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AKAP funds not redirected to Charter change signature drive — Co

Ako-Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co
Maricel Cruz

A lawmaker on Wednesday rejected claims that the assistance intended for near-poor, low-income families – the Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita (AKAP) Program – was redirected to fund a Charter change signature drive.

Ako-Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, chairperson of the House appropriations committee, accused Senator Imee Marcos of “maligning the pure intentions” of AKAP that would benefit construction workers, factory workers, ride-hailing app drivers, and food service crew, among others.

“It’s now up to the people to judge her for politicizing a program to help the poor,” Co said.

Announced in November last year, the AKAP Program was designed to provide a one-time P5,000 cash assistance to Filipino families affected by the global inflation and the surge in commodity prices, Co said.

Outlined in the 2024 budget, the program has an earmarked fund of P50 billion for direct support to families earning less than P23,000 monthly, ensuring that those not covered by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) due to their income bracket will receive necessary aid.

Senator Marcos earlier questioned the P26.7 billion AKAP funds lodged in the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

But Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. reminded the senators that they approved the 2024 budget that includes funding for AKAP.

“AKAP is part of the 2024 national budget. The Senate gave its stamp of approval on AKAP when it passed the then proposed P5.768-trillion outlay for this year in plenary last Nov. 28,” Gonzales said.

“It would be absurd now for senators to be questioning the AKAP and other assistance funds included in the national budget and administered by the DSWD because they approved it,” Gonzales said.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said “not a single centavo” of AKAP funds has been spent by the department as it was “still crafting the guidelines to ensure the program’s smooth and efficient fulfillment of the agency’s mandate.”

“The GAA (General Appropriations Act) enjoys presumption of regularity because it went through tough scrutiny of the legislative branch. We will be remiss in our duties if we do not implement what is in the budget,” Gatchalian added.

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