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Miscellaneous

AKAP program, a responsive and timely effort to aid near-poor Pinoys – DSWD chief

The Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP) is a timely initiative of the Philippine government to assist the near-poor segment of the population, responding to the economic difficulties of Filipinos earning minimum wage, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Tuesday (February 20).

In a press briefing in Malacanang, the DSWD chief explained the importance of the AKAP program that will aid the minimum wage earners, such as cashiers, janitors, sales ladies, and security guards, among others.

“Sila iyong tumutulong sa ating ekonomiya, pero sa oras ng kanilang pangangailangan, saan sila kakapit? Ang gobyerno kailangan responsive. At palagay ko panahon na para bigyan sila ng atensyon,” Sec. Gatchalian told the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC)

(They are the ones helping our economy, but in times need, where will they turn? The government needs to be responsive. I believe it’s time to give them attention.)

The DSWD Secretary pointed out that “near poor” families are vulnerable to economic shocks such as runaway inflation that can easily send them back or put them into poverty.

“Itong mga minimum wage earner natin, isang shock lang sa pamilya, may namatay, may nagkasakit, inflation, may hindi inaasahang pagkakataon, they are so vulnerable na pwede silang mag-spiral pabalik sa kahiraparan,” Sec. Gatchalian told Palace reporters.

(The minimum wage earners, with just one shock to the family – a death, an illness, inflation, an unexpected turn of events – they are so vulnerable that they could spiral back into poverty.)

When the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2024 put in a program such as AKAP, Secretary Gatchalian said it was a welcome news to the DSWD since the agency has been looking at expanding the definition of the vulnerable sector to include near-poor families in the possible beneficiaries of the various social safety nets.

“Matagal nang pag-aaral sa departamento natin na kailangan mayroon tayong programa para sa ating mga near-poor or minimun wage earner,” Sec. Gatchalian pointed out.

(There has been a long-standing consideration in our department of the need for a program for our near-poor or minimum-wage earners.)

The DSWD chief added: “If you look at the special provision ng AKAP sa batas [in the GAA], it is meant for our minimum wage earner to protect [them] and serve as] an anti-inflation mechanism”.

Sec. Gatchalian assured the public that the DSWD will craft the guidelines to ensure the program’s smooth and efficient fulfillment of the agency’s mandate.

“Sisiguraduhin namin na gagawa kami ng isang guideline na faithful at paninindigan niya iyong special provision na binigay ng kongreso,” the DSWD chief stressed.

(We will ensure that we create guidelines that are faithful and adhere to the special provision given by Congress.)

Sec. Gatchalian maintained that the Legislative branch has the power of the purse and that the agency respects their prerogatives in introducing amendments to the national budget.

“Based on their wisdom because they do a lot of public hearings, a lot of committee hearings, sila mismo nakita nila mismo ang value ng paglagay nun sa budget namin as an amendment [they saw the value of including AKAP as an amendment to the DSWD budget],” Sec. Gatchalian pointed out.

Sec. Gatchalian cited an instance where the legislative body introduced a new program with budget appropriations in the GAA 2022 under the Social Protection Program for Adolescent Mothers and their Children (SPPAMC) special provision.

“This one was a program for women, protection of women with a Php10 million… Inintroduce [It was introduced by] ng legislature as an amendment because there is a need for social protection for women, and teenage mothers, then kami na lang gumawa ng guidelines [then we crafted a guidelines],” Sec. Gatchalian said.

The DSWD chief stressed: “There is nothing peculiar as long as we abide by the special provision… We have to make sure that whatever guidelines we do, eh nakakasunod sa [it adheres to the] parameter na nilagay nila [as identified by the legislators]”.

Sec. Gatchalian reiterated that the DSWD is determined to finalize the guidelines promptly to ensure that the rightful beneficiaries will already receive the government assistance.

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