MANILA – The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a human development program of the national government being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is now covering around 4.4 million households nationwide, an indication that more poor Filipino families are benefiting from the good governance thrust of the Aquino administration.
The 4Ps, commonly known as the Philippine version of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), a poverty alleviation program across the world, invests in the health and education of children 0-18 years old from eligible poor Filipino families.
It was first implemented in 2008 and was continued after the presidential election in 2010 when President Benigno S. Aquino III saw the need to enhance it and ensure that the poorest of the poor will not be left behind in reaping the fruits of good governance and economic growth.
In line with the goal of achieving inclusive growth for all Filipinos, the administration, through the DSWD, enhanced its investment on human development by ensuring that education and health of children are properly supported through cash grants provided to the 4Ps beneficiaries.
According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, the investments on these aspects are being done to ensure that the children of the poor families benefiting from the program will have the chance to move out from the poor condition into a better one as they step upward through acquisition of education and becoming healthy at the same time.
Just like what the President pointed out in his sixth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 2015, the fruit of that investment “is a long-term one” wherein the impact cannot be seen or felt right away because it takes years for the children beneficiaries to finish or graduate from their studies, then land a good-paying job.
President Aquino said that based on the records they gathered, at least 13,469 high school graduates under the program this year received honors and other awards.
“Iyon nga pong dalawang benepisyaryong nakilala ko, nakapasok sa quota course na Civil Engineering sa University of the Philippines,” he added.p>A total of 333,673 high school beneficiaries under the 4Ps graduated last March.
“Ang lahat po ng benepisyaryong ito, tataas ang antas ng kaalaman; sa halip na menial jobs ang pasukan ay malamang makakuha sila ng mga trabahong maayos ang mga suweldo. Income tax pa lang nila, bawi na ang puhunan ng estado, at maitutuloy natin ang siklo ng pagbibigay-lakas sa mga nangangailangan. Bonus pa po ang lalong magandang kinabukasang nag-aabang para sa mga honor students na pinagtapos ng programa,” the Chief Executive said.
As also mentioned by the President in the said SONA, as of 2010, only 786,523 households were benefiting from the program, which was then expanded continuously every year under his administration.
On its seventh year (2015), the program is being implemented in 41,519 barangays, 1,483 municipalities and 144 cities in 81 provinces nationwide.
Also benefiting from it are Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and households having members with disability and those covered by the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program.
The program helps to fulfill the country’s commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), namely: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger; Achieve Universal Primary Education; Promote Gender Equality; Reduce Child Mortality; and Improve Maternal Health.
To avail of the cash grants, beneficiaries should comply with the following conditions:
* Pregnant women must avail of pre- and post-natal care and be attended during childbirth by a trained health professional.
* Parents must attend Family Development Sessions (FDS).
* Children 0-5 years old must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines.
* Children 6-14 years old must receive deworming pills twice a year.
* Children 3-18 years old must enroll in school and maintain a class attendance of at least 85% per month.
Important partners of DSWD in the implementation of the program are the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) which monitor school attendance and compliance with the health requirement, respectively.
Last April, 4Ps held a recognition activity with the theme “Pagtatapos Nyo Tagumpay ng Pilipino” for the first batch of high school graduates which was attended by more than 18,000 students from the National Capital Region (NCR). p>In the same occasion and succeeding events of the DSWD, the high school graduates who earned recognitions and awarded with honors were presented to prove that the assistance of the government did not go to waste because the “said graduates are living examples of how the program can help the poor not to remain poor forever.”
“These significant numbers reflect the progress of the program in terms of changing the lives of our beneficiaries. This program has given them hope and chance to improve their lives,” DSWD Secretary Soliman said.
As the country is holding another presidential election come May 2016, the viability of continuing the program beyond the present administration is also being asked by the partner-beneficiaries.
“I have been openly asked several times by many of our beneficiaries. From my standpoint, the only assurance that the program will be continued is through our partner-beneficiaries. We at the Department will only serve as facilitators to ensure that their voices are heard by our policy makers,” the DSWD chief said.
At present, there is a move in Congress to institutionalize the Pantawid Pamilya program by enacting a law to govern it, which is being pushed and supported by the beneficiaries of the program.
In one of the occasions for 4Ps last October in celebration of the Pantawid Pamilya Family Day, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto and her husband, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto expressed their full support for the institutionalization of the program.
“We are grateful for this initiative coming from the Senate and the House of Representatives, most especially to the sponsors of this bill who are one with us in believing that the Pantawid Pamilya will have a positive impact on the lives of our beneficiaries. We are confident that with the passage of this bill into law, we will have more children who are assured of finishing their high school and will grow up healthy,” Secretary Soliman said.
Through the program, cash grant worth PhP300 is given to every child studying in elementary, while PhP500 is granted to the child studying in high school.
The maximum number of children that shall receive the said grants should be three. The grants will be received for 10 months every year.
Every family beneficiary also receives PhP500 as health grants.
Most of the household beneficiaries of the 4Ps have said that they use the grants for purchasing the school needs of their children and as transportation allowance or in buying healthy foods for their children.
In contrast to what the critics of the program are saying, many beneficiaries are maintaining that they use the grants as their “instruments” in not sinking deeper into poverty and they believe such is not a dole-out because while they are receiving such assistance as grants, they are also doing their part to move to self-sufficiency level.
Some of them are also assisted by DSWD through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) in partnership with different government agencies, civil society organizations and other partners.
Through SLP also, beneficiaries with skills and entrepreneurial knowledge are given the opportunity to earn as they are referred to jobs and loans without interest and collateral.
Just a few weeks ago, the DSWD even conducted “PaskoJuan Bazaar” in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City to showcase the products of the beneficiaries so that more people will be aware that the poor being assisted are also doing their share to be productive members of society.