PANTAWID Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) has become the life and sustenance of many poor families. But with elections looming ahead, there is no assurance that this will be continued by the next administration. What would happen then to the beneficiaries?
Elena Alingalan, a social worker of Barangay 23-C, Davao City, said she believes 4Ps will be continued by the next administration because this is part of the programs designed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which incidentally is supposed to be reached this year.
“We can’t say for sure, but since this is part of the MDGs that we signed as a commitment to fulfill, then it is likely that the program will be continued by the next president,” she said in the vernacular.
During President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, when the conditional cash transfer program was first implemented, the beneficiary should have children between 0-14 years old.
Just last year, under President Benigno Aquino III’s time, the age was increased to 18 years old because of the additional years in high school as mandated by the Kinder to 12 years Enhanced Basic Education Program (K-12).
Sheryll Fernandez, 4Ps information officer for Davao Region, said that it is important to ensure that the children covered finish high school.
“More opportunities await those who graduate from high school and that is what the DSWD is looking at,” she said.
Gelin Amelita Rendo, 43, a resident of Barangay 23-C, Davao City and a member of Badjao tribe, said the 4Ps allowance enables her to send her three younger children to school.
Her five elder children did not reach high school.
She added that many among her tribe have also learned how to read and write like she did in the attached basic literacy program thus weaning them away from begging.
Rendo sells ukay-ukay at the Agdao Public Market while her husband sells cellphone casings and belts around the city. The cash she receives from 4Ps every two months goes to her children’s school expenses and additional capital for her ukay-ukay.
“Padayunon lang unta hantod sa hantod (I hope that this will go on forever),” Rendo said.
Arlyn Limato Quimque, 37, a housewife in Barangay 23-C, also has words of thanks for the program as it lightens the burden of sending six children to school.
“Naa jud koy ginapaabot kung nay bayronon ang mga bata (I can expect regular assistance for my children’s school expenses),” she said.
Quimque has one at Sta. Ana High School and two at Sta. Ana Elementary School who covered by 4Ps. Her husband works as an automotive technician who can earn as much as P4,000 to P5,000 a week when he has a client, but this does not happen all the time.
Aside from financial help, Quimque most appreciates the Family Development Seminars, which she said, empowers her.
“Karon nakasulod nami sa 4Ps nakabalo nami nga bawal diay magpadaugdaug, isog nang mag asawa karon kay sa una magpakulata lang man karon makabalo nami asa mudagan sa panahon nga ing-ana (Now that we are members of 4Ps, we already know that being abused is not right. More wives are more assertive of their rights now unlike before when they will just suffer the abuses of their husbands. Now we know whom to run to when we face such problems),” she said.
Both Quimque and Rendo always attend the Family Development Seminars, afraid that they would face sanctions and be delisted.
Despite this positive feedback, 4Ps is not free of controversies. There are talks that this is being used by politicians to get votes.
While this has been denied, there has been a series of delisting of beneficiaries included due to error, fraud, and those who were found to have regular income sources.
Last May, DSWD Davao Region removed 18,024 families from the list of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries since 2009.
As of last April, Davao Region, had 232,553 households in the program, with 85,535 coming from Davao del Sur, 47,961 from Davao del Norte, 41,718 from Davao Oriental and 57,339 from Compostela Valley.
In a report on Manila Bulletin earlier this year, it was said that as of March 2015, the bill for the institutionalization of 4Ps has already been approved by House Committee on Poverty Alleviation.
Meanwhile, the government increased the budget for the 4Ps program from P62.6 billion in 2014 to P64.7 billion this year.