‘Imee budget realigning led to millions not receiving 4Ps’

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
�Imee budget realigning led to millions not receiving 4Ps�
Residents of Batasan in Quezon City receive cash aid at Quezon City Polytechnic Univesity from the government's social amelioration package.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly 4.3 million poor Filipinos were deprived of cash aid under the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2023 after Sen. Imee Marcos realigned the 4Ps funding of P13 billion in the national budget to another social amelioration program, a member of the House of Representatives said yesterday.

Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon of Ako Bicol party-list said almost 900,000 households among the “poorest of the poor” did not receive cash grants last year.

Bongalon said the P13-billion budget cut at the behest of Marcos deprived 4Ps beneficiaries of cash aid as the funding intended for them was diverted to the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program.

“If we do the math, P13 billion divided by P15,000 per household per year means 867,000 families or 4.3 million poor Filipinos without cash assistance under the 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development last year,” Bongalon said in a statement.

Bongalon, an advocate of the 4Ps program which provides conditional cash grants to poor families to improve the health, nutrition and education of children aged 0-18, described the budget realignment as “cruel and unconscionable.”

He said he looked into the budget cut after his office received complaints from 4Ps beneficiaries.

Bongalon said the beneficiaries criticized the delays in aid distribution while others complained of not receiving cash grants last year.

“It was Senator Marcos, as head of the Senate finance sub-committee in charge of the DSWD’s budget, who slashed P13 billion from the 4Ps budget,” Bongalon, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.

By tinkering with the 4Ps budget, Bongalon said the reallocation allowed Marcos and her political allies, including Vice President Sara Duterte, to distribute aid to their chosen beneficiaries instead of the real intended recipients of the 4Ps program.

The Bicolano lawmaker said the P13-billion budget realignment is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

“I understand that Senator Marcos has been realigning portions of the 4Ps budget since 2021. But we’re still compiling the data,” he said.

“She takes issue with the Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita Program, which will provide cash grants to the poor. It’s ironic that she even wants a Senate inquiry into AKAP when she should be the one investigated for depriving poor Filipinos of P13 billion last year,” Bongalon added.

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