GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 May) – The national government’s flagship conditional cash transfer program is seen to reach around 4.3 million household-beneficiaries by 2015, a year ahead of its original target.
Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Javier Jimenez said Thursday the program has so far served nearly four million “poorest of the poor” families or households in the country and efforts are underway for its expansion to around 300,000 more beneficiaries.
He said the initiative, which is also called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, is being implemented in 41,342 barangays of 144 cities and 14,483 municipalities in the country’s 80 provinces.
As of April 30 this year, he said it has benefited 1.69 million households in Luzon, 812,573 in Visayas and 1.48 million in Mindanao.
“That (4.3 million beneficiaries) was our target coverage until 2016 but we will be hitting it already by early next year,” he told MindaNews at the sidelines of the ongoing three-day 4Ps national media tour here organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Jimenez said the program’s coverage has rapidly expanded in the last four years due to its increasing allotment in the national budget.
From P12 billion in 2010, he said the government increased its budget for the 4Ps to P21.9 billion in 2011, P34 billion in 2012 and P45 billion in 2013.
For this year, he said 4Ps received an allotment of P62.6 billion out of the DSWD’s budget of P83.3 billion.
The official said that for next year, the agency has allotted some P78.5 billion for the program out of its proposed budget of P78.5 million.
“The additional budget will mainly cover for its expansion starting this year to households with children aged 15 to 18,” he said.
The 4Ps only used to cover households with children up to 14 years old but was expanded to the 15 to 18 age range to allow beneficiaries in the elementary level to continue their schooling until the high school.
The expansion of the coverage to age 18 complements with the implementation of the Department of Education’s K-12 program, which added another two years of studies for students in high school.
4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education.
The program provides beneficiaries cash grants of P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and P300 a month per child for educational expenses. A household with three qualified children could get P1,400 monthly.
In Region 12, the program has already served a total of 216,642 households as of April this year, according to DSWD-12 director Bau Zorahayda Taha.
In the last four months, Taha said the agency has released some P400.4 million cash grants to the beneficiaries, around 39,000 of whom belong to local tribes or indigenous peoples.