Senate OKs bill institutionalizing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program
The measure was sponsored and authored by detained Sen. Leila de Lima, chair of the committee on social justice, welfare and development.
KJ Rosales
Senate OKs bill institutionalizing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to institutionalize the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps) as a mainstay of the government’s poverty reduction initiatives.

The measure was sponsored and authored by detained Sen. Leila de Lima, chair of the committee on social justice, welfare and development.

“Cutting the cycle of poverty of and giving the poor the ability to improve their lives through the 4Ps program will enable them to contribute to the development of our country,” De Lima said in her speech read on her behalf by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, vice chairman of the committee. 

Trillanes, in a separate statement, said the measure aims to help the poor to be self-sufficient through sustained income and livelihood opportunities.

“The 4Ps Act can be a transformative program that will improve the lives of not only 4.4 million beneficiaries across the country it currently serves, but the remaining fraction of poor families we wish to be covered in the coming years,” Trillanes said.

Considered as a national poverty reduction strategy and a human capital investment program, the 4Ps provides conditional cash transfer (CCT) to poor households for a maximum of seven years to improve their health, nutrition and access to education.

Under the measure, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will conduct and revalidate qualified beneficiaries using a standard targeting system every three years.

Considered eligible for the program are those living in the informal sector, homeless families, indigenous peoples, and those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

All beneficiaries will also be automatically covered under the National Health Insurance Program.

In addition, qualified beneficiaries may avail themselves of the livelihood programs offered by the DSWD, the Department of Labor and Employment and other government agencies or accredited private institutions.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, the first in the chamber to file a bill giving the program a charter in 2013, said the measure includes provisions that “shield it from epal politics, prioritize farmers and fishermen, reward work equity and link it to livelihood programs.”

“This is not merely extending the program, but tweaking it so that targets are met and wasteful spendings avoided,” Recto said.

Government spending for 4Ps from 2007-2019 is P564 billion, or more than half a trillion pesos, P91.2 billion of which were in foreign loans, which will be fully paid in 2040, he added.

From 2007, when it was launched with a P50 million budget, the 4Ps annual spending has surged “176,213 percent” with this year’s proposed allocation at P88 billion, dwarfing the budget of agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry at P5 billion, and Department of Tourism at P3.3 billion.

“With this amount, we should make sure that the real poor are helped and the targets of the program met,” Recto said, citing a Commission on Audit report that showed 1.3 million covered households were “non-poor” and a World Bank finding of a 35 percent leakage rate.

Recto said the measure carries his amendment prioritizing the farmers and fishermen in 4Ps enrollment.

“Most of the 23.7 million poor are in this sector. The poverty incidence among farmers is 34.3 percent, while it is 34 percent for fishermen. These are higher than the latest poverty incidence figure of 21.6 percent,” he said, adding that farmers at least would have sweat equity in receiving cash grants. 

Recto said the CCT must have a charter so it can continue despite scheduled changes in the national leadership.

“We are witness to how good programs in the past were jettisoned when the new order came along. What we can’t predict is that those who are swept to power will not immediately sweep away good programs,” he said.

“In the case of the CCT, two tendencies must be avoided. The first is to emasculate it that it becomes ineffective. The other is to expand it tremendously that it becomes financially unsustainable,” he added.

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