GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 June) – Around 3,600 more poor households in Region 12 and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were enlisted in the last five months by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer program.
Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, said Wednesday the program has so far served a total of 216,642 “poorest of poor” households in the area and expansions are ongoing to cover more beneficiaries in the coming months.
“We’re currently validating around 37,000 potential household-beneficiaries under our expansion programs,” she said.
As of the end of 2013, the DSWD-12 listed a total of 213,023 active household-beneficiaries under the program, which is also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
The initiative is being implemented by DSWD-12 in the entire Region 12 and in Marawi City in the ARMM since 2008.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Kidapawan and Tacurong.
Taha said the program specifically covers 30,473 households in Sarangani; 39,508 in South Cotabato; 41,937 in Sultan Kudarat; 70,224 in North Cotabato; 11,446 in this city; 11,539 in Cotabato City; and, 11,515 in Marawi City.
She said they already released around P4.47 billion in cash grants to the beneficiaries in the last six years.
The official said some P2.2 billion was disbursed under the program’s education component and P2.27 billion under the health component.
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.
The 4Ps only used to cover households with children up to age 14 but it was expanded up to age 18 starting this year to allow beneficiaries in the elementary level to continue their schooling until high school.
For the program’s expansion, Taha said they have identified a total of 93,984 households that are eligible under the extension of the grant’s coverage to children within the 14 to 18 age bracket.
She said the validation of the eligible children under the expanded education component is currently ongoing.
“We already validated about 85 percent of our target beneficiaries and we’re working double time to complete before the end of the month,” she added.