SINCE these were not included in the 2021 national budget which is now undergoing final deliberation in the House of Representatives, Cebu City North District Rep. Raul Del Mar filed three bills aimed at poverty alleviation, saving families from severe hunger and preventing the stunting (not growing or developing properly) of children.
Del Mar filed House Bill 7899, which seeks to institutionalize the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) by regularly releasing it at four quarterly tranches each year. He also filed House Bill 7900, which aims to save families from severe hunger and House Bill 7901, which seeks to prevent the stunting of children and to make every Filipino child healthier, brighter and taller.
Del Mar explained in his HB 7899, “the SAP subsidy was one of the most effective forms of assistance by the government to 17.6 million low-income families during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Under his HB 7900, he explained, a monthly cash subsidy to the families in severe hunger, defined for the purpose as families suffering from severe hunger often or always. These are families that have no steady income for their daily food on the table.
While his HB 7901 says that “stunting is a crisis that does not only affect physical growth of children.” It also impacts on the individual’s intellectual development and the country’s economic growth. The Dietary Supplement Program proposed in the bill seeks to provide assistance to pregnant women and parents of children from birth to 23 months who are not covered by current dietary aid program by the government. The cash aid will provide them access to sufficient and quality supplemental food.
I am not against the giving of financial assistance to the underprivileged sectors as there are really some in our society who need help. But the implementing agency, in this case the Department of Social Welfare and Development, should be prudent enough to carefully select only those who are highly qualified to be enrolled in the programs. Local politicians, like barangay, municipal and city officials, should keep their hands off the selection process for beneficiaries to avoid politics, favoritism and blood relation.
Look what happened to the distribution of SAP during the Covid-19 pandemic. The distribution was tainted with politics, favoritism, anomalies and corruption. That was why there were several barangay officials, barangay health workers, city and municipal social welfare workers facing charges because of manipulation in the selection of beneficiaries and distribution of the financial assistance.
What happened to the barangay officials in Barangay Tubod, Barili was a classic example of the questionable selection and distribution of SAP beneficiaries. The barangay officials are now facing graft charges for allegedly giving advantage to their relatives. A social worker in Lapu-Lapu City was also charged because she reportedly included her close relatives in the list of beneficiaries.
Maayo ning mga balaudnon ni Del Mar kay pagtabang gyud sa mga kabus. Pero ayuhon lang gyud unta pagpili ang mga beneficiaries sa implementing agency. Si Del Mar nagpabilin nga kampeyon sa mga kabus ug timawa.
By the way, how true is the information I got that Del Mar will be designated as deputy speaker for the Visayas under House Speaker Allan Lord Velasco’s watch? He held that position under then House Speaker Jose De Venecia’s term during the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Congratulations in advance.