TACLOBAN City, Leyte, May 6, 2016 – While some candidates promise the further expansion and institutionalization of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a cleric here calls for its thorough evaluation first.
Fr. Fritz Francis Del Pilar said: “The program should be carefully weighed up if it is truly advantageous or it just helped the family beneficiaries become dependent and to a point lazy,” referring to the conditional cash transfer component of 4Ps.
This young priest based his view on his observations during his stay in different parishes.
“There were families, since they are dependent on the 4Ps, who do not work anymore, do not strive to venture an extra mile that they lived a life of mediocrity,” he disclosed in an interview.
Moving to non-poor status
Del Pilar, however, believes the program has potential but has reservations about the conditional cash transfer, which eats up a huge chunk of the program’s total funds.
UP Visayas Tacloban College Political Science Professor Ladylyn Lim in a similar vein is in favor of extending the 4Ps but only after an assessment of results.
“The 4Ps has very good intentions [that] it wanted to help the many poorest among the poor in the country,” Lim said in an interview.
Lim favors government spending for the poor but stressed, “First, there should be an evaluation so that they can go to school, can have good health, better nutrition, and eventually become productive.”
City Vice-Mayor Jerry “Sambo” Yaokasin is likewise calling for regular evaluation of the program, “to ensure that the beneficiaries will not abuse the program.”
The online Official Gazette of the national government disclosed that a total of 1,511,320 household beneficiaries or 36 percent of the total 4.2 million active Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program have improved their status to “non-poor”.
This was based on the second round of household assessment for Listahanan or the National Household Targetng System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
However, it mentioned the national government’s apprehension that “of those who have transitioned to non-poor, about 67,968 or 4.5% are still at risk of reverting to poverty when faced with disasters and economics shocks.”
This group, classified as the “vulnerable” or “transient poor” are those who identified themselves as non-poor on a particular year but get dragged back to poverty a few years after.
Several national candidates have mentioned the 4Ps as campaign rallying point. One advocates for the program’s expansion, while another lobbies for its institutionalization by way of law.
“Before we expand, we need to assess if the 4Ps is really targeting the poor, what are the kinks in its implementation, is [the fund] released on time, is the amount adequate, is it only good for families with four children, what should be expanded” Lim commented.
“We expand based on independent evaluation,” she further suggested.
Del Pilar said if pro-4Ps candidates win, they should first allow for an independent evaluation to measure the program’s effectiveness.
Del Pilar also commented that the fund should be used correctly and effectively to avoid any suspicion of corruption. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)