GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 Oct) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 sees significant improvements in the next four years in the lives of beneficiaries in the region of the national government’s flagship conditional cash transfer program.
Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, said Monday such development was based on projections made by the agency in terms of the impact of the initiative, which is also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
She said they had envisioned that the full effect of the program will be felt 10 years after it was launched in 2008.
“We have recorded a lot of success stories in the region these past years as a result of the program and we expect more to shape up in the next four years,” Taha said.
DSWD-12 currently implements the initiative in the entire Region 12 and Marawi City in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Since its launching in the area six years ago, the agency has already served a total of 222,366 “poorest of the poor” households and released around P6.36 billion in cash grants.
Taha said they are currently expanding the implementation in the area of the program’s sustainable livelihood component to complement with the releases of the cash grants.
She said the move is aimed to help more beneficiaries eventually become self-sufficient and “graduate” from the program.
The official cited the case of Johnny Tolentino, a former 4Ps beneficiary in T’boli town in South Cotabato, who became a successful farmer-entrepreneur through the help of the program.
In 2009, she said Tolentino’s household was listed as among the “poorest of the poor” in T’boli town and subsequently became a 4Ps beneficiary.
Taha said the Tolentino family was barely surviving at that time due to the lack of stable livelihood and the cash grants they received helped send their children to school.
In 2011, she said the Tolentino patriarch received a major break when he qualified to avail of a P10,000 loan grant under the 4Ps sustainable livelihood component.
The family used the grant to finance the production of high-value vegetables out of a half-hectare farm owned by their neighbor, she said.
Taha said the Tolentinos earned an initial P300,000 in their first harvest consisting mainly of tomatoes and bell pepper and went on to become a top producer in the area.
“It’s not overnight drive but we have seen a lot of encouraging results so far,” said Taha, who expressed confidence over the program’s target to eventually help ease the poverty situation in the region.
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.
“We are sending the children to school until they finish high school. That’s our main goal and it is an investment in human capital. We want them to have a fighting chance to be a part of inclusive growth that the national government has been pursuing,” Taha said.
Finishing or getting proper basic education will help improve the chances of the beneficiaries in terms of getting into college or technical-vocational institution and getting employed later on, she said.
Taha added that the health grants or investments provided under the 4Ps are meant to ensure that the families of the beneficiaries get proper health services and their children remaining healthy and capable to finish their studies.