FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday urged government agencies to make it easier for people to access their financial aid programs amid surging inflation, suggesting that departments use mobile apps to make their processes more efficient.
“Dapat may app na rin yan, may DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) app, may DOH (Department of Health) app, merong Transport Help app, na kapag kumpleto naman ang requirements mo, i-send mo lang and then through GCash or through a QR code sa phone mo e matatanggap mo na e,” Cayetano said in a media interview.
“Why do we have to make it difficult for people to get help eh pera naman nila ‘yan,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano pointed out that the government has billions of pesos in funds ready for distribution to vulnerable sectors through the DOH, DSWD, and Department of Transportation (DOTr) as part of the P5-trillion national budget for 2022.
However, the much-needed assistance is delayed by government red tape, fixers positioned in frontline government agencies, and local politicians who act as mediators between national financial aid programs and their respective constituencies.
“Kung wala ka ngang padrino or walang pulitiko na mag-aayos, hindi mo makukuha eh,” Cayetano lamented.
According to the lawmaker, the government’s current situation reverses its previous experiences when a lack of funds rendered it incapable of providing aid to vulnerable segments of the population.
“Mas maliit ang problema natin ngayon in the sense na dati kasi, walang pera eh. Kahit madali yung sistema, kung wala namang pera, wala ka talagang makukuha,” Cayetano said.
“Ngayon it’s the reverse. Nandiyan yung pera, pero medyo tedious, medyo mahirap yung proseso. That’s one thing I really want to work on, paano padadaliin ito,” he added.
Cayetano suggested one way to leverage technology is by developing mobile apps that people can use to process government transactions and receive financial aid through fintech services like GCash or PayMaya.
“With the digital age and with the cellphone, dapat you could do almost everything when it comes to government transactions sa cellphone mo,” he said.
Cayetano also discussed the possibility of continuing at least two financial aid programs that he initiated in past years to help Filipinos grapple with the effects of recent record inflation triggered by high fuel prices.
He said his “Presyo, Trabaho, Kita” (PTK) program, which provided seed capital for small cooperatives across the country, was successful in weaning financially vulnerable transport workers and vendors’ associations from predatory loan providers, known locally as “five-six” for their steep interest rates.
However, as the pandemic hit the country, Cayetano and his partners in the private sector had to pivot to smaller-scale and wider-impact financial aid initiatives such as “Sampung Libong Pag-asa and Sari-saring Pag-asa”.
“We’ll continue to do that in the private sector, and together with our partners in public service. But napaka-importante kasi na ang gobyerno merong gano’ng programa,” he said.