A TOTAL of 34,724 poor households in Cebu have received the unconditional cash transfer of P2,400 for the year intended to mitigate the impact of the increase in the prices of oil and basic commodities brought by the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law.
Last March 6, the funds were downloaded to the ATM accounts of these Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries who had cash cards, said 4Ps regional project coordinator Raquel Enriquez last Wednesday.
Another 116,263 poor households in Cebu have yet to receive their P200/month subsidy, released as a one-time payment of P2,400 for the year. These are the households that normally receive their 4Ps grants over the counter, or through payouts done per municipality, she said.
Pantawid is the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s program to give cash grants to the poorest of the poor on the condition that they invest in the health and education of their children aged 0-18, and avail themselves of maternal health services.
All the 4.4 million households under the 4Ps nationwide are target recipients of the unconditional cash transfer, which will be increased to P300/month in 2019 and 2020.
The Train law, passed last December to help fund the infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration and reduce inequality, increased the excise taxes on petroleum products, vehicles, cigarettes and sweetened beverages, but also lowered personal income taxes and estate and donor’s taxes. But the poor cannot enjoy the decrease in income taxes because they don’t hold regular jobs.
Enriquez acknowledged that the P200/month subsidy won’t be enough to offset the increase in the prices of commodities that has occurred since the Train law was implemented in January.
“But with the grants the 4Ps beneficiaries receive for complying with the conditions of the Pantawid, this would help. Starting January 2017, they also started receiving P600/month as rice subsidy. This year, they will still get the P600,” she said.
Under the 4Ps, the education grant for up to three children per household is P300 per child per month for elementary school and below, or P500 for high school. The child must attend 85 percent of the school days monthly to get the education subsidy.
The household also gets P500 a month if it avails itself of all the health center’s services and attends the monthly Family Development Sessions.
Despite their poverty, Enriquez said, some 4Ps beneficiaries had yet to withdraw the P2,400 downloaded to their ATM accounts, preferring to save the money for withdrawal later.
“But they’ve been made to understand that they should not keep the money there for long because their cash card is not a savings account,” Enriquez said.
The National Economic and Development Authority attributed the rise in commodity prices in January to Train and the effects of typhoons on crops. But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian disagreed, saying it was external events like the rise in global oil prices and the peso depreciation that caused the hike.