The Department of Budget and Management on Wednesday said there was no item in the proposed P5.02 trillion national budget for 2022 specifically providing for ayuda or cash aid in case the COVID-19 pandemic will force another round of lockdowns next year.
"We don't have any specific item in the budget that provides that potential claim against the budget," Usec. Tina Rose Marie Canda, DBM officer in charge, told senators when asked if there was an allocation under the 2022 budget for COVID-19 cash aid.
According to Canda, the government's current budgeting system discourages lump sum funds to be included in the budget.
She added that the budget for cash assistance distributed for eligible beneficiaries this year was only sourced from savings and unprogrammed funds.
"That's the reason why we don't have any amount provided for ayuda and lockdowns because we cannot foresee how much will be required," Canda said.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, suggested sourcing the funds for cash aid from the contingent fund. These are funds used to cover specific expenses that have not yet been identified by government agencies during the budget preparation.
"Pwede naman but then we will be increasing the contingent fund and then we will have to defend it in case that happens," Canda told Angara.
The government earlier provided a P1,000 aid with a limit of P4,000 per family in areas placed under enhanced community quarantine last August.
President Rodrigo Duterte also approved additional funding of P3.783 billion for the government's cash aid program to cover areas outside of Metro Manila that were also placed under ECQ.