Many are asking: When will the promised “inflation ayuda” by Bongbong Marcos (BBM) arrive?
The inflation ayuda is a PhP26.6 billion subsidy to be given to the vulnerable sectors that they may be able to cope up with the rising prices of food and other commodities. It should be noted that the Philippines has been suffering from high inflation rates starting in the last few months of President Rodrigo Duterte the highest of which was in December 2022 at 8.7%.. The subsidy will be given to around 9.3 million households classified as poorest of the poor.
While the subsidy is a welcome move, the policy itself is nurturing a culture of dependency to encourage citizens to rely heavily on the government for their basic needs. By doling out cash, BBM will appear like a hero of the poor. Unfortunately, the cash to be doled out is not, in any way, part of the mythical Tallano Gold but taxpayers’ money.
While these policies may be necessary to support the most vulnerable members of society, they can also create a cycle of dependency that makes it difficult for individuals to take responsibility for their own lives and become self-sufficient. In such cases, people may become reliant on these government programs even when they are no longer necessary, ultimately becoming a burden for the government and society.
Furthermore, leaders may discourage entrepreneurship and job creation, which could lead to a stagnant economy and fewer opportunities for citizens to be self-sufficient. This cycle can create a culture of dependency and hinder social and economic progress.
If the government is indeed serious in helping the poorest of the poor cope up with the increasing prices, the BBM Administration could come up with policies that promote productivity and self-reliance. One way to do that is to encourage food production through communal and household-based gardens. The Sangguniang Kabataan of San Roque in Northern Samar was able to do this through their COVEGE-20 Project. The same with the Cantongtong United Youth Association in Jiabong, Samar where a group of young people became productive and eventually turned into entrepreneurs. CUYA eventually became an awardee of several organizations including the Department of Agriculture. Why not showcase these to encourage people to plant? Note that a third of the expenses of a typical Filipino household is spent on food.
Second, if the government is keen on providing subsidies, it should focus the resources to the major inputs in production, particularly food production, transportation, and connectivity both internet and telephony. Investing in efficient and environment-friendly mass transportation could reduce the prices of goods, increase the take-home pays of the workers, and reduce fuel consumption. The latter is also good for the environment.
Lastly, the BBM administration should also implement policies and programs that encourage individuals to build skills, pursue education, and create businesses, ultimately leading to a culture of independence and self-reliance. The conditional cash transfer programs can be one of these. In the recent years, we have seen the improvement of Pantawid Pamilya household-beneficiaries whose children were able to finish basic education and started working.
Of course, corollary with these is behavioral change not only of the people benefitting from subsidies but also of those in government. Will BBM lead the practice of dismantling this culture of dependency?