Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought an inquiry into the failure of the beneficiaries of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme to receive their cash grants that are supposed to assist them with their health, education and other basic needs.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 850 directing the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, which she chairs, to inquire into the ₱1.323 billion unwithdrawn amount of the 4Ps for a period ranging from 30 to 2,190 days after payout.
“It is imperative that the government continues to deliver an effective social welfare program and social protection mitigating mechanisms helping the poorest and marginalized households by ensuring that the funds intended for CCT are given to beneficiaries who truly need them,” she said.
“The failure of these funds to reach qualified beneficiaries is an inefficiency that we cannot afford to have as many of our countrymen are in dire need of assistance, especially now that we are experiencing crippling levels of inflation,” she said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) adopted the CCT scheme in 2008. It expanded under 4Ps which is described as “a human development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children aged 0-18 years old.”
In its 2017 audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that the account balances of CCT/Modified Cash Transfer beneficiaries under the cash card, prepaid card and FCB mode of payment showed that ₱1.323 billion were unutilized by the supposed beneficiaries 30 to 2,190 days after payout.
Based from the same COA Report, the large amount of unwithdrawn grants requires a serious inquiry because it gives “an impression that the holders of the accounts are not in dire need of assistance for the education of their children, health needs of the family, and other basic expenses of a family.”
The Senator from Bicol said the poorest of the poor beneficiary-families must receive the grants on a timely manner and that government must provide an efficient, effective and accessible system of receiving their pay-outs.
“There is a need to ascertain the possibility of whether the failure to withdraw the cash grants can be attributed to other factors such as limited access by the beneficiaries to banking facilities,” she said.
De Lima also underscored the need to look into possible corrective measures to allow the DSWD to promptly look into dormant CCT accounts and implement immediate courses of action to ensure that the funds reach the program’s intended beneficiaries
The 4Ps program is part of the Government’s Social Protection framework and strategy under the component of Social Welfare.
It provides 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.
Additionally, conditions include that 0-5 year old children must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines while 6-14 years old children must receive deworming pills twice a year, and that parents should participate in training activities or Family Development Sessions.