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WATCH: It’s a wrap: Dinky Soliman’s report card at DSWD

Voltaire Tupaz
WATCH: It’s a wrap: Dinky Soliman’s report card at DSWD

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'If there is one good thing that we can turn over to the new administration, it is evidence-based policy making, planning and evaluation,' says DSWD Secretary Corazon 'Dinky' Soliman

EASTERN SAMAR, Philippines – Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman wrapped up her stint at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at ground zero of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest typhoon that struck the country in recent history.

In Guiuan town in Eastern Samar,  Soliman refuted allegations that the DSWD failed to serve areas affected by Yolanda by showcasing major programs she believes would define her legacy.

Soliman inaugurated classrooms and the biggest rural health center in Yolanda-hit areas. The DSWD turned over to fisherfolk a boat garage that will protect the coastal community’s main tool for livelihood during typhoons.

Asked about the state of recovery in Eastern Visayas in a news briefing, Soliman said that rehabilitation efforts in the region are almost 90% complete. 

The memory that Soliman would like to leave behind is that the DSWD managed to turn an image of devastation and hopelessness into a showcase of the milestones of the Aquino administration’s anti-poverty programs.

She summarized the DSWD’s achievements as follows:

  • Enhanced effectiveness and efficiency of the bureaucracy 
  • Demand-driven expansion of programs
  • Quality disaster response
  • Sustainability of gains

4Ps perked up local economies 

Soliman’s claims are not without basis. The agency’s performance is well documented, and it is backed by studies.

“If there is one good thing that we can turn over to the new administration, it is evidence-based policy making, planning and evaluation,” Soliman said in a forum held on Wednesday, June 29, the day before she vacates the post she held under two administrations. 

She was referring to a study that revealed that the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Aquino government’s flagship poverty alleviation effort, has helped perk up local economies.

In Bicol for instance, the cash grants, along with the local government unit’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), created a multiplier effect in the local economy estimated to be 7.87 and 3.49 for the first and second income deciles, respectively. If continued, the program can potentially generate additional P18 billion to P40 billion revenues in the area.

“These findings reinforce that Pantawid Pamilya can transform not only the lives of its beneficiaries, but also the communities where they live,” Soliman noted.

This outcome of the program complements the Aquino administration’s macroeconomic legacy which aimed to promote inclusive growth.

Was it felt by the poor?

In terms of scale and reach, 4Ps has increased exponentially under the Aquino administration. From about 800,000 family-beneficiaries in 2010, the program’s coverage expanded to 4.4 million. It has also reached out to the homeless and indigenous peoples.

A household-beneficiary with 3 children can receive P1,400 ($30) a month or up to P15,000 ($331) a year if children are sent to school, visit health centers, and participate in family development sessions.

Impact evaluation has confirmed the program’s effectiveness in meeting its goals of keeping children healthy and in school. More than 93% of the household-beneficiaries comply with the requirements for receiving cash, well in excess of the 80% target, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“More Pantawid program mothers were seeking pre- and post-natal care and delivering babies in health facilities than mothers in non-program households. Child labor in program households was lower than in nonprogram households by an average of 7 days per month,” ADB noted.

The program also helped increase the enrollment rate of children 6 to 11 years old to 98%, the impact evaluation showed.

“After the grant increase for high school students, the enrollment rate for children aged 12-15 in poor households receiving the CCTs (Conditional Cash Transfer) was 6% points higher than for those in non-program households just above the poverty line,” ADB noted.

The 4Ps has also helped lift 1.5 million households from poverty since 2010, the latest government data showed. 

At least 5.5 million families or 28.7 million Filipinos are still identified as poor, based on the recently-launched Listahanan 2

Convergence and continuity

Despite these gains, DSWD admitted that nearly 68,000 family-beneficiaries among those lifted from poverty are still considered “vulnerable” or “transient poor.” They are at risk of reverting to poverty if an economic shock or a disaster occurs.

“Given the number of natural disasters that hit the country in recent years, the DSWD recognizes the need to extend assistance to these families to keep them from becoming poor again,” Soliman earlier said. 

Soliman is confident that the risk can be overcome if 4Ps is sustained and prioritized together with other “social protection” efforts like the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).

“The Department was able to harmonize the implementation of the core poverty reduction programs to more effectively reach and assist intended beneficiaries,” Soliman noted.

The Duterte administration will not have to address this challenge.

Many Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas wish that the Aquino administration’s poverty alleviation programs will be continued. 

Hirap na hirap kami bago mag-4Ps (Life was very, very difficult before 4Ps),” recalled Alangalang, Leyte resident Rita Bilason, whose family has been a 4Ps beneficiary since 2011.

The program helped her save money to invest in a small store and a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) to augment her family’s income that mainly comes from farming.

Bilason’s family will now graduate from the program, but she hopes that more families will benefit from it as well.

Sana po ipagpatuloy ang programang ito kasi marami pa po ang nangangailangan nito (I hope that the program will be continued because many people need it),” she said. – Rappler.com

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