THE monthly household subsidy for poor families will increase from P200 to P500 and is set for distribution by May, a senior legislator said on Thursday.

“The low-income household subsidy is definitely pushing through. I think the Executive has already found some funding sources in the form of unused cash balances,” House Ways and Means Chairperson and Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said in a statement.

“President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte also followed up with an instruction to increase the monthly subsidy from P200 to P500. I am quite positive that we will start distributing those subsidies before the elections.”

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will oversee the household subsidy, he said, noting that he “explicitly requested for an exemption of all DSWD aid transactions from the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) election spending ban.”

The fuel subsidy to be distributed to drivers under the Pantawid Pasada Program will also continue, to head off any fare increases and second-round effects from oil prices, he added. 

“That said, we will continue to follow up with implementing agencies when there are delays in the implementation,” Mr. Salceda said. 

“My reservation with targeted programs such as these has always been that they take a while to fully implement, compared with outright exemptions or universal cash transfers. But, as this is the direction the executive has decided to take, we will provide policy support or appropriations support as needed.”

Separately, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento, who chairs the House Committee on Transportation, welcomed the poll body’s decision to lift the ban on distributing the fuel subsidy.

“We are very happy that the Comelec has finally given the go signal for the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) to resume the distribution of the fuel subsidy,” Mr. Sarmiento said in a statement.

“This is definitely not enough to ease the burden of our drivers and operators because the cost of fuel remains very prohibitive but at least, this fuel subsidy is a reminder that the government is doing everything to help them.” — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan