“It is the administration’s fervent hope that this budget will continue to lay the groundwork for future-proofing the economy and making the country’s growth inclusive and sustainable, not just for the Filipinos of today, but also for the future generations,” said Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman. The Marcos administration is impeding livelihood programs under the proposed P5.768 trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) in 2024.
P2.28B was allocated for the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) — a grant assistance on livelihood for disadvantaged workers, either individuals or groups — in the proposed 2024 national budget. Further, DOLE’s Livelihood and Employment Program was allocated P16.4 billion in the proposed budget for next year, including P12.9 billion earmarked for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program.
An additional P406.88 million was set aside for DOLE’s Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), a program that serves as a safety net to support projects and programs that generate employment, preserve livelihoods, and address the needs of Filipino workers.
P5.62 billion was budgeted for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program to enhance the capabilities of poor Filipinos’ access to income-generating opportunities and help improve their socio-economic lives. P549 million was allocated to the DSWD’s PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program’s implementation and monitoring to improve community access to socio-economic interventions.
Department of Agriculture’s (DA) livelihood initiatives received P1.35 billion for the Aquaculture Sub-Program aimed “to improve the country’s technology for breeding and larval rearing of fish and ensure the production of high-quality products.” The DA’s Special Area of Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program Phase 2 was allocated P1.094 billion. The program aims to reduce poverty by providing agricultural and fishery interventions to the poor farming and fishing sectors.
Another P210.9 million was dedicated to the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Major Crop-based Block Farm Productivity Enhancement Program, which seeks to optimize the efficiency, productivity, and profitability of farms owned by Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs).
All these livelihood programs total about P32B.
Given how livelihood projects could require as little as P50,000 for a cluster of about five families, one might believe that up to 600,000 families or around 3,000,000 people could benefit. Based on the latest unemployment data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, 2.37M unemployed Filipinos are as of January 2023.
These are line budget items in the 2024 Philippine National Budget of P5.768, which implies that these earmarks will be recurring and sustained. Then how is it not possible to erase unemployment in the Philippines altogether? The devil is in the details, which is harder to extrapolate. However, mathematical wizardry is optional to conclude that something needs to be corrected.
The next question arises. If P32B in livelihood funding is good, why not P320B? Enable the farmer to own more of the agricultural supply chain – post-harvest facilities, mechanization, storage, packaging, and delivery direct to their customers. Enable the fisherfolk to own and operate commercial fishing vessels that rival those of other countries, including ice storage and onboard processing of their catch, ultimately land-based logistical operations. It must become a national aspiration to eventually allocate at least 10% of all government budgets towards livelihood, from national to city and municipal budgets.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management programs have been allocated 10% of budgets for resilience and emergency response. It is time to view food resilience, security, and independence as a priority. In the process, create jobs. Eventually, the Philippines must return to being a net exporter of food.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Crispin Fernandez advocates for overseas Filipinos, public health, transformative political change, and patriotic economics. He is also a community organizer, leader, and freelance writer.