House committee seeks increased UCT grants for 22 million poor Filipinos

House Bill No. 184 seeks to establish and sustain an accelerated program management scheme that focuses on payroll generation, beneficiary validation, and the release of more funds to the beneficiaries of the UCT program.

The House Committee on Poverty Alleviation held a hearing to tackle a bill which aims to reduce poverty and implement welfare programs for 22 million poor Filipino families in order to provide stability and security in their livelihoods. 

House Bill No. 184 or an Act Mandating the National Government to increase the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program was introduced by 1-PACMAN Party-List Representative Michael L. Romero.

According to Romero, the bill seeks to establish and sustain an accelerated program management scheme that focuses on payroll generation, beneficiary validation, and the release of more funds to the beneficiaries of the UCT program.

The P500 monthly financial assistance granted by the government in 2018 is set to increase to P500 this year. The cash grants under the UCT program are given to poor households who may not benefit from the tax cuts provided by TRAIN but may be affected by rising prices.

The UCT Program is a social development strategy which provides unconditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition, and education. Unconditional cash transfers also enable its recipients to have autonomy over their own finances to improve their livelihoods.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is in charge of distributing the UCT grants to families who belong to the poorest socio-economic brackets and often cannot afford basic necessities for their families.

The pool of UCT beneficiaries is composed of households in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps),beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program under the Senior Citizens Act, and other poor households as identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-TR), also known as Listahanan.

In 2019, DSWD Assistant Secretary for Policy and Plans Noel Macalalad revealed that the DSWD would offer “cash cards” instead of manual payment on cash grants to eliminate the need to put up face-to-face payouts.

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