Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Friday bewailed the marginalization of farmers and fishermen in the government’s multi-billion-peso Pantawid Pamilya Program.
“Many of our farmers and fisherfolk are not included in the barangay lists of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] recipients even if they are the poorest of the poor because they reside in far flung communities hardly reached by welfare programs and are rarely visited by government social workers,” said Marcos, the only local executive running for senator in next year’s midterm elections.
The 4Ps is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18. It is patterned after the conditional cash transfer schemes in Latin American and African countries, which have lifted millions of people around the world from poverty.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is the lead government agency mandated to implement the 4Ps. This year, DSWD got a budget of P89 billion to implement its flagship program.
“Farmers and fisherfolk are the most vulnerable to adverse climactic conditions. Walang ani, walang nahuhuling isda, walang kinikita pag tag-ulan o bumabagyo. So they do not earn enough to feed their families and improve their living conditions,” she added.
Marcos strongly proposed that a new program, “Pantawid Kita,” specifically for the benefit of farmers and fisherfolk, must be created as a distinct component of the Pantawid Pamilya program to provide monthly basic income to farmers and fisherfolk in such amounts equivalent, at least, to those given to regular 4Ps beneficiaries.
She said that the basic income for farmers and fishermen takes off from the concept of a universal basic income, but it is a targeted assistance for farmers and fishermen only.
“We need to give our farmers and fishermen this basic income to end the tragedy that those who produce food and save many from hunger, are themselves unable to buy food or keep their families from being hungry,” Marcos said.
“We use billions to preserve, as we must, national treasures like the Banaue Rice Terraces,” she said. “We must also be willing to set aside, in the national budget, a few billions more, so that we can roll out a basic income program for farmers and fishermen who are also our national treasures,” Marcos said.