10,000 families added to 4Ps in R-12, ARMM

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 June) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has enlisted in the last three months around 10,000 more poor households in Region 12 and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer program.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD-Region 12 director, said Monday the program has so far served a total of 213,023 “poorest of the poor” households in the area and expansions are ongoing to cover more beneficiaries in the coming months.

“We’re targeting to enlist around 1,000 more families for our next batch in the next two months,” Taha said in a statement.

DSWD-12 earlier reported that the program has served some 202,851 beneficiaries as of the end of February.

Also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, the program is being implemented by DSWD-12 in parts of 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 agency has already released nearly P3 billion in cash grants to the program’s beneficiaries in Region 12 and in Marawi City in the last five years.

She said the released cash grants was up by around P500 million based on its total disbursements as of the end of 2012.

Taha said the program’s expansion this year focuses on families of “children in need of special protection” and other marginalized sectors in the area.

In Region 12, she said its beneficiaries presently include families of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

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 particularly of children aged 0-14 years.

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.

Taha said based on the results of a recent evaluation conducted by the World Bank, which provides financial support to the program, the 4Ps has remained on track in terms of meeting its goals of “keeping children healthy and in school.”

“The World Bank’s findings showed that children of 4Ps beneficiaries are enrolling and attending schools and have improved health conditions due to regular visits to health stations,” she said.

She said pregnant mothers that were covered by the program have been also getting proper care. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)