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2024 budget to include P450 billion aid to poor families


Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla – The Philippine Star

December 20, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least P450 billion in financial assistance for poor and low-income families is included in the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, according to Speaker Martin Romualdez.

He said Congress has allocated a total of P300 billion for 12 million poor and 48 million low-income families who would be getting a one-time cash assistance of P5,000 each from the government.

The cash aid dubbed AKAP or Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita was conceptualized by the House leadership, along with Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, who chairs the House appropriations committee.

“It aims to provide direct cash assistance to those earning up to P23,000 per month. At least 12 million households will benefit from the program, including low-income workers in construction and factories, drivers, food service crew and the like,” Romualdez said. 

“If the program is successful, we can continue implementing it next year,” he added.

Romualdez also disclosed that legislators have earmarked P23 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation and another P30 billion for the TUPAD (Tulong Pang-hanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantage/Displaced) program of the Department of Labor and Employment for workers.

As for the administration’s food security program, Romualdez said P80 billion would go to the Department of Agriculture’s National Irrigation Authority.

Specialty hospitals will get P6 billion in funding in next year’s budget and a separate P800 million was allocated for the construction of a shelter port for fishermen in Lawak, Palawan.

The Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Cancer Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Bicol Regional Medical Center will get P1 billion each.

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute will receive P1.5 billion and P500 million for the Batangas Regional Medical Center. 

Not pork

The Senate has assured the public that the questioned P450-billion unprogrammed appropriations under the 2024 national budget will not end up as pork barrel funds of lawmakers.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor Ejercito maintained there was no irregularity in the additional funding as there were clear provisions on which projects or programs would be funded.

“These projects can be easily checked by the Commission on Audit,” he said.

Ejercito noted that the implementation of the programs and projects depends on government agencies and the availability of funds.

He expressed confidence that the President will accept and sign the final version of the 2024 national budget within the week.

Ejercito hopes that Marcos will not exercise a line item veto on the budget as Congress removed the confidential and intelligence funds requested by civilian agencies.

Ejercito, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda and Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the finance committee, will attend today’s ceremonial signing of the 2024 national budget.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III has said the ratified version of the national budget could be considered unconstitutional as the unprogrammed funds added by the bicameral conference committee would make the budget breach P6 trillion.

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