Senator Pimentel urges review of cash aid programs

Senator Pimentel urges review of cash aid programs

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:25 AM March 04, 2024

PHOTO: Beneficiaries queue up to get their monthly doles from automated teller machines. STORY: Senator Pimentel urges review of cash aid programs

CASH TRANSFERS | Aid beneficiaries queue up to get their monthly dole from automated teller machines. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday called for a review of the government’s “ayuda” (cash aid) program as he cited alleged abuses in the system.

“We need to rationalize the ayuda approach of the government, considering that these financial assistance programs are funded under the national budget law,” he said in an interview on dzBB.


“We cannot deny that so many people need help. Life is hard. But let’s give it to the ones who really need help,” he added.


Pimentel said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should lead the rationalization of all poverty alleviation programs to ensure the country’s poor and marginalized households are the ones benefiting from them.

“Because the budget starts with the president, the executive branch should look into this,” the Senate leader said.

“I thought we have a presidential adviser on poverty alleviation? He should bring out his brightest ideas on how we will rationalize these programs,” he added.

He emphasized the government needs to train the cash aid programs for the poorest of the poor.

“There are so many leakages. We want to do so much but we haven’t really been helping the poor,” he said.

“Let’s not be too ambitious that we help even those who are able and can walk. Let’s prioritize those who cannot stand,” Pimentel added.


Among the cash assistance programs of the government include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation, Medical Assistance for Indigent Individuals, and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

Controversial aid

Pimentel cited the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program (Akap), supposedly intended for “near-poor” and low-income families. The program gives a one-time financial grant of P5,000 to each of the estimated 12 million beneficiary families.

During the Senate’s probe of the signature campaign for a people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution, the senators questioned the P26.7-billion Akap fund allocation in the 2024 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

It was Sen. Imee Marcos who initially brought to light the alleged scheme surrounding the controversial cash aid.

She bared that Akap was one of the government-sponsored aid programs used to entice Filipinos to join the signature drive to amend the Constitution.

For Pimentel, Akap was an unnecessary addition to the long list of government cash aid programs.

“It suddenly appeared during the bicam [that] this is financial assistance for those who are already earning. Why don’t we help those who are not earning? The logical thing to do is to prioritize the poorest of the poor,” he added.

Taking advantage

Pimentel pointed out the testimony of one resource person during the Senate hearing.

“He presented five IDs and he admitted that he is a beneficiary of five different programs of the government. It seems they are playing with the system. There are those who are really taking advantage of these programs,” he said.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs has been investigating an alleged “ayuda scam” in some parts of Mindanao, where beneficiaries claimed to have received only a small fraction of the financial assistance.

READ: Keep politicians off DSWD cash aid distribution – Pimentel

The issue raised concerns about the fairness of aid distribution as well as corruption among local officials allegedly behind the kickbacks.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito is also pushing for an “exit mechanism” for the distribution of financial aid and the creation of “sustainable” social programs to avoid the growing “ayuda mentality” among Filipinos.

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Ejercito emphasized that financial aid or subsidies are supposed to be “temporary measures.”

TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel III, government cash aid programs

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