Malacañang announced Thursday that a cash grant of P2,400 will be distributed to 10 million poor families in July as part of the government’s unconditional cash transfer program aimed at shielding them from higher taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Social Welfare and Development would start distributing the funds, amounting to P10 billion, made available under the TRAIN Law. Roque said the beneficiaries can withdraw their 2018 cash grants in full amounting to P2,400 starting in July through Land Bank automated teller machines nationwide and through its various conduits. But at P2,400 for each of the 10 million poor families, the funds required would reach P24 billion, more than double the P10 billion set aside under the law.
The Manila Standard tried to reach Roque for a clarification but he did not return its calls. In the briefing, Roque said the DSWD and the Department of Transportation have already put in place some measures to ease the effects of TRAIN, including the creation of new jobs through the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. The UCT cash grant is a top-up benefit for Pantawid beneficiaries who are also receiving their regular cash grant and a P600 rice subsidy from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The Palace official urged the public to consider TRAIN’s positive impact on addressing poverty and inequality instead of looking at the short-term increase in prices. “The TRAIN will not only provide higher take-home pay to wage earners but will also mean more jobs, better infrastructure, and more efficient delivery of services from massive investments in infrastructure and on people,” he said. “These investments would increase the productive capacity of the economy, thereby creating more and better jobs and result in high-quality education, better health services, and adequate social protection so that everyone, especially the poor, is accorded with equal economic opportunities towards prosperity,” Roque added. In response to rising prices, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Thursday asked the regional wage board to increase the minimum daily wage in Metro Manila from P512 to P832. They added that the petition is consistent with the House Bill 7805 filed by TUCP Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza, which proposes the same P320 increase in the minimum wages in all regions. “TUCP believes that a regional across-the-board wage increase of P320 is now needed in NCR because the existing P512 daily minimum wage is not enough for a household with at least five members to survive and to live a decent life,” Mendoza said in a statement. On the other hand, TUCP vice president Manuel Corral said the amount was based on the pronouncement of the government that a family of five needs at least P42,000 a month to live decently. He added that a family of five roughly needs P1,400 daily income to live decently. “The P832 per day wage is still a ‘survival wage’ in Metro Manila given the soaring costs of rice, fuels, sardines, school supplies, education, medical support, transportation and all other basic goods and services due to the implementation of the TRAIN Law, oil price increases, and dramatic peso depreciation,” the TUCP official said. With PNA