Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to make the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as one of the regular poverty reduction programs of the government for qualified poor families across the country.
De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2016 to ensure that the continuation of the conditional cash transfer assistance for the qualified beneficiaries in terms of health, education and other basic needs will not be dependent on future administrations.
“Government must provide the basic needs of our vulnerable citizens: food, health and education – which are the core mandates of human rights, and is the very centerpiece of social justice,” she said.
“It is our solemn duty to ensure its sustainable implementation, protection from political patronage and insulation from government transition that can weaken the impact of the program,” she added.
Deemed as a national poverty reduction strategy and a human capital investment program, the 4Ps provides conditional cash transfer (CCT) to poor households for a maximum period of seven years, to improve the health, nutrition and education aspect of their lives.
The cash transfers that are conditional upon the child beneficiaries’ enrolment in school and their requirement to meet a required class attendance and mothers/ pregnant women availing pre- and post-natal care to be attended during childbirth by a trained health professional, among others.
According to the Senator, since 4Ps is just a mere policy program which is not yet passed into law, there is a tendency for the next administration to scrap it which would heavily burden the poor families benefitting from it.
Under SB No. 2016, De Lima proposed to expand the health and nutrition expenses of the qualified beneficiaries from P600 to 750 every month to compensate the rising prices of rice and other basic health and nutrition needs of the poor.
“Now that our country’s economy is failing and the people are experiencing crippling levels of inflation, we need to ensure that financial assistance would be provided for those in need of aid,” she said.
De Lima’s proposed measure also provides loan assistance for livelihood opportunities or employment facilitation to beneficiaries who successfully completed the required skills training programs under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Sustainable Livelihood Program ((DSWD-SLP).
“As an alternative, the beneficiary may opt to also avail employment facilitation track provided by the SLP or other employment programs of appropriate government agencies implementing the same,” she explained.
To ensure the effective and transparent implementation of 4Ps, De Lima batted for the establishment of two key oversight bodies to consistently oversee the massive poverty reduction program and avoid leakages and gaps.
One of such bodies is an Advisory Council which should be created at the regional and national level to monitor and assess actions and activities relative to the implementation of the program, she explained.
She also proposed a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee which is expected to set the overall framework to review the implementation of the Act even as it determines inherent weaknesses in the law and recommend necessary remedial legislation
Last Aug. 28, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 850 which seeks to conduct an inquiry into the reported failure of the 4ps beneficiaries to receive their cash grants, noting that there was ₱1.323 billion unwithdrawn amount of the 4Ps for a period ranging from 30 to 2,190 days after payout.