By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
THIS is not another word from a friend who uses “foots” as the plural form of foot, or his extension of its context when a lot of people march on their “feets”. Goods is not a new word, it is an old word with a new context. It is a word that evolved from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the Philippine government, where cash is allocated for distribution, but the institutions charged to distribute them converts the cash to goods.
The logic according to the proponents of this diversion is to ensure that the cash is spent by the poor on their “basic food, medicines and toiletries”, as provided under Article V, paragraph C defining the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP). This is not only an insult to the judgment of the poor, but an attack on their rights. One presupposes that any cash given to those in need will spend it on their own priorities, whether these are spent for the purpose laid down by the implementing guidelines or something else they have decided as a priority for the family. It is provided by law that they can use the money for toiletries (articles used in washing and taking care of one’s body, such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste), but would the buying of toiletries supersede the buying of other things to ensure the safety of their homes under the prevailing conditions of a lockdown?
Rappler reports that, “Unlike in 2020, eligible Filipinos will get a measly P1,000 worth of cash or goods each, while families can receive a maximum of P4,000 – or only up to four individuals receiving the P1,000 each. In 2020, low-income families received P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the prevailing minimum wage in the area.” If that is how measly the sum is, that should just be given in cash. Giving institutions assigned to distribute a choice between cash or goods opens the process to corruption. The amount earmarked for “supplemental aid” is P22.9M, a pittance compared to the 2020 allocation, and will be distributed in the following areas:
- Metro Manila – 11.2 million individuals
- Bulacan – 3 million individuals
- Rizal – 2.6 million individuals
- Laguna – 2.7 million individuals
- Cavite – 3.4 million individuals
If the cash is converted into goods, the value of the items would be much less, considering the cost it entails to buy, repack and distribute in households, and the cost of the rebates imputed in the calculations of goods sold. This discombobulates and renders inefficient the distribution system.
While the poor desperately need good and well-meaning public servants, let the system install safeguards to prevent Goods Samaritans, proponents of conversion from cash to goods, from succumbing to temptation and becoming instruments to the malfunction of an already malfunctioning bureaucracy.
sleight of logic
transforms like magic
a thousand, to ten
low-cost fish cans
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