Senator Sonny Angara said the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) ought to be institutionalized to give millions of poor Filipinos a better chance of escaping poverty.
Angara said the 12-year-old human development program—designed to keep children in school and keep them healthy—had been proven to be an effective tool for poverty alleviation. First implemented in 2007, 4Ps invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly children aged 0-18 years old
“The 4Ps helps reduce poverty and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty through investments in the health and education of Filipino children,” Angara said.
Patterned after the CCT scheme enforced in other developing countries, 4Ps provides cash grants to beneficiaries provided that they comply with the set of conditions required by the program.
“Sa higit isang dekada na ito’y inimplementa, milyun-milyong pamilya ang natulungan na makaahon sa buhay. Milyun-milyong anak ang nakapagpa-check up at nabakunahan, nakapag-aral din at nakapagtapos,” Angara said.
He added: “Milyun-milyong ina ang nabigyan ng pre-natal services, nanganak sa health facility sa tulong ng isang health professional, at nakatanggap ng post-partum at post-natal care para sa kanilang anak. Milyun-milyon din ang nabigyan ng PhilHealth coverage. Sa madaling salita, milyun-milyong Pilipino ang nabigyan ng magandang simula dahil sa 4Ps.”
Angara is one of the authors of a bill seeking to institutionalize 4Ps, which is now one step closer to becoming a law after the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the measure. The enrolled bill will be sent to Malacañang for President Duterte’s signature.
The senator said it was important to institutionalize the 4Ps through legislation to ensure its continuity and unhampered implementation by any administration.
“Kaya mahalagang maisabatas ito. Kung hindi, maaari itong buwagin at ihinto, imbes na paigtingin at lalong palawigin ng mga susunod na administrasyon,” Angara said.
“Kung mangyaring ihinto natin ito, ang nasimulang pag-ahon ay mabibigo at mauuwi sa hungkag na katapusan. Hindi ito uubra kung ang pangarap natin ay ang pag-ahon at pag-unlad bilang bansa,” he added.
When he filed his bill in 2016, Angara backed up the measure with studies showing that the 4Ps reduced the total poverty among CCT beneficiaries from 64.5 percent to 58 percent, or by 6.5 percentage points, according to a joint study by the World Bank and Australian Aid.
It also decreased food poverty rate from 35.2 percent to 28.5 percent after the program implementation, or by 6.7 percentage points. This implies that 1.3 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty through 4Ps.
Data from the Department of Finance showed that there are about 4.4 million active household beneficiaries under the 4Ps program, as of January 14, 2019.
Each household beneficiary received a cash assistance of P200 monthly or a total of P2,400 per year in 2018. This year and in 2020, cash assistance under the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program will be increased to P300 per month or a total of P3,600.