FDC backs ‘universal transformative social protection’ to hasten recovery


Repealing the automatic appropriation law,  cancelation of “illegitimate” debts, and taxing the wealthy will help most Filipinos recover from the pandemic, according to the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).

These steps, if implemented, will create more available public resources that will allow the government to provide greater social protection needed by millions of Filipinos to cope with the pandemic.

Multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, said the pandemic is causing severe inequality in many parts of the world, including Asian countries like the Philippines.

“Mahalagang unahin ng bayan o ng next government ang survival ng mga mamamayan through universal transformative social protection. Ang proposal ko po social protection for all, jobs for all. Pwede naman i-combine ’yun,” FDC President Rene Ofreneo said in a webinar on Tuesday.

“Ano ang ibig sabihin ng social protection for all? Walang dapat mabubuwal sa dilim tapos ’yung health, etc. nariyan. ’Yung jobs for all, tungkulin po ng gubyerno ang mag-create ng jobs. Now’yung sa process na pag-create ng jobs, hindi naman dali-dali kaagad ’yun, pwede namang ’yung conditional cash transfer i-expand,” he added.

Ofreneo said the resources that may be freed up by policies such as repealing the automatic appropriation law, canceling illegitimate debts, and taxing the wealthy will allow the government to provide a higher cash transfer.

He said he estimates that a universal transformative social protection would require the government to provide the 7 million jobless Filipinos with a minimum wage level of assistance while they are looking for work.

This level of assistance has a price tag of around P1.3 trillion, which, Ofreneo said, is the same budget allocated to the country’s debt service payments in 2022.

The cash transfers will not be unconditional, Ofreneo said. This will be payment for these workers’ efforts to take part in the Covid-19 proofing and in climate change-related efforts at the local level.

Apart from the cash transfers, the government, he said, should provide workers with training as well as reskilling and retooling courses that would improve their chances in a very competitive job market.

“We don’t want na ang tao tatanggap ng pera na walang ginagawa sapagkat ang issue dito ay dignidad ng bawat isa. Now, is this sustainable in the long-run? It is because social protection for all and jobs for all are countercyclical. From this we can transform communities at doon magsisimula ang pagbangon,” Ofreneo said.

Image courtesy of Bernard Testa

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