65,000 families in ARMM, other Mindanao regions to be included in 4Ps

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 November) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is working for the inclusion before yearend of around 65,000 more families from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other parts of Mindanao in the national government’s conditional cash transfer program.

Soliman Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the agency has stepped up the registration process for the new beneficiaries of the anti-poverty initiative, which is also known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, in the ARMM and other neighboring regions in a bid to meet the program’s target enlistment of 1.3 million additional families for this year.

She said the additional 4Ps beneficiaries from the ARMM will come from areas that were affected by the recent floods and armed conflicts.

“The (registration) lag is mainly in the ARMM but the assemblies and registration for the additional beneficiaries there are presently ongoing and we’re hoping to complete the process within this month or the next,” Soliman said in a consultation with the media on the implementation of the 4Ps.

Based on the program’s latest accomplishment report, the DSWD has already enlisted 1,188,576 households as new beneficiaries as of end-October out of its targeted 1,303,810 households for this year.

Since the introduction of 4Ps in 2008, it has so far covered 2,232,839 household-beneficiaries or 95.45 percent of its targeted 2,339,241 households by the end of the year.

Mindanao’s six regions comprised the bulk of the beneficiaries with 1,086,280 or 48.65 percent followed by Luzon with 669,575 households or 29.99 percent and Visayas with 476,984 or 21.36 percent.

4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14 years.

It is one of the responses of the Philippine government to the challenge of meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

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.

Meantime, Soliman said they also intensified the review and verification of the program’s beneficiaries to cleanse it of unqualified ones.

She said they have already delisted around 162,000 households who were erroneously listed as beneficiaries based on the results of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) survey earlier conducted by the agency.

Soliman admitted that the NHTS-PR still has “inclusion errors” that were committed by enumerators hired by the agency for the survey.

“We’re continually cleaning up our database based on the complaints that we receive through our hotline 0918-9122813 and reports filed in our field offices,” Soliman said.

For the third quarter of the year, she noted that the DSWD processed a total of 1,399 complaints and resolved 404 of them.

“We’ve been getting numerous complaints. Our hotline alone receives an average of 500 text messages on a daily basis and it takes about a month to process them all,” she said.

But overall, Soliman said they consider the results of the survey as satisfactory and that the uncovered inclusion errors were only minimal.

“This is not a perfect system. It has some errors but it’s not at the 20 or 30 percent level. We have delisted less than 10 percent of the beneficiaries so far so I think the system is working quite well,” she added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)