GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 July) — The national government has released a total of P6.36 billion in cash grants in the last three years to beneficiaries of its flagship conditional cash transfer program in Region 12 and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Bai Zorahayda Taha, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 12 director, said Monday such amount was released directly to 222,366 “poorest of the poor households” in the area that are covered by the initiative, which is also called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
She said the program is being implemented by DSWD-12 in 1,287 barangays in Region 12’s four provinces and five cities, and in Marawi City in the ARMM.
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 number of 4Ps beneficiaries in the area has increased by nearly 77,000 households in the last three years.
She said that from 145,421 households in January 2011, the number of beneficiaries rose to 202,851 in 2012 and 214,376 by the end of 2013.
In the last six months, she said they have enlisted a total of 19,515 more household-beneficiaries into the program as part of its continuing expansion.
The program presently serves a total of 75,015 households in North Cotabato; 43,079 in Sultan Kudarat; 40,261 in South Cotabato; 31,243 in Sarangani; 11,633 in Cotabato City; 11,620 in this city; and, 11,515 in Marawi City.
In terms of the released cash grants, the official said the figures increased by around P5 billion in the last three years.
In 2011, she said the agency released a total of P1.075 billon in health and education grants to active 4Ps beneficiaries in the area.
It increased to P1.683 billion in 2012 and P2.51 billion as of the end of 2013, she said.
In the last six months, she said they have so far released around P1.095 billion cash grants to the area’s beneficiaries.
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.
Taha said they will continue with the program’s expansion in the area this year based on the commitment made by the national government, specifically in the last state-of-the-nation addresses of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
She 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.
The validation of the eligible children under the expanded education component is currently ongoing, she said.
“We’re targeting to enroll around 75,000 more households in the next six months to meet our target of 297,862 beneficiaries for this year,” she added. (MindaNews)