Problems with 4Ps

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

I hate to go into a fray involving my younger sibling, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo, on his controversial plan to expose undeserving beneficiaries of the government’s dole out to the poor – yes, that’s what it is, a dole out, instead of the euphemism cash transfer – but my name has been dragged into the controversy.

Erwin can hold his own or fight his own battle, but I just want to disabuse the mind of that reporter who said that my defunct Isumbong mo kay Tulfo public service program paid my clients to tell on corrupt or abusive government personnel.

That reporter and my former newspaper gave me too much credit, showing me to have cash coming out of my ears that I gave away money to people who complained to my program.

If I had so much cash coming out my ears to engage in the bounty system, how come I had to stop my program? Truth to tell, I had to ask for funding from my friend, president Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, in the last few months of “Isumbong” to sustain it.

Digong gave me money only because I was helping his administration ferret out abusive government personnel.

But since I’m already here, let me tackle the issue of giving cash rewards to people who pinpoint cheaters who rob the government of billions of pesos that should have been given to deserving families.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps, is meant to help families deal with extreme poverty, but it has been abused by millions of families or individuals.

It seems some officials at the DSWD didn’t care if the government was cheated, so long as they were able to make their relatives, friends or friends of their friends happy.

Some of the money might even have gone into their pockets. The 4Ps program is a source of graft at the DSWD. Ask some honest personnel at the department.

The proposal for the DSWD to tap the barangays to cleanse the 4Ps list of undesirable beneficiaries is shot full of holes since many barangay officials play favorites, or even give names of non-existent beneficiaries in their own turfs.

But as I’ve said in Saturday’s column, the government might as well scrap 4Ps as it promotes sloth, indolence or laziness among the lower sectors of society.

By doing away with 4Ps altogether, the government would impress upon the poor the value of work: if you don’t work, you can’t eat. That’s what it’s all about.

*      *      *

The 4Ps scheme brings to mind a caricature in the past of a man, his wide mouth open, waiting for a ripe guava to fall.

The caricature of Juan Tamad (or Juan the Lazy) was a commentary on the Filipino’s indolence.

For example, coconut farmers lie idle for months while waiting for coconuts to get ripe for copra instead of planting vegetables or other crops like camote (sweet potato) under the coconut trees.

I was a personal witness to the Filipino’s laziness when, as an adolescent, I lived in my maternal grandmother’s coconut plantation in Manay, Davao Oriental, in 1962.

My diligent grandmother would ask her tenants – now called kasama – to plant vegetables for their consumption.

You know what? My grandma would pay for their effort when they were the ones who would harvest the vegetables and consume them!

In my young mind, I asked myself why the kasama couldn’t do it alone without being told? Weren’t they supposed to benefit from the harvest?

My grandma said making them work on their vegetable garden would keep them away from trouble, which would start when they got drunk from a drinking binge.

*      *      *

Ordinary Filipinos don’t have a monopoly on laziness. There are also lazy people among those who are supposed to teach diligence on account of their “high” education.

Take the policeman, for example. He is a college graduate. Yet you seldom find a cop who would do something outside of keeping the peace.

Go to any police station and use its restroom. You’ll find it stinks like hell.

Why? A cop will tell you it’s not his job to clean the toilet, even if by not doing so he and his fellow policemen would look bad in the eyes of the public.

A decade ago I took part in an international competition of arnis (a Filipino martial art using sticks) and the games were held at the gym inside Camp Crame, the general headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

You know what? I was so embarrassed by the stink coming from both the female and male toilets. Foreign participants who used the restrooms covered their noses with handkerchiefs while relieving themselves.

Why didn’t the then chief of the PNP order his men to clean the gym toilets, when he knew that a competition – involving foreigners from different countries – was going to be held in the gym?

Perhaps he was too busy counting the money he could earn from the kickback in a multimillion-peso anomalous deal to mind how the PNP would look in the eyes of the world.

He and his accomplices have been convicted by the Sandiganbayan.

May the court’s decision serve as a warning to all high-ranking officers of the PNP in the future not to monkey around with people’s money.

*      *      *

Joke! Joke! Joke!

Rice cooked at a Chinese restaurant in Binondo, Manila is hard to swallow.

A sign outside the restaurant says, Pride Rice P15 a plate.


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