March 22, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Finance to find a way to increase the proposed monthly stipend for poor families from P200 to P500 even if it would cause problems for his successor.
During a speech following the ceremonial signing of the amendments for the Public Service Act, Duterte acknowledged that the P200 monthly allowance will not be enough, and this, he said, prompted him to ask Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to find a way to increase it to P500 per month for families amid soaring prices of fuel.
He narrated his conversation with Dominguez: “Sabi ko na, ‘Iyong 200 medyo kulang ‘yun. So how much can you stretch? 500 kaya?’ Sabi niya, ‘Oo pero magkaproblema tayo six months after.’ Sabi ko sa kanya kanina, ‘Buang, wala na tayo diyan, bahala na sila’.”
(I said, ‘That 200 won’t suffice. So how much can you stretch? 500 maybe?” He said, “Yes, but we will have problems six months later.” I told him, ‘Don’t be crazy, we won’t be here by then, let them take care of it.”)
The President admitted that it will be an “uphill battle” for the next president but hoped that the P500 will “go a long way to help.”
“Huwag lang sayangin sa e-sabong (just don’t waste it on e-sabong),” he said.
Duterte approved the P200 monthly allowance in a bid to help poor families mitigate the effects of rising prices of petroleum products.
The DOF proposed to provide a monthly subsidy of P200 per household for indigent families for one year, with the total subsidy amounting to P33.1 billion which would benefit the “bottom 50 percent” income level, or 12 million households comprising around 70 million people.
This proposal, however, was immediately met with criticisms with lawmakers describing it as “a pittance” and a transport group leader saying it was “an insult to all Filipinos.”