Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara said there should be no delay in the release of the cash benefits under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the government’s flagship anti-poverty alleviation initiative to ease the plight of some 4.4 million active household beneficiaries.
Angara said the 12-year-old human development program—designed to keep children in school and keep them healthy—had been proven to be an effective tool for poverty alleviation. First implemented in 2007, 4Ps invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly children aged 0-18 years old.
“We should find creative and efficient ways on how the cash grants for 4Ps beneficiaries can be distributed in a timely manner,” said Angara, who is scheduled to visit the province of Palawan on Thursday to attend the campaign rally of PDP-Laban, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Palawan is home to 76,813 active household beneficiaries of the program spread in 22 municipalities and the provincial capital, based on data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development as of February 28, 2019, and majority are in Puerto Princesa at 7,546. Also in the list of municipalities with the highest number of recipients are Bataraza, 7,007 households; Taytay, 6929; and Rizal, 5,228.
“Ang tulong ay dapat laging on time. Huwag na po nating paghintayin ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap na nakikinabang sa 4Ps. Sana ay gawan ng paraan upang hindi maantala ang ayuda sa kanila,” said the senator from Aurora, who is running under the platform “Alagang Angara.”
Patterned after the CCT scheme implemented in other developing countries, 4Ps provides cash grants to beneficiaries if they comply with the conditions set under the program.
“Sa higit isang dekada na ito’y inimplementa, milyun-milyong pamilya ang natulungan na makaahon sa buhay. Milyun-milyong anak ang nakapagpa-check up at nabakunahan, nakapag-aral din at nakapagtapos,” Angara said.
He added: “Milyun-milyong ina ang nabigyan ng pre-natal services, nanganak sa health facility sa tulong ng isang health professional, at nakatanggap ng post-partum at post-natal care para sa kanilang anak. Milyun-milyon din ang nabigyan ng PhilHealth coverage. Sa madaling salita, milyun-milyong Pilipino ang nabigyan ng magandang simula dahil sa 4Ps.”
Angara is one of the authors of a bill seeking to institutionalize 4Ps, which is now one step closer to becoming a law after the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the measure.
The senator said it was important to make 4Ps permanent through legislation to ensure its continuity and unhampered implementation by any administration.
“Kaya mahalagang maisabatas ito. Kung hindi, maaari itong buwagin at ihinto, imbes na paigtingin at lalong palawigin ng mga susunod na administrasyon,” Angara said.
“Kung mangyaring ihinto natin ito, ang nasimulang pag-ahon ay mabibigo at mauuwi sa hungkag na katapusan. Hindi ito uubra kung ang pangarap natin ay ang pag-ahon at pag-unlad bilang bansa,” he added.
When he filed his bill in 2016, Angara backed up the measure with studies showing that 4Ps reduced the total poverty among CCT beneficiaries by 6.5 percent to 58 percent from 64.5 percent, according to a joint study by the World Bank and Australian Aid.
It also decreased food poverty rate from 35.2 percent to 28.5 percent after the program implementation, or by 6.7 percentage points. This implied that 1.3 million Filipinos had been plucked out of poverty through 4Ps.
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 (UCT) program will be increased to P300 per month or a total of P3,600.