P500 billion in dole shielded from Palace whims

The law institutionalizing a P500-billion government dole to the poor must be accompanied by “responsive and relevant” implementing rules and regulations that ensure that the real beneficiaries are helped and that the program is sustainable and avoids wasteful spending, a Senate leader said Sunday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, one of the law’s co-authors, said the law institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program gathered the best practices and lessons learned from the past 10 years that the conditional cash transfer, officially called the 4Ps, has been implemented.

“From 2007, when it was launched with a P50-million budget, the 4Ps annual spending has surged 176,213 percent with this year’s proposed allocation at P88 billion. With this amount, we should make sure that the real poor are helped and the targets of the program met,” Recto said.

The IRR should reflect the real intention of the law, which is to institutionalize 4Ps to help the real poor, to ensure the sustainability of the program and avoid wasteful spending, he said.

Republic Act No. 11310, an act institutionalizing 4Ps, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 17 and comes into effect June 7.

READ: Du30 signs 4Ps law as poverty reduction scheme

Integrated into the new law are the substantive amendments introduced by Recto in the Senate, such as the automatic inclusion of families of farmers, fishermen and those who live in areas without electricity; and lifting of the limit on the number of children to qualify for the cash grants.

“Most of the 23.7-million poor are in this sector. The poverty incidence among farmers is 34.3 percent, while it is 34 percent for fishermen. These are higher than the latest poverty incidence figure of 21.6 percent,” Recto said.

“If they will still be hit by rice tariffication and climate change, it is just right to prioritize social protection,” he added.

Another Recto amendment is linking 4Ps to livelihood and skills-training programs.

“This shouldn’t be a dole where the poor wait for an allowance. They should be taught skills that can get them employed. This is not merely giving them fish, but teaching them how to fish,” Recto said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Meanwhile, Makati City Rep. Luis Angel Campos said the new law means the country’s subsequent presidents can’t suspend or defer the conditional cash transfer program.

“With the law institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] in place, the human capital development and the anti-poverty program is now insulated from executive whim and assured of sustained funding,” he said.

“Had Congress not passed this new law, any future president could easily suspend, defer or even discard the program altogether for any reason whatsoever, including possible lack of funding,” Campos said.

The House of Representatives has set aside P89.8 billion this year for the 4Ps, he said.

Campos is an ex-officio member of the House appropriations committee.

He said the money is allocated for P82 billion in cash incentives, including rice subsidy, to 4.4-million qualified poverty-stricken household-beneficiaries; P4.5 billion for personnel services; P1.6 billion for cost of service; P509 million for bank service fees; P432 million for monitoring and evaluation and spot checks; P393 million in administrative expenses, and P111 million for training. 

READ: Duterte lauded for signing institutionalized 4Ps bill into law

Topics: Ralph Recto , Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program , Rodrigo Duterte
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