Press Release
September 14, 2010

Pia welcomes 123% DSWD budget hike, but airs
concern on cash transfer programs for the poor

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said the proposed 123-percent increase in the allocation of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) under the P1.645-trillion general appropriations bill for 2011 should be viewed positively, saying social services have long been neglected in previous years and administrations.

"Social services are an integral part of the government's poverty alleviation program, and yet these programs have long been overlooked in the budget system," said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committees on Health and Demography, and on Youth, Women and Family Relations.

"The 123-percent hike in the DSWD's allocation is actually a break from the old system where the agency was made to scour for funds just to sustain the government's many pro-poor programs."

But the lady senator expressed reservations on how the additional budget can truly be effective in uplifting the lives of the poor.

"Having said that, I have my concerns on conditional cash transfers and other undefined dole-out programs for the poor. To my mind, there are many other specific programs that would be more effective in helping the poor, such as better access to medicines and medical services, and providing livelihood opportunities for indigent families."

She also cited the need to allocate the budgets of the DSWD, along with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Education (DepEd), to align their respective programs with the country's targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"Since President Aquino himself has made a commitment to achieve the MDGs, may I suggest that the budget of these agencies be allocated accordingly in line with achieving our targets under the MDGs. These include reducing poverty incidence by half, achieving universal access to education, and improving maternal and children's health by 2015."

Cayetano issued the statement in reaction to criticisms on the 123% increase in the DSWD budget, which went up to P34.4 billion as proposed next year from P15.4 billion this year.

Bulk of the increase will reportedly go to the "4Ps" or "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program" (P29.2 billion) which will fund, among others, the P1,400 monthly stipend for some 2.3 million indigent families as indentified by DSWD under the government's conditional cash transfer program.

Also included in the DSWD budget is the P2.8-billion feeding program for schoolchildren, P4.2-billion rice subsidy program, and the P890-million allocation for the P500-monthly pension of indigent senior citizens aged 80 and above under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act (ESCA) of 2010.

The Senate Committee on Finance is also set to tackle the proposed budget of the DSWD on Tuesday.

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