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Senate to conduct audit on 4Ps

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Senate to conduct audit on 4Ps
Spearheading the probe are Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan, who sought a comprehensive review of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under which over P500 billion has been disbursed since it started in 2008.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Senate will conduct an investigation into the disbursement of billions of pesos under the government’s 11-year-old conditional cash transfer program amid reports of misuse by some politicians seeking to boost their candidacies in the May elections.

Spearheading the probe are Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan, who sought a comprehensive review of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under which over P500 billion has been disbursed since it started in 2008. 

Sotto backed the directive of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año banning politicians from taking part in the distribution of cash to poor families under the 4Ps “to avoid politicizing government payouts.” 

“An inquiry is in order to rationalize its (4Ps) operation,” Sotto told reporters. “We want to find out how the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) is being spent on cash outs.” 

Sotto gave credence to reports from Año and the DSWD that some local officials are trying to hijack the distribution of cash subsidies apparently to support their political ambitions.

Last February, the Senate approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to institutionalize the 4Ps as a mainstay of the government’s poverty reduction initiatives.

Lacson said he, Sotto and Honasan have recently discussed the reported misuse of the 4Ps and the coming inquiry will tackle its accomplishments “in accordance with its defined objective, the accounting of the monies so far disbursed and other relevant issues surrounding the program.”

Lacson noted that since the program started during the Arroyo administration, its allocation in the national budget has increased many times over.

“It’s time to conduct a performance audit or review of the Pantawid program to find out what it has achieved so far,” Lacson said.

As of January this year, there are about 4.4 million 4Ps beneficiaries. Each household beneficiary received a cash assistance of P200 monthly or a total of P2,400 per year in 2018. This year and in 2020, cash assistance under the unconditional cash transfer program will be increased to P300 per month or a total of P3,600.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, the first in the chamber to file a bill giving 4Ps a charter in 2013, last February said the measure includes provision that “shield it from epal politics, prioritize farmers and fishermen, reward work equity, link it to livelihood programs.”

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

He said P91.2 billion of the total 4Ps funding were in foreign loans which will only be fully paid in 2040.

PANTAWID PAMILYANG PILIPINO PROGRAM (4PS)

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