One of the highlights in President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25 was his plan to expand the anti-poverty program. He specified his plans, including giving rice subsidies to the poorest families, developing universal health insurance for all Filipinos, and pushing for ‘no demolition without relocation’ for the poor.
“The beneficiaries of 4Ps shall be made to become independent and self-reliant after their graduations from the program. As it is we aim to present the other forms of assistance so that they can stand on their own feet. But now I have decided to direct the DSWD to provide the rice subsidies to the poorest of the families, so at least they can eat, every month,” Duterte said in his speech.
No new beneficiaries, says Taguiwalo
Will Duterte’s administration continue implementing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)?
Filipinos don’t have to worry about the new administration scrapping the 4Ps, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, since current members will still receive help from the government.
However, she told Rappler that “the current members will be retained, but there wouldn’t be new members because we don’t have the budget for that.”
During the campaign for the May 9 elections, Duterte promised that he will expand 4Ps and give at least a sack of rice to the poorest Filipinos if he wins president. Asked where he will get the funds, he cited getting some from the Sin Tax and the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). “Iyang Pantawid, I will continue it at saka dagdagan. Diyan tama si [President Benigno] Aquino [III],” Duterte said.
On the planned expansion of the program, Taguiwalo said that she still needs to study 4PS and its long-term impact on reducing poverty. She also added that they are finding ways to support the graduates, stop them from sliding back to poverty and help them become independent.
Duterte, in his SONA, said that he will focus more on labor-intensive industries, such as manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, to provide the poor with more employment opportunities,
Aside from the budget for 4Ps, Taguiwalo also opened up about another potential problem – most of the DSWD employees monitoring more than 4 million 4Ps beneficiaries around the country are contractual workers.
“They are complaining the workload is quite heavy and most of the employees are contractual employees so that if we expand it (4Ps), we are going to expand contractualization, we add to the workload,” Taguiwalo said.
No 4Ps expansion, says DBM
Even before the SONA, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on July 14 that the Duterte administration will not expand the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, another name for the 4Ps.
GMA News Online quoted Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s statement during a press briefing, saying “We’re committed to CCT but I think it will be retained at the present level. We are not for expanding it but we’re also going to shoot for reducing the wastage, the leakages.”
Diokno also said that some members enrolled in the program do not “deserve” the government’s assistance and added that their goal is to follow the concept of the 4Ps, which is to “keep our kids longer at school.”
In the proposed 2017 budget worth P3.35 trillion, P54.9 billion will be allocated to the 4Ps, benefiting around 4.4 million households.
According to gov.ph, the 4Ps is a “human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of the children aged 0-18.”