The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) lauded the signing into law of Republic Act 11310 institutionalizing the government’s flagship poverty reduction program known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
4Ps is an investment in human capital which seeks to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by focusing on education and health of the beneficiaries. It provides conditional cash transfer to poor households around the country, It is being implemented by DSWD, in partnership with other government agencies, such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), and Commission on Higher Education (CHED), among others.
DSWD emphasized that the signing of the law is the realization of the long time clamor of beneficiaries to make the program regular and permanent. It can be recalled that beneficiaries have continuously expressed apprehensions that the benefits they are receiving from 4Ps might be stopped if the program will not be institutionalized. It is also important to mention that they played a role in achieving this feat by lobbying for the institutionalization of the program.
The Department added that with RA 11310, the continuity and sustainability of the program can be assured. The law makes the program more robust by prioritizing farmers and fisher folks, strengthening livelihood and employment opportunities for beneficiaries, ensuring civil society organizations’ seats in the advising councils, and providing automatic coverage to Philhealth.
The Department also stated that the law will further boost its goal of helping poor families achieve a better quality of life, thereby, contributing to the reduction of poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022, as set by the present administration.
Since its inception in 2008, 4Ps has achieved several milestones in the areas of poverty reduction, health, and education.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), in its launch of the 2015 Official Poverty Statistics said, “One of the major factors in this improvement of poverty reduction is the increased budget in government’s social development programs, which significantly augmented the income of the poorest households… The regularity of the cash transfer sustained for three years for many CCT beneficiaries has accorded them some resiliency to weather certain shocks. The program also induced more economic activity in the poor barangays given the presence of a cash economy. These conditions may have also encouraged a number of them to diversify their livelihood sources.”
Moreover, in its 2017 Socio-Economic Report, NEDA stated that, “By far, the most comprehensive program to address […] vulnerability is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). This program needs to be sustained and even enhanced.”
Furthermore, the World Bank in its 2018 assessment of poverty in the Philippines (Making Growth Work for the Poor) reported that “transfers from government social programs [CCT] contributed about 25 percent of the [reduction in poverty incidence between 2006 and 2015.”]
Likewise, impact evaluations on the program done and completed in 2012 and 2014 showed that the program can break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, helping poor families escape the poverty trap of being poor because they have no decent jobs or undereducated and sickly.
Based on the two impact studies, the program had positive effects on education and health of children and pregnant women.
The studies showed that program beneficiaries have higher enrolment and attendance rates and lower drop-outs as compared to non-beneficiaries.
As regards health, children-beneficiaries have increased availment of basic health services and reduced severe stunting especially to children from 6 months to 3 years old.
The impact studies also showed that more pregnant women availed of maternal health services and an increased delivery in accredited birthing facilities, as compared to those who are not covered by the program.
Meanwhile, since 2015, the program has paved the way for almost 1 million children-beneficiaries to compete high school and more than 30,000 to graduate from college.
As of March 31, 2019, the program covers 41,552 barangays in all 145 cities and 1,483 municipalities in 80 provinces nationwide with 4.18 million active households. -30-