and introduce amendments to the DSWD budget to ensure that it is aligned with the pandemic recovery and climate justice, as well as in compliance with the provisions of the Magna Carta of the Poor.

“As public servants, we have to take care of the human capital so that our economic gains also address the needs of the people. We have to provide our people with programs and services that would usher in personal growth, community development and national progress. As long as there is zero-tolerance for corruption in the implementation of these programs that invest in the human capital and the marginalized sector, we will be able to overcome this pandemic and tread the path towards an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery,” Legarda concluded.***