DAVAO CITY – Infrastructure development is a crucial component of social protection intervention particularly the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Luzviminda C. Ilagan shared this findings during the recently held Mindanao-Visayas Feedback Forum on the United Nations Commission on Status of Women held at the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU).

She referred this as one of the concerns that emerged in the session among women who attended the Bangkok Conference on Women, that was relayed during the March conference of the UN Conference on the Status of Women (UNCSW63) in New York.

Kasi lumabas sa sharing (It came out during the sharing) of other countries that no matter how good the social protection is, if we do not have the infrastructure to support the program, to support the providers of the benefits, ma-failure din siya (it would still be a failure),” she said.

Citing as specific instance the 4Ps beneficiaries who, she noted, would not be able to line up during cash-out schedules if there would be no good roads and transportation means to take them to town centers where 4Ps cash grants are usually handed out by DSWD with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

She also cited instances where presence of Land Bank and other support agencies are needed in isolated far-flung areas.  In these cases, she noted that roads and bridges are crucial to the status of accessibility to the area where 4Ps beneficiaries converge expecting their cash grants.

“Social protection with the policy intentions, goals in place, should be assisted also by infrastructure; Dapat matutukan para ma-access (there has to be focus on this to access) and it is not only access but also accessibility,” she told participants to the feedback conference done to keep the women in the Visayas and Mindanao abreast of the issues and concerns raised, and commitments made by the Philippine delegation to the New York UN Conference on the Status of Women.

Ilagan was also concerned about DSWD service providers sent to far-flung and isolated areas who have to ride on a single motor called “habal-habal”.  Aside from facing possibilities of road accidents, they also are prone to threats of getting waylaid and robbed, she said.

In her presentation to the plenary on Social Protection during the New York UN CSW63, she described 4Ps as the flagship social protection intervention in the Philippines which “provides short-term income support to the poor and breaks the cycle of inter-generational poverty through investments in health and education.”

Though not totally directed at women, 87% of the 4.2 million 4Ps grantees are women who are seen to substantially benefit from efforts to promote women empowerment and gender equality through the 4Ps Family Development Session, Ilagan noted.

“The program’s spread to critical mass of women has a big potential for it to become a platform to reduce incidence of violence against women; present mechanisms to check the existence of gender-based violence within households,” she said in her talk during the UN CSW63.  (PIA XI)