MALACAÑANG declared the food stamp program as the flagship of the Marcos administration after issuing Executive Order (EO) No. 44, which also named the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) the lead implementing agency.
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, who signed the EO on Oct 12, said DSWD is “the primary government entity responsible for the implementation and management of social welfare development programs in the country.”
“The DSWD shall undertake the necessary steps for the successful implementation and expansion of the Food Stamp Program including, but not limited to, the identification of eligible beneficiaries and collaboration with relevant stakeholders to ensure efficient and timely distribution and use of food stamps,” the EO read.
DSWD will collaborate with local government units (LGUs), national government agencies, and concerned stakeholders for the successful execution of the program.
Meanwhile, government agencies and LGU must give full support and cooperation by submitting regular reports to the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the program’s status in their respective areas.
The department is given 30 working days within the EO’s effectivity to create implementing rules and regulations relevant to the order.
The food stamp program was simultaneously pilot-tested in different areas in the country, including the National Capital Region (NCR), Cagayan Valley Region, Bicol Region, Caraga Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) last July 18, where 3,000 family beneficiaries receive Electronic Benefit Transfer cards with P3,000 food credits, which can be used to purchase food at DSWD-accredited retail groceries.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte led the pilot launch at the Don Bosco Youth Center in Tondo, Manila, distributing EBT to the first 50 beneficiaries.
The Asian Development Bank earmarked P3 million for the pilot phase, which will run from July 2023 to March 2024.
While the program is set to assist food-poor families identified, the DSWD previously said beneficiaries are required to seek employment and be involved in labor capacity-building to avoid overreliance. The beneficiaries can continue to benefit from the stamp program unless they are out of the poverty line.
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