A leader of the House of Representatives on Thursday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Republic Act 11310 institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps cash transfer system for the poorest of the poor.
RA 11310 is a landmark anti-poverty law because it makes permanent the 4Ps which has been driven mainly by provision of annual budgets and executive issuances.
“This law provides for a governance, transparency, and accountability structure, as well as performance measures,” Rep. Michael Romero said.
“It cements and give body to the 4Ps architectural framework,” he added. “Upon this RA 11310 foundation, the national government can continually infuse resources.”
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 1130 on April 17. The Palace, however, only released the documents to reporters on Wednesday.
The newly signed law described 4PS as the government’s national poverty reduction strategy and human capital program, seeking to provide “conditional cash transfer to poor households for a maximum period of seven years, to improve the health, nutrition and education aspect of their lives.”
“On a nationwide basis, the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] shall select qualified household-beneficiaries of the 4Ps using a standardized targeting system. It shall conduct a regular revalidation of beneficiary targeting every three years,” the RA read.
Under the law, eligible beneficiaries are farmers, fisherfolks, homeless families, indigenous peoples, informal settlers, those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, and “those in areas without electricity.”
However, in order to be eligible for the cash grants, households or families must meet the following criteria: Classified as poor and near-poor based by the Philippine Statistics Authority, have members who are pregnant, or zero to 18 years old at the time of registration, and willing to comply with the condition specified by the law.
As for the conditional cash transfer to beneficiaries, the National Advisory Council shall determine the amount of conditional cash transfer to beneficiaries with the following schemes:
“Conditional cash transfer grant per child enrolled in daycare and elementary programs shall not be lower than P300 per month for a maximum of 10 months per year,” it said.
Romero, principal author of the measure at the Lower House, said his then House Bill 6600 provides “the minimum 4Ps resource allocation goal is 2 percent of gross domestic product, so that the poorest of the poor are made part of inclusive growth.”
“Two percent of GDP is a workable economic target in terms of wealth redistribution. This 2 percent is one top of the budget allocations for social services, such as education, health, social welfare,” he said.
The newly-signed law on 4Ps also provides children enrolled in junior high school will receive P500 per month for a maximum of 10 months per year. Those enrolled in senior high school, on the other hand, will receive P700 per month for a maximum of 12 months.
Also, livelihood programs and employment assistance can be availed by eligible beneficiaries at the DSWD.
However, persons who will be found of falsifying their information in the registry for conditional cash transfer may be imprisoned for a month or up to a year, and may be fined with not less than P10,000 but not more than P100,000.
Over at the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon said the signing into law of Republic Act 11310 is a big push in the government’s objective of reducing poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022.
Citing its effectiveness in combating poverty in the country, Drilon said institutionalization of the 4Ps is one of his campaign promises when he ran and topped the senatorial race in 2016.
“ I believe that such a very high-impact poverty alleviation program needs to be sustained,” said Drilon, one of the authors of the law.
He said the institutionalization of 4Ps would allay fears about the program being abolished or scaled down,” Drilon added.
The 4Ps was first implemented in pilot areas during the Arroyo administration with less than a million beneficiaries. The Aquino administration continued and expanded the program reaching more than four million beneficiaries by the end of Aquino’s term.
Drilon said that 4Ps helped in reducing poverty incidence in the country, citing the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which showed that poverty incidence in the country dropped to 21 percent in the first semester of 2018.
The 4Ps, according to Drilon, has become a platform to close the poor’s income gap, enabling them to move closer to the minimum income level.
In the Philippines, a family of 5 would need to earn P10,481 to meet their needs. The 4Ps would provide around P1,400 per month to millions of poorest families, augmenting their meager income, according to Drilon.
The senator also pointed to the program’s effectiveness in keeping poor children in school and preventing them from dropping out. One of the conditions of the program to receive the grant is for parents to send their children to school.