Student cash aid from DSWD and rich LGUs should continue | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Student cash aid from DSWD and rich LGUs should continue

/ 09:21 AM August 23, 2022

The recent people surge in DSWD offices for educational assistance is indicative of the hard times we are in. More so now, that children of families are back in school, and any cash assistance at this point are lifesaving. Of course, Pantawid Pamilya families and government scholars were not included.

But to many, there was confusion and miscommunication leading to huge lines, where some even got hurt. We must understand the desperation and distress of parents and the recipients in those situations. But overall, the exercise was beneficial and successful. The redeeming fact is that government is indeed helping its people by giving out educational cash assistance with least requirements.

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Latest numbers say that in the initial payout, a total of 48,400 indigent students from all regions received P141-M. Highest disbursements are in Western Visayas (P20.7M), Ilocos (P20.4M), CALABARZON (P14.M), Cagayan Valley (P10.5M) and SOCSARGEN (P8.6M). National Capital Region serviced 1,594 clients (P4.1M) while DSWD Central office had 2,149 clients (P7.8M). Elementary students each received P1,000, high school student-P2,000, senior high school-P3,000 and college students-P4,000. Payouts are done every Saturday until Sept. 2 with a limit of up to 3 students every family.

DSWD sec. Erwin Tulfo says this social service for students and their families is part of their Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program. With an expected budgetary savings at yearend, he expects this educational assistance fund to reach a billion pesos.

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The Crisis assistance idea and funding was a carryover from the Digong administration’s 2022 budget, but the subsequent directive of Pres. Bongbong Marcos to distribute them directly to the students and their families is quite unprecedented and laudable. We must all be grateful.

Will this be a yearly affair? I certainly hope so!

But just to put on record, some LGUs in NCR have been giving monthly allowances to their public-school students from kinder to college for the past years. For instance, Pasay city students receive P1,000 monthly allowance and in addition, all public schools’ classrooms are fully air-conditioned. Paranaque also gives P500 monthly assistance to all public elementary and high school students. Makati has allotted an average of P3.3 B for the benefit of students in their public schools including allowances, free school supplies and feeding programs. Quezon city has 20,000 scholars with P14,000 stipend and tuition.

But what we are witnessing is the changing direction of city management, towards increasing social services funds, compared to the traditional or transactional “infra projects” that enriches politicians. With young and idealist mayors now elected or reelected, they now realize that their constituents need direct help from LGU. Huge funds are now being allotted by your local City hall for its various welfare and relief services, whether Financial, Medical, Burial , Disaster, Transportation, and even Data subscriptions, they are given directly to the people. Senior citizens are now pampered in many cities and their maintenance medicines are distributed free. Some LGU’s are helping bring down food prices by getting supplies from provinces.

And quite the opposite again of traditional politicians, our young mayors led by QC Mayor Joy Belmonte and Makati mayor Abby Binay have both been awarded exemplary compliance to the rules and regulations of the strict Commission on Audit (COA) for the past many years. This means , they are handling and spending their billions of pesos budget with least or without hanky-panky.

We hope their tribe will increase. I also hope that the still greedy politicians , who continue with their transactional ways, get kicked out of their office thru graft cases or the next polls..

Department of Agricultural Importation

I was shocked when I heard the information on television that former Agriculture secretary William Dar reportedly signed 448 “midnight” import permits before he left office in June. These covered not only rice but other agricultural, fisheries and meat products as well. No wonder, Senator Imee Marcos called Secretary Dar’s last moments in office, a “midnight madness” show, transforming his agency to what it really was, a Department of Agricultural Importation.

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Just weeks ago, around 38,400 metric tons of Vietnam rice worth P1-B were unloaded by 20 vessels in the Port of Iloilo from August 4 to 13. Customs officers say they are covered with clearances and permits issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry in compliance with the Rice Tariffication Law. More will be coming.

I recall former Senate President Tito Sotto’s “committee of the whole report 649” signed and validated by seventeen senators, identifying powerful 22 people, involved in smuggling , including a former Customs commissioner, a DA undersecretary, and directors of both Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) . This report was submitted to the Ombudsman and Malacanang has not initiated an agency-wide purge.

Today, PBBM’s acting honcho in the Department is newly appointed undersecretary and old hand Domingo Panganiban. Will he and his boss continue the policies of Dar’s Department of Agricultural Importation? Let’s wait and see.

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