MANILA – Almost 10,000 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) gathered on Monday afternoon at Liwasang Aurora of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City to express their support to the Roxas-Robredo presidential and vice presidential tandem in the May 9 elections.
The gathering was attended by 4Ps parent-leaders and household beneficiaries from the National Capital Region (NCR) who shared their sentiments and assessments of what other candidates are promising to them just to win their votes.
Most of them said that obviously, there are candidates who have criticized the program before but are now enticing them with shining promises.
“Maraming kandidato ang nangangakong ipagpapatuloy ang 4Ps, pero sa lahat sa kanila, kay Mar at Leni lang talaga kami nagtitiwala. Sila ‘yung matagal nang sumusuporta sa programa bago pa man mag-eleksyon,” said Maria Elena Lagumbay, a 4Ps Parent-Leader from Quezon City.
Lagumbay was one of the 4Ps mothers who spearheaded the event dubbed as “Lakas ng Pantawid: Kami naman ang Magtatawid sa Daang Matuwid.”
The participants came from the 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila, including Quezon City, Caloocan City, Malabon City, Valenzuela City, Pasig City, and Makati City.
They said that it is their way of showing their support to the “Tuwid na Daan” path that has provided opportunities for them to enjoy the benefits of seeing their children in school, healthy and can have a better future.
“Ang mensahe ng aming pagkilos ay ‘Kami naman ang Magtatawid sa Daang Matuwid.’ Anim na taon kaming itinawid mula sa hirap ng programang ito, kami naman ang magtatawid sa kanila ngayon,” said Lorie Mejica, another 4Ps beneficiary from Caloocan City.
The 4Ps is the government’s conditional cash transfer program that was started in 2008, or during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
It was continued and enhanced under the “Daang Matuwid” program of President Benigno S. Aquino III in support of his agenda of inclusive growth wherein no one will be left behind, especially the poorest sectors of society.
In the past years, critics have tagged 4Ps as a dole-out program that makes its beneficiaries lazy, even calling it “limos” (alms) in some instances.
The parent-leaders said that some legislator have also questioned its sustainability and effectiveness in reducing poverty in the country.
However, in the months leading up to the May 2016 elections, candidates both in the national and local level – including some who previously criticized it – have publicly declared their support for 4Ps and promised to add innovations to the program.
It can be recalled that sometime in March, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey noted that four out of five Filipinos would vote for a candidate who will sustain this conditional cash transfer program.
Also in attendance during the gathering were civil society groups led by the Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE), Kilos Mamamayan, and People Power Volunteers for Reform.
Also present were Paolo Roxas, son of Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II; Jillian Robredo, daughter of vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon J. Soliman; and singer/performer Noel Cabangon who delivered speeches in support of the Roxas-Robredo team and in further enlightening the minds of 4Ps beneficiaries and giving them more “solid reasons” why they should not be persuaded with the promises of other candidates.
In her speech, Soliman said that 4PS beneficiaries are making a stand for something they know that they already have and strongly believe that the ones who can continue to support and enhance further the program are the administration’s candidates who, from the start, are supportive of the program which the beneficiaries can count on.