House leaders: Don’t cut 4Ps budget

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
House leaders: Don�t cut 4Ps budget
Individuals line up to receive cash aid from the national government during enhanced community quarantine at a basketball court in Manila on August 11, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe, File

MANILA, Philippines — Three leaders of the House of Representatives have appealed to Sen. Imee Marcos to break her supposed habit of realigning government funds allocated for the poorest of the poor.

Deputy Speaker David Suarez and Deputy Majority Leader Jude Acidre of party-list Tingog said yesterday Marcos’ realignment in 2023 of the P13-billion allotment for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) deprived nearly 900,000 families, or 4.3 million Filipinos, of aid.

Assistant Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. JC Abalos II appealed to Marcos not to cut the budget of the 4Ps program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) again.

“Let’s not forget that 4Ps is a law. It’s not just a regular program, it’s not just a project that comes and goes. It’s a law. It has specific beneficiaries. It has specific objectives and therefore the funding has to be secured to support the intent of the program,” Suarez stressed.

The congressman from Quezon province’s second district said the presidential sister “should explain” her “budget realignment habit,” especially since she admitted slashing billions under the 2023 General Appropriations Act.

“Firstly, I think the question is – and because she admitted slashing the 4Ps funds – how many millions of Filipinos have been affected with the funds that have been diverted?” he asked. “The bigger question is, apparently, this realignment habit is not limited to fiscal year 2023.”

In a statement, Marcos admitted recommending some P8 billion in 4Ps funding be realigned to other DSWD programs such as the supplemental feeding, KALAHI-CIDSS, Quick Response Fund for disasters and AICS during deliberations on the 2023 national budget in 2022.

“The P5-billion AICS reduction occurred after I had recommended the amount in the Senate version, but the bicameral removed it for lack of fiscal space post-COVID. Those two amounts – P8 billion plus P5 billion – are perhaps what some befuddled members are referring to,” she said.

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