By Zaldy De Layola

TIMELY ASSISTANCE. Sacks of rice for identified beneficiaries are piled up for distribution in Laguna province on Sunday (Nov. 5, 2023). The Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) program spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development simultaneously kicked off in Metro Manila’s 33 legislative districts and two cities in the province. (Photo courtesy of Laguna-PIO Facebook)

MANILA – The House of Representatives and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Sunday led the launch of a cash and rice assistance program where more than 300,000 initial beneficiaries are expected to receive the aid.

The Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) program simultaneously kicked off in Metro Manila’s 33 legislative districts and two cities in Laguna province, led by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian.

The program is in response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s challenge to create a program that will aid the poor and most vulnerable members of society.

Makasaysayan po ang araw na ito, hindi lamang dito sa Laguna kundi maging sa buong Metro Manila. Ngayong umaga, pormal nating sisimulan ang pinakabagong programa ng ating pamahalaan, ang (This is a historic day, not only here in Laguna but also in the entire Metro Manila. This [Sunday] morning, we will formally begin the newest program of the government, the) Cash Assistance and Rice Distribution or the CARD program,” Romualdez said as he introduced the program in the City of Biñan, Laguna province coinciding with the launch of the Bagong Pilipinas Serbisyo Fair (BPSF) that brings government services to communities.

The aid will be distributed in four payouts. Each recipient will receive at least PHP2,000 cash and a 25-kilogram sack of rice.

Meanwhile, around 3,000 beneficiaries in Biñan and 2,000 from the City of Santa Rosa will get the same benefits.

The DSWD is tasked to identify the beneficiaries and may increase the amount of assistance in some areas depending on its evaluation of prevailing circumstances.

Romualdez said the program, which will go beyond Metro Manila and Laguna, was conceived amid the escalating rice prices and other challenges faced by Filipino consumers, empowering them to gain access to rice at better prices and augment their buying capacity. (PNA)