House OKs on 2nd reading bill institutionalizing 4Ps

Mara Cepeda
House OKs on 2nd reading bill institutionalizing 4Ps

Photo by Martin San Diego/Rapple

House Bill No. 7773 would mandate the Department of Social Welfare and Development to implement the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program until it covers 60% of all extremely poor households nationwide

MANILA, Philippines – The bill seeking to institutionalize the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) was approved on second reading at the House of Representatives. 

Lawmakers gave their thumbs up to the House Bill (HB) No. 7773 through viva voce voting, or a vote of ayes and nays, on Tuesday, August 14. 

Should HB 7773 become a law, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would be mandated to implement the conditional cash transfer program every year. 

Funds would have to be allocated for 4Ps under the annual national budget until the program has covered 60% of the total number of “extremely poor households” in the country. 

The bill defines the poor as the households whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic Development Authority and “cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing, and other essential amenities in life.”

The DSWD would still be tasked to select qualified household-beneficiaries using a standardized targeting system, subject to revalidation every 3 years. Coverage under the program is valid for 5 years. (READ: Where in the PH are the Pantawid beneficiaries?)

Qualified households would be given P2,200 monthly for health and education expenses for a maximum of 3 children, or the equivalent of P26,400 for each qualified household-beneficiary every year. 

To get the cash assistance, household-beneficiaries must meet the following conditions:

  • Children aged 0 to 5 must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccinations.
  • Children aged 1 to 18 must avail of deworming pills at least twice a year.
  • Children aged 3 to 4 must attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85% of the school year.
  • Children aged 5 to 18 must attend elementary or secondary classes at least 85% of the school year.
  • Pregnant women must avail of pre- and post-natal care as well as give birth with the assistance of a trained health care professional in a health facility.
  • At least one “responsible person” must attend family development sessions conducted by DSWD at least once a month.
  • At least one “responsible person” must either complete at least two skills training programs recognized by the government or be engaged in livelihood activities.

DSWD would also be mandated to provide beneficaries with “directed and secured” access to cash grants to any authorized government depositary banks (AGDB), rural, thrift, or cooperative banks for localities not adequately served by AGDBs, or institutions engaged in money remittances duly accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 

4Ps is deemed the flagship anti-poverty program of former president Benigno Aquino III since the DSWD launched it on 2008.

But the program has long been under scrutiny because of the huge annual budget allocations and the alleged flaws in the roster of beneficiaries. (READ: FACT CHECK: How 4Ps funds are paid out to beneficiaries)

In May, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol proposed scrapping 4Ps as it supposedly makes beneficiaries overly dependent on grants. (READ: [OPINION] Scrapping 4Ps program doesn’t make sense

Piñol wants to divert funds to livelihood programs instead.

HB 7773 would still have to go through a 3rd and final reading to hurdle the House. It will then have to pass another 3 readings at the Senate before President Rodrigo Duterte may sign it into law. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.