CCT will continue to achieve goal of improving lives of poor Filipinos

MANILA – In line with its mandate to provide safety nets to the poor Filipinos confronted with poverty, the DSWD continues to double its efforts to cover more beneficiaries under its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

The 4Ps is the flagship poverty alleviation program of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, through the DSWD, which aims to sustain the momentum of reform, establish inclusive economic growth for the country, and elevate the quality of life of every Filipino.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman has said “at the core of Pantawid Pamilya are its empowerment goals for beneficiaries to demand for (sic) the provision of basic social services from the government.”

The program empowers the beneficiaries to fulfill their inherent rights as citizens and demand the government deliver its duty to provide basic social services on health and education.

Through this, authorities are optimistic that all sectors of the Philippine population will experience the benefits all sectors will get from a continuing economic growth.

Pantawid Pamilya is anchored on empowering strategies and program design for those who have long been deprived of equal opportunity, according to Soliman.

President Aquino, in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2012, said the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program had served about 3 million poor Filipino families.

He said, it was five times higher than when he started his term as president in 2010 and promised to lift up the conditions of the poor.

Aquino was happy to note in his Sona that under the program, about 1,672,977 million mothers have undergone regular check-up.

Some 1,672,814 million children were de-wormed and provided with immunization against diarrhea, polio, measles and other illness.

About 4.57 million children were able to go to school as they have enough foods to eat and study well.

He expressed optimism the program would be covering about 3.8 million families by the year 2013 and continue to increase to reach more beneficiaries.

According to Soliman, as of May 29, 2013, the 4Ps is being implemented in 1,627 cities and municipalities in 79 provinces in all 17 regions.

As of now, 3,912,718 households are enrolled in the program, exceeding the target of 3,809,769 for 2013.

Of the total, 41.75 percent or 1,633,712 come from Luzon while 37.81 percent or 1,479,399 and 20.44 percent or 799, 607 are from Mindanao and the Visayas, respectively.

About 7.2 million children are 4Ps beneficiaries out of the 21 million that trooped to schools during the opening of classes on June 3, according to data from DSWD.

Soliman explained the CCT, as a poverty-alleviation program, will continue to serve and reach out to the poor to attain the long-term goal of empowering them by making them healthy and equipped with education they need.

“Having received immunization, the chance of getting polio, measles and other dreadful illnesses that may hamper their potential growth and affect their productivity in the future is being lessened,” Soliman said. For this year, the DSWD is working to include in the list of 4Ps beneficiaries some 249,000 solo parents, 201,000 persons with disabilities, 360,000 indigenous people and about 95,000 street or “kariton” dwellers.

Recently, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad made an assurance the budget for CCT will continue to increase, until hopefully about 4.6 million Filipino poor families will benefit from the program by 2015.

For 2013, about P44 billion from the national budget was allocated for CCT for poverty reduction and as a help for the poor to attain the long-term goal productivity, self-reliance and empowerment.

The increased budget means continuous support for the program which the President really wants.

The 4Ps of CCT serves as a bridge of hope for the poor to leap up to higher life conditions and eventually enjoy the fruit of the path of straight governance in line with the president’s vision “that no one is left behind.”

Today, there are proposals to extend the CCT program to a certain number of years to ensure the children of household beneficiaries finish high school.

Under the new K-12 program, high school now takes six years to finish from the previous four years while in elementary the children are required to enroll in kinder before they can be admitted to grade 1.

4Ps as a poverty-reduction program of DSWD

4Ps is a poverty reduction strategy that provides cash grants to extremely poor households with the intention to improve their health, nutrition and education.

It is an investment for the future of children who will soon be the work force and future contributors of the country towards economic development

Under the program, each household beneficiary of 4Ps is entitled to receive a monthly health cash grant of P500 (P6,000 a year) over five years.

As an education grant, P300 is given for each child for 10 months during the academic school year. A maximum of three children are entitled to receive the amount.

Thus, a household of “Juan dela Cruz” with three eligible children can receive as much as P900 plus P500 health grant or a total P1,400 a month, provided they continue to comply with the conditions to follow.

Conditionalities that 4Ps beneficiaries need to follow

They need to follow the following:

For pregnant household members (mothers), they should visit their local health center to avail themselves of pre-natal care for every trimester of pregnancy, avail themselves of appropriate delivery services of skilled health professional and avail themselves of at least one post-natal care with 6 weeks after child birth.

For children 0-5 years old, they should visit the health center to avail themselves of immunization, have monthly weight monitoring and nutrition counseling center.

For children 6-14 years old, they must receive deworming pills twice a year.

For children 3-5 years old, they should be enrolled in day care center and maintain class attendance of at least 85% per month;

And for children 6-14 years old, they should be enrolled in elementary and secondary school and maintain also at least 85% class attendance per month.

Aside from that, the parent-beneficiary should attend the once-a-month family development session like parenting session, mother’s classes on health and nutrition.

These requirements aim to create awareness on the importance of health and education among the beneficiaries.

These are big step towards improvement in their lives as they learn the value of maintaining good health, nutrition and education which will be their keys to leap to their dream of achieving higher status in life.

It is their gateway to break-away from the chain of poverty that had tied their previous family members for a long time.

“It is important that the household-beneficiaries stay in the program by continuing to comply with its conditions, otherwise they will be removed as beneficiaries. We do not want them to waste the opportunity to have proper education, improved health and better quality of life,” Soliman explained.

Through the Land Bank cash card, G-cash remit and other conduits, they (beneficiaries) receive their grant which is released every 2 months.

Assistance is given in cash because it empowers and gives families (especially the mother) not only in keeping them healthy but also the flexibility to choose how to use the money based on their needs.

It teaches them to budget and manage the money wisely and have the initiative to do worthwhile activities where there will be opportunity for them to gain potential income as they can focus on other concerns like finding opportunity in improving their life conditions.

The mothers who receive the grants are given the economic power to decide on how to manage the cash grants they receive in purchasing food and other necessities such as medicines, school supplies, transportation to and from school and others.

The parents or recipients of 4Ps are usually those who obviously and unfortunately did not acquire higher degree of learning because of poverty.

Having poor parents before, who did not prioritize giving them education, makes the cycle of poverty repetitive for them, which the DSWD is addressing to help stop by giving their children through the 4Ps some chance to have “better lives and future.”

“Children are the primary focus in the program because through investment in education and health, their capabilities are enhanced, to allow them to become more competitive in the future, and possess a better chance in life,” said Soliman.

Investment on child education and nutrition is the primary goal under the program because from those children that will benefit most under the program lie the chance to be potential future active workers, and even good leaders that will serve as an instrument in eventually freeing their family from the poverty.

“Just because a child’s parents were poor or uneducated is no reason to deprive the child of basic human rights to health care, education and proper nutrition,” Soliman added.

In other words, the program helps the poor families by giving them opportunity for the advancement of their young children to break the vicious cycle of poverty transmission from generation to generation.

The long term goal is achieving and increasing employment opportunities for them to eventually be instrument in lifting their families out of poverty and thus end poverty as an end goal which can be felt many years from now.

The children under the program can be more effective workers and leaders working for the betterment of the country if they are healthy enough and enriched with knowledge that can serve as their tool to achieve higher degree of learning and soar higher to grounds for growth.

The program also contributes to the attainment of the five major Millennium Development Goals namely:

(1) Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; (2) achieve universal primary education (3) promote gender equality and empowering women; (4) reduce child mortality and (5) improve maternal health.

The beneficiaries are selected and assessed by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction based on the listing provided under the National Statistical Coordination Board.

Preparation of 4Ps to be self-reliant

To sustain and expand the socio-economic benefits gained by the 4Ps, the Sustainable Livelihood Program is also being provided for 4P’s beneficiaries.

The objective is to provide them (beneficiaries) sustainable income as a preparation to be productive even after they exited from the 4Ps after 5 years since their inclusion in the program.

The trainings from the livelihood programs where the mother beneficiaries are given chances of learning some skills open a doors for them to earn additional income.

The skills they learn from livelihood programs will help them engage in possible income opportunities.

As they emerge to be small scale entrepreneurs, they are also given the chance to group themselves together and acquire loan as much as P10,000.00 each with no collateral and interest that they pay as group for a period of 2 years under the Self Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran programs also being implemented by DSWD.

As of March 2013, a total 117,388 beneficiaries were provided with capital seed fund amounting to P912,864,516.00.

From this amount, 19,064 beneficiaries were served from January 2013 to March 2013 amounting to P159,664,527.00.

From January 2013 to March 2013 also, a total of 24,554 beneficiaries were referred to and funded by Micro Financing Institution and other formal lending institutions.

For the critics of the program who said it encourages mendicancy or a dole-out, the DSWD explained the grant per household is only to augment a family’s income.

It is not sufficient for family’s survival, thus, household cannot solely rely on the cash grant and still needs to find resources to support the family.

“Some of the beneficiaries of 4Ps are hardworking farmers, fishermen, vendors or sellers with very small source of income who just needs opportunities to earn,”according to Soliman.

Some of them cannot really provide much for the health and education of their children because of very limited income who would rather choose that they have food to eat instead of sending their children to school which the DSWD is addressing through the 4Ps in order to prove that there are ways to fight poverty.

As they receive cash grants from the program, the chances of their children attaining education and good health are assured.

They (parents) can in turn make the necessary preparation once they exit from the program or the “cash support” stops.

Convergence Strategies for them

The need for collaborative efforts in assuring the beneficiaries are given with enough opportunities, employment are also being given through the support of some government agencies who hired some beneficiaries of 4Ps.

Some of them are also provided with employment linkages with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform and other government agencies.

From the 4,634 hired as of March 2013, 4,433 are employed under the “Trabahong Lansangan Program” of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Among the jobs made available for them are landslide maintenance, in-road maintenance, de-clogging of drainage laterals and street sweeping.

The DSWD also partnered with Technical and Education Skills Development Authority to allow some youths and even unemployed parents who also belong to 4P’s beneficiaries to acquire training and skills development that they can use in hunting for job opportunities.

As another support for them, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services is also being implemented to support community projects that can be an important means to strengthen community social capital.

Under KALAHI-CIDDSS program, the poor communities are asked to identify the projects that they needed in the community that can spur their productivity and empowerment.

Once they identify their need or project, they will all work together to achieve it with assistance funds from DSWD.

With the convergence of 4Ps with KALAHI-CIDSS, SLP, other government agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations and many others assure that the poor can eventually elevate themselves to an improved life and be transformed from seeking subsistence into self-reliant and productive members of the society. (PNA)

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