Many experts have already said that all signs point to the coronavirus pandemic extending well into 2021.
With this in mind, how much will the government allocate for social protection in 2021? Will we have enough government resources to shield the most vulnerable from the continued effects of the pandemic?
The answer to these questions will largely depend on the ongoing budget deliberations in Congress. The executive branch submitted the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 late in August.
Among others, the lawmakers will be tackling the P171.2 billion proposed funds for social protection – a figure that’s much lower than this year’s P366.5 billion budget allocation. The slash in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) can be attributed to the end of the unconditional cash transfer (UCT).
In 2020, the DSWD has been tasked to oversee the distribution of cash aid to those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In the first few months of the lockdown in the Philippines, however, the agency was heavily criticized over its failure to streamline and expedite the distribution of emergency subsidy for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. (READ: Lawmakers berate DSWD regional directors over delays in aid distribution)
Rappler’s civic engagement arm MovePH, in partnership with the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy (iLEAD), organized a series of #BudgetWatch webinars designed as the people’s budget hearings. The goal of the webinar is to engage the public in demanding lawmakers to craft a budget that fully supports the fight against the negative impact of the pandemic on the country. The #BudgetWatch webinar series is also in partnership with EveryWoman.
The first webinar of this series, scheduled on Thursday, September 24, at 3pm, tackled the funds for social protection allocated in the 2021 budget. It started with iLead’s analysis of the proposed 2021 budget for social protection.
iLead’s policy researcher Robert Sanders tackled budget analysis.
This was followed by a roundtable discussion with Anna Luna, who is with the national secretariat of the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid (SNPP); Aura Sevilla, a specialist on ageing and social protection; Tanya Quijano, a development worker who has been focused on improving the quality of life of those in the vulnerable sector; and Dr Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, Dean of the College of Social Work and Community Development at UP Diliman.
Rappler multimedia reporter Aika Rey moderated the panel discussion.
Inputs from this webinar will be consolidated into concrete budget items and action plans that iLead will submit to concerned legislators before the budget season ends this year. – Rappler.com