Tell it to SunStar: Unconditional cash transfer for bedridden seniors, PWDs

Tell it to SunStar.
Tell it to SunStar.SunStar file photo

By Sen. Imee R. Marcos

I urge the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to expand the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to still unserved poor Filipinos, and include unconditional cash transfers for bed-ridden senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

As chairperson of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, we held a hearing Tuesday, April 23, on several bills proposing amendments to the “4Ps Act (Republic Act 11310)” and the institutionalization of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS).

Mayaman na nga ang Pilipinas at umaasenso sa ekonomiya, pero marami pa ring Pilipinong naiiwan. Kaya ito nga tinitignan natin yung 4Ps kung paanong palalaganapin kasi mayroong nakakalimutan o napag-iiwanan katulad ng bedridden seniors at yung mga severely challenged na PWD. Matagal ko nang sinasabi, huwag nang gawing conditional cash transfer—unconditional na yan at yan ay utos ng ating Panginoon, nasa Bibliya yan, pangalagaan na lang yung matatanda at yung may kapansanan na hindi nakakapagtrabaho.

(The Philippines is indeed rich and advancing economically, but there are still many Filipinos left behind. That’s why we are looking at how to spread 4Ps because there are people who are forgotten or left behind like the bedridden seniors and the severely challenged PWD. I’ve been saying for a long time, don’t make it a conditional cash transfer – make that unconditional and that’s the order of our Lord, it’s in the Bible, just take care of the elderly and the disabled who can’t work.)

Since the program’s inception in 2007, 4Ps indicators have been limited to health and vaccination, and education. It should offer a more diversified menu to cover more poor beneficiaries.

There are other causes of poverty not addressed by 4Ps… Dapat from 2007 it should diversify; hindi na sapat ang two measurements: vaccination and education (From 2007 it should have diversified; the two measurements of vaccination and education are no longer enough).

I urge the DSWD, in collaboration with other government agencies and nongovernment organizations, to come up with practical “exit strategies” for 4Ps beneficiaries to allow more impoverished Filipinos to avail themselves of the program, including the Alternative Learning System, adult education, and entrepreneurship and other employment activities.

For 4Ps to succeed, families must eventually be able to be self-sufficient. According to a Commission on Audit report, 90 percent of active 4Ps beneficiaries in 2022 were still well below the poverty line and would remain there.

The same report noted a total of 4.2 million active 4Ps beneficiaries have been on the program for seven to 13 years.

“Dahil kung titingnan ang 4Ps, ang titingnan lang natin dyan yung mga pamilya na may mga anak na minors—under 18 years old—at dalawa lang ang palatandaan: vaccination at magtapos ng high school. Yun lang. Pero walang isinasaad na kailangang maghanap ng trabaho, kailangang mag-umpisa ng hanapbuhay at kailangan i-upgrade ang kaalaman at magkaroon ng diploma.“Walang ganoon sa magulang, kaya’t ito ang tinututukan natin at pinipilit ko na sana magkaroon ng iba’t ibang exit strategy, hangga’t maaari, mag-”graduate” na kaagad sabay bago na naman na mga magulang at pamilya ang makikinabang sa 4Ps para tuloy-tuloy ang tulong sa iba’t ibang pamilya (If you look at the program, it only focuses on families that have children who are minors — under 18 years old — and there are only two requirements: vaccination and graduating from high school. That’s all. Nothing states that you have to find a job, you have to start a career and you have to upgrade your knowledge and get a diploma. The parents are not required to address these. That is why we should look at various exit strategies so the beneficiaries can “graduate” and new parents and families can benefit from the 4Ps and the assistance to different families can continue.)

There should be a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the program, integrating assessments conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Social Welfare Indicator, and the World Bank to determine how it has effectively impacted the poor sector of Philippine society.

It should be similar for AICS.

We know that funding is lacking, so we need to prioritize the most important programs, and determine which of the programs are not doing well.

To prevent the politicization of AICS and to allow DSWD to do its job, I agree with the position of the department barring local and national leaders from having any say on the beneficiaries’ list.


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