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AKAP program designed as safety net for ‘near poor’ minimum wage earners

The Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP) was designed for those classified in the “near poor” segment in order to prevent their spiraling down below the poverty line, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Wednesday (February 14).

The DSWD chief said this “near poor” segment include minimum wage earners who are vulnerable to economic shocks such as a runaway inflation that can easily send them back to poverty.

Households which have already exited from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are also part of the “near poor” category which need a safety net like the AKAP program to prevent them from slipping below the poverty line.

“This segment in our society feels excluded from our DSWD programs. An economic shock such as a runaway inflation can easily send the ‘near poor’ back to poverty,” Secretary Gatchalian pointed out.

Secretary Gatchalian said that when the General Appropriations Act of 2024 put in a program such as AKAP, it was a welcome news to the DSWD “because we were already contemplating on such program”

Secretary Gatchalian recalled that sometime during the 3rd quarter of 2023, DSWD officials had a meeting with national statistician Undersecretary Claire Dennis Mapa, chair of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) secretariat and a known poverty expert.

“We were already exploring programs that will provide a safety net for those classified as ‘near poor.’ Usec. Mapa briefed us on the value of a ‘near poor’ program so as to prevent a vicious cycle of minimum wage earners and 4Ps graduates going back to poverty,” the DSWD chief explained.

Secretary Gatchalian added: “Sayang if they slip back into poverty because we have made investments to pull them out of poverty like 4Ps. Years of human capital investment will go to waste if they fall back and start all over again.”

The DSWD chief maintained that the Legislative branch has the power of the purse and “we respect their wisdom in crafting the national budget.”

“The GAA enjoys presumption of regularity because it went through tough scrutiny of the legislative branch. We will be remiss in our duties if we do not implement what is in the budget,” Secretary Gatchalian emphasized.

Secretary Gatchalian further stressed that not a single centavo of the AKAP budget as provided in the 2024 GAA has been spent as the DSWD is still crafting the guidelines to ensure the program’s smooth and efficient fulfillment of the agency’s mandate.

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