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No indiscriminate delisting of 4Ps beneficiaries – Tulfo

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
No indiscriminate delisting of 4Ps beneficiaries â Tulfo
A resident in Barangay 342, Manila receive their cash aid on August 18, 2021.
Philstar.com / Irish Lising

MANILA, Philippines — Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo has given assurance that the poorest families now receiving conditional cash grants as beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) would not be taken out of the program, even as he announced that the department is undergoing a thorough evaluation and cleansing of the 4Ps roll of beneficiaries.

In his address before DSWD employees during their flag-raising ceremony yesterday, Tulfo said he wanted to give caution on the removal of poor families that may still need the government conditional dole-out.

“I don’t want to remove people if they or their families still cannot stand on their own feet,” he said in Filipino. “I know we’ll make some mistakes, but we have to fix and straighten errors here. There are errors, I have seen errors.”

The DSWD chief disclosed that in his own review of some beneficiaries in the Listahanan 2 database who had been evaluated and declared as “graduates” of the program, progressing into a “non-poor” family, he deemed some as “still very poor.”

“I know, though, that many are still waiting to be admitted into the program. We’re talking about millions,” he added, as he emphasized that it is their responsibility as DSWD officials to make sure that those who will be removed from the database can already stand on their own feet.

Last week, the DSWD unveiled the results of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction, more popularly known as the Listahanan survey, which placed the number of the country’s so-called poorest of the poor families at 5.59 million.

Tulfo earlier said the database of the country’s poorest families generated by the Listahanan 3 survey would have to undergo a review with regard to the 4Ps list.

The DSWD also earlier confirmed that the database would be the list from which its 4Ps program office would get replacements for the total 1.9 million beneficiaries to be delisted from the program.

Of the figure, 1.3 million have graduated out of the program from being a “very poor” family to a “non-poor” family, while the remaining 600,000 have violations on 4Ps conditions such as changing or moving from their declared addresses.

Tulfo, however, stressed that his agency would follow due process in delisting “graduates” and enrolling the replacement families.

The DSWD-National Household Targeting Office said the survey had identified 5,599,091 poorest families in the country as of Dec. 31 last year.

Of the figure, 1,232,985 families live in urban areas while 4,018,209 families live in rural areas.

A breakdown of the regional share of the country’s poorest families showed that the Bicol region has the highest number of poorest families with 541,137, followed by Western Visayas with 536,829 and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with 509,335 families.

The Listahanan survey also found that the BARMM, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Western Visayas have the highest number of poorest families with no sources of potable water.

The BARMM, MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) and Central Visayas have the highest number of poorest families with no access to toilet facilities and no access to electricity.

Probe on delisting

Citing the rise in poverty incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawmaker has asked the House of Representatives to investigate the DSWD on its plan to delist some 1.3 million from the 4Ps.

In a privilege speech, Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza questioned the procedures used by the DSWD in determining that 1.3 million family-beneficiaries should be dropped from the program as they have graduated from utter poverty.

These 1.3 million families comprised 30 percent of the 4.2 million active households under the 4Ps.

“It’s almost impossible that there are 30 percent of 4Ps families who are now beyond poverty, especially with the recent statistics that poverty incidence in the Philippines rose by 2.6 percent during pandemic. So mathematically, it does not make sense how this number came about,” Daza said.

He also recalled that when Congress passed the law creating the 4Ps, two procedures in delisting families from the program were put in place: assessment and social case management for each of the graduating families.

“So I think it is highly unlikely DSWD can say that they will delist 1.3 million because we just can’t do 1.3 million families that fast when I think in the last two to three years, we’ve only delisted, for various reasons, maybe a few hundred thousands,” he said.

The lawmaker underscored that the DSWD’s move is very concerning and is “something that the (House) leadership should take a look into.”

He likewise said the delisting is contrary to the pronouncement of President Marcos in his first State of the Nation Address that the administration’s target is to bring down poverty to nine percent.

“The policy should be reversed. We should be adding more families rather than making a general statement that we will delist 1.3 million,” Daza added.

He called for the reconstitution of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee with the Senate to take a closer look at what data the DSWD based its planned delisting on.

P4.1 billion special aid

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has welcomed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s approval of the release of P4.1 billion in special aid to poor families affected by the continuing high inflation.

In a statement, CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia said the DBM’s approval of the release of P4.1 billion in special aid to help the disadvantaged sectors was timely, given that the inflation rate has accelerated to 6.4 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June due to the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coupled with strong consumer demand for oil and energy.

“This is the highest inflation rate in three years. Consequently, many families and individuals struggle to meet their basic needs due to the escalating prices of basic goods and services,” she said.

She added that the DBM-approved Special Allotment Release Order to the DSWD is expected to benefit over four million beneficiaries of the Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program.

Under the TCT program, each beneficiary identified by the DSWD will receive P500 per month for two months. – Sheila Crisostomo, Elizabeth Marcelo

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