MANILA, Philippines – In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte spelled out how he would expand the government’s anti-poverty program.
Among the assistance Duterte specified in his speech on Monday, July 25, were:
- rice subsidies to the poorest farmers
- universal health for all Filipinos
- ensuring relocation sites for the poor
But one question remains: would Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program 4Ps continue under the current administration? (READ: Duterte’s first SONA: What marginalized sectors want to hear)
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that the families currently enrolled in the program need not worry because they will continue to be 4Ps beneficiaries.
However, Taguiwalo told Rappler in an interview: “The current members will be retained, but there wouldn’t be new members because we don’t have the budget for that.”
During the campaign, Duterte promised he would expand the program to include a livelihood component. But Taguiwalo said she has yet to review 4Ps and how it can eradicate poverty in the long run and cease to be a stop-gap measure.
“We are also looking at the reports – a number actually. [A] relatively big number has graduated already because their children have [finished] college,” she said.
Taguiwalo said they are looking into how they can support these program graduates so they “do not slide back to poverty” and become independent.
Duterte said in his speech that the government will work on strengthening labor-intensive industries – manufacturing, agriculture and tourism – that will provide jobs for the poor.
Taguiwalo said the fact that those handling the program are contractual workers pose a problem. There are currently 800 city and municipal links who monitor over 4 million beneficiaries nationwide.
“They are complaining the workload is quite heavy and most of the employees are contractual employees so that if we expand it, we are going to expand contractualization, we add to the workload,” she said. – Rappler.com