Drilon: Give cash, not rice
Beneficiaries of the social welfare department’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) should instead be given cash subsidies rather than rice supply, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.
In a hearing on the P128.808-billion 2017 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Drilon got Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo to agree to his proposal, saying that distributing heavy rice packs to families was not only costly but also cumbersome.
The provision of rice subsidies to beneficiary families is one component of government’s 4Ps conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, with 20 kilos allocated per family per month. DSWD officials said the supply is priced at P32.5 per kilo, equivalent to a monthly allocation of P600.
The DSWD has a proposed allocation of P23 billion for rice subsidies under the CCT program next year.
Cash vs hunger
“Let’s give cash instead. Why are we insisting on a rice subsidy? Rice coupons?… If you give it in cash, it doesn’t mean you’re not fighting hunger,” Drilon told social welfare officials.
“We will insert a special provision (in the budget) which will provide that the rice subsidy shall be given in the form of cash. And that grant should not, in any way, allow or authorize the distribution of actual rice, which is terrible,” Drilon said.
He told Taguiwalo that he had already secured the concurrence of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and National Economic Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia in an earlier budget briefing to convert the rice subsidy into cash.