Press Release
September 28, 2020

Make P10 B unreleased SAP part of bigger Christmas ayuda

Late is better than zero.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is pressing anew the DSWD to distribute the balance of P10 billion from what Congress has authorized in the second Bayanihan Law as cash aid to pandemic-affected families.

"If under the worst case scenario it can be given late November, then it can qualify as a Christmas ayuda," Recto said.

"And if President Duterte would back a proposal for a third round of SAP this Christmas, he will have the backing of both houses of Congress," Recto said.

By all accounts, this will be the bleakest Christmas since the World War II years, Recto said. "Some monetary cheer from the government will go a long way," Recto said.

He said the amount is secondary to the gesture of giving. "Importante dito ay may naibigay ang gobyerno sa isang panahon na dapat masaya pero nagbabadyang malungkot."

"Mr. President, run the numbers, name the amount, we will give our approval. Wala nang mahabang CBA or Christmas Bargaining Agreement negotiations kung tulong ang pag-uusapan."

Recto said his proposal, in effect, includes the poor in the government's grant of year-end bonuses to its employees.

He said the government's Christmas ayuda can be coursed via several platforms, not just through SAP.

"For PUV drivers, it can be in the form of service contracts in which drivers are given a fixed amount for ferrying physically distanced passengers," Recto said.

"It can be through livelihood projects like village-level mask production. Or short work-for-food programs in the maintenance or building of road, bicycle, and agricultural infrastructure," Recto said.

"Another help students would appreciate this Christmas is the roll out of more free Wi-Fi spots."

For those in the government employ, government should pay what it owes frontliners, like the hazard pay of medical workers. "Dapat zero billing, wala nang utang pagsapit ng Pasko. Government should not be a Scrooge."

An executive order increasing the Teaching Supplies Allowance to defray the cost of reproducing student handouts and "replenishing internet load, will be appreciated by the almost 1 million public teaching corps.

Some ayuda does not entail cash out, like the privilege to work again, Recto said.

"These would include allowing drivers of motor-taxis, under the most stringent health and safety protocols, to ply the streets again, and benefit the transportation-starved workforce needed to restart the economy."

But the priority, he said, is that the so-called SAP orphans will get their due, no matter late.

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