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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Imee wants broader 4Ps to cover ill elders, PWDs

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SENATOR Imee Marcos has urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to include bed-ridden senior citizens and severely challenged persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Marcos said they are looking at how the 4Ps can be expanded since there are still countless unserved poor Filipinos, who were not covered in the conditional cash transfer program, but this time making it “unconditional” for the sake of the most vulnerable citizens.

Earlier, Marcos, as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, conducted hearings on several bills proposing amendments to the “4Ps Law (Republic Act 11310)” and the institutionalization of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS).

“I have been saying for a long time, let’s not treat it as a conditional cash transfer, make it unconditional. And that’s the order of our Lord in the Bible—to take care of our elders and those who cannot work,” she told reporters.

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

Marcos explained that there are other causes of poverty not addressed by 4Ps. “From 2007, it should have been diversified. The two measurements are not enough: vaccination and education,” she said.

The senator also urged the DSWD, in collaboration with other government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs), to come up with practical “exit strategies” for 4Ps beneficiaries.

She said this will allow more impoverished Filipinos to avail themselves of the program, including the Alternative Learning System (ALS), adult education, entrepreneurship, and other employment activities.

For 4Ps to succeed, Marcos said families must eventually be able to be self-sufficient. She cited a Commission on Audit (CoA) report stating that 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.

The senator also underscored the need for a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the program, integrating assessments conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Social Welfare Indicator (SWIn), and the World Bank to determine how it has impacted the poor.

She maintained the same stance for AICS. To prevent the politicization of this program and to allow DSWD “to do its job,” Marcos agreed with the position of the department barring local and national leaders from having a say on the beneficiaries’ list.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Imee wants ‘unconditional’ 4Ps extended to bed-ridden seniors, PWDs

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