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Gov’t food stamp program to be pilot tested 2nd half of 2023 – DSWD

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In line with the Marcos’ administration program to alleviate hunger and poverty among families belonging to the lowest income bracket, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is set to pilot-test its food stamp program in the second half of the year, Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, the DSWD chief said they are now in the design stage of the program to properly fill in the gaps that may be overlooked during its implementation.

“Mayroon na tayong first draft ng design and we will spend the remaining months of May and June in the design stage. We all know that the devil will be in the details and we have hired multiple consultants in the department to take a second look at what’s being designed para may check and balance,” Gatchalian said.

“We are working with PSA’s [Philippine Statistics Authority] in-house poverty expert who is their Usec – Usec. Dennis Mapa – he is helping us craft the concept there. So, the remaining days of May and June, we will work on designing it. Now, July to December will be the pilot run to vet the (program) properly,” Gatchalian added.

With the help of the Marcos administration’s economic team, Gatchalian said they are trying to package the financing side of the food stamp program of the national government, hoping to launch the actual run in the first quarters of next year.

“But we have to point out that we will not also do it simultaneously (for the targeted) one million (families). That’s trouble waiting to happen. We have to do it in a progressive manner. We have to do the pilot at 3,000 families; 300,000 hopefully next year sa first run; another 300,000 right after and then hopefully reach the magic number of one million in the succeeding year,” the DSWD Secretary said.

He pointed out that throughout the program, the DSWD will continuously monitor and measure the beneficiaries in the regions that it has identified.

The DSWD has identified five pilot sites coming from different geopolitical characteristics – one in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), what used to be a former conflict area; one in geographically isolated regions or provinces; one in urban poor settings; one will be calamity-stricken areas; and one will be a rural poor area.

“We have to make sure that iyong konteksto ng programa will be designed na naaangkop sa bawat lugar,” Gatchalian said.

The food stamp program or the “Walang Gutom 2027” aims to provide electronic benefit transfers that will be loaded with food credits amounting to P3,000 to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD accredited local retailers.

The “Walang Gutom 2027” intends to target the bottom one million households from Listahanan 3 who belong to the food poor criteria as defined by the PSA.

“We believe that this program will properly address the gaps and assist its beneficiaries in attaining the recommended food and energy consumption needed for each member to perform their daily tasks and routines that has direct and indirect contribution to human capitalization and a direct positive impact towards nation-building. In other words, by meeting the daily food requirements of its target beneficiaries, the said program will sufficiently mitigate hunger caused by extreme poverty,” Gatchalian said.

The identified beneficiaries are families that do not make beyond P8,000 monthly based on PSA gauge, Gatchalian pointed out.

“It’s conditional… similar to other food stamp programs, there will be a work component. Ang argumento kasi ngayon ‘di ba, ‘pag gutom ang isang indibidwal, hindi siya maka-participate, hindi siya makatrabaho – kulang iyong caloric intake. So kung hindi siya makapagtrabaho, hindi siya produktibong mamamayan ng ating bansa,” he noted.

“Ang kondisyon nga doon is, when you’re signed up, you have to go to your nearest Public Employment Service Office (PESO), get a certification that you are now partaking—being counted as part of the workforce no matter what job it is,” he added.

Gatchalian also thanked the Asian Development Bank for providing close to U$3 million for the six-month pilot run of the food program. (PND)

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