DSWD chief urges support, vigilance in 4Ps project

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/03 July) — Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman on Sunday appealed for continued public support to the controversial 4Ps poverty-reduction project of the national government.

At the same time, Soliman asked for vigilance so that only deserving beneficiaries could avail of the 4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also known as the conditional cash transfer program.

“Let’s help the 4Ps program. Give us feedback if you smell something fishy about the project,” she said in Filipino in a radio program of the DSWD regional office here.

Soliman claimed the 4Ps program has been instrumental in bringing down the incidence of hunger in the country, citing a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

Results of a June 3-6 poll made exclusive to BusinessWorld showed the proportion of families that experienced involuntary hunger at 15.1%, equivalent to three million families. This was 5.4 points down from March’s 20.5% or an estimated 4.1 million families.

Aside from the 4Ps, which is administered by the DSWD, Soliman cited its rice subsidy project and the Pantawid Pasada program of the Department of Interior and Local Government in bringing down the number of hungry families.

Soliman said the Aquino administration “has been working hard” to improve the plight of poor families in the country through anti-poverty projects such as the 4Ps, which has been tainted by some unscrupulous persons.

In May, she said, at least 47,000 individuals were delisted after they were found to be bogus beneficiaries. She blamed the glitch to “inclusion errors.”

“The enumerators included in the list those who were not qualified,” she told reporters then in Aleosan, North Cotabato while launching a food-for-work scheme along side the United Nations World Food Programme.

Some of the beneficiaries of 4Ps that should not have been included were reportedly teachers and barangay officials and their relatives, who even own appliances like television sets , and are clearly not among the “poorest of the poor.”

Under the 4Ps, a recipient family monthly receives P1,400 to P5,000 for health care assistance and P300 each for up to three children or P900 for educational assistance.

Also known as the controversial conditional cash transfer, which critics described as a dole-out, Soliman said that out of the 1.6 million target beneficiaries nationwide, 1.3 million individuals have been served as of the end of March.

Of those already availing the4Ps, 600,000 have been issued automated teller machine (ATM) cards from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Those who have no ATM cards could withdraw the money from over-the-counter of LBP branches, and in places where there are no LBP branches, she said they are trying to bring the bank’s services offsite.

The 4Ps is an ongoing conditional cash transfer program for the “poorest of the poor” residents that started in 2008 under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Under the 4Ps, the country’s poorest families were given monthly cash incentives for as long as they send their children to school and pregnant mothers go for regular check-ups in public health centers.

The World Bank is partly funding the program reportedly with a loan of $405 million to the government approved in 2009. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)