House OKs on 2nd reading bill institutionalizing 4Ps

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:

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

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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