'Pleasant surprise': DSWD chief baffled but happy with AKAP funds

‘Pleasant surprise’: DSWD chief baffled but happy with AKAP budget

/ 10:33 AM February 14, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian cannot explain the “mysterious” insertion of P26.7 billion for a program under his department that was questioned during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Gatchalian confirmed that the budget for the Ayuda sa Kapos sa Kita Program (AKAP) was not yet included in the department’s initial line item. It was only included after the bicameral conference committee approved the provisions for the General Appropriations Act (GAA) in December of last year.

READ: DSWD defends AKAP: ‘We don’t create magical projects’


“Tama, wala siya sa initial namin na draft pero noong lumabas, nandoon siya. Ikinagalak namin,” the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary said in an interview over at Radyo 630.


(Right, it is not yet included in our initial draft, but when it came out, it was there. We were glad about it.)

The DSWD chief noted that he was not part of the bicameral conference and could not pinpoint who inserted the budget for AKAP.

“Noong nag-hearing kami wala pa talaga iyan, pero hindi rin namin kayang sumagot kung ano ang nangyari during the bicameral conference meeting. Pero ang kaya naming sabihin sa inyo, natutuwa kami sa programa na iyan at ipapatupad namin na hinggil sa kung anong nakasaad sa batas,” Gatchalian said.

(When we had a hearing, the budget was not yet there, but we can also not tell you what happened during the bicameral conference meeting. But we can tell you that we are happy with that program and will implement it according to the law.)

“I think if someone could explain it, it would be our legislators who were part of the bicameral conference,” the secretary, speaking in Filipino, added.

Gatchalian said he prefers to focus on crafting ways to implement the program correctly over finding out who put the budget for AKAP.


“I don’t have to ask who put it there because it [budget] is not a bad thing for me,” he stressed, saying that it is a pleasant surprise for his department to have a budget for a program that could allow them to help more Filipinos.

‘No payout yet’

In a separate interview, the DSWD Secretary clarified that the department has not yet implemented AKAP as it still lacks proper guidelines, meaning no payout has been distributed to anyone yet.

“There is no payout from that account yet since we are still creating proper guidelines. There is no guideline yet, so there are no payouts as well,” he said over at DZBB.

Gatchalian further explained that AKAP is not a new idea and that the department has been studying the aid program since October 2023.

He said the program is designed to be a safety net for Filipinos who are “near poor” or those who are vulnerable to “economic shocks.”

READ: Senate investigates Cha-cha signature drive

But during a Tuesday hearing at the Senate, senators, including DSWD’s budget sponsor, Senator Imee Marcos, questioned the budget for AKAP.

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Marcos alleged that the funds for AKAP could have been used to prod people into signing for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution via people’s initiative.


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