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Palace to give gifts to poor

POOR families in 10 of the country’s poorest provinces and in selected areas in Metro Manila stand to receive free rice and other goodies from the government as part of its gift to the less fortunate this Christmas season, Deputy Press Secretary Lorelei Fajardo said yesterday.

Fajardo said the government will also give additional packages for the poor in terms of job training scholarships, as well as cheaper medicines and affordable household items in regular programs already in place.

While the “Pamaskong Handog” (Christmas Gift) package would only be a one-shot affair, Fajardo said other government anti-poverty programs will continue even after the Christmas season.

The areas covered by the Pamaskong Handog program include Masbate, Camarines Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Lano del Norte, Maguindanao, Kalinga and Abra, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, Marinduque, Romblon, Mindoro, Saranggani, Antique, Palawan, Davao Oriental and Bukidnon.

“The Pamaskong Handog of our President will start on Dec. 13, and our target areas are the top poorest provinces, including [select areas in] Metro Manila,” she said. The program will be implemented until Jan. 7, as discussed in a meeting of the National Anti-Poverty Commission in Malacañang yesterday.

She said the package will include 2 kilos of rice per family, as well as some goodies, including noodles or some other grocery items, with a value not less than P100 per beneficiary.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be in Samar and Cebu tomorrow for the kick-off of the Pamaskong Handog program, according to Fajardo.

She said the program will target at least 600,000 families all over the country.

She said the program also includes the distribution of certificates for scholarship training under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s “Mekaniko Ako” (I Am a Mechanic) and “Masahista” (I am a Masseur) programs.

In addition, she said the government will distribute from among the beneficiaries at least 4,000 certificates for “Tindahan Natin” that provides poor consumers with affordable household items, and put up additional “Botika Ng Bayan” outlets to allow the poor access to affordable medicine.

“There would also be medical and dental missions for select areas,” Fajardo said. “Some of these programs would continue after the Christmas season, like the Tesda training programs.”

She said the President has also instructed the concerned agencies to continue with the program to provide electricity and potable water for the poorest barangays in the country that does not enjoy such basic necessities.



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