Senate cuts DSWD media budget so funds go to poor families

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Senator Ralph Recto's amendment to the 2014 budget law transfers P101 million from DSWD's publicity allotment to the conditional cash transfer program

DIFFICULT LIVES. Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroys this coastal barangay in Tacloban City, Leyte. Photo by Vincent Go

MANILA, Philippines – What do you get when you slash the public relations budget of the social welfare department? 

You can have 100,000 more individuals – or 20,000 families – receiving benefits under the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

This is what Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto aimed to achieve when he introduced an amendment to the 2014 General Appropriations Act or the national budget to reduce the administrative expenses of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Some P336 million ($7.5 million) was taken from the 4Ps’ administrative overhead of P5.41 billion ($121.2 million) and transferred to the program’s cash grant component. 

“Specifically, what was reduced were the budget for publicity, from P141 million ($3.16 million) to P40 million (around $900,000), and the budget for training, from P533 million ($11.9 million) to P218 million ($4.9 million), and the cuts were mainly used to accommodate more 4Ps beneficiaries,” Recto said in a press release on Saturday, March 1.

As a result, the cash grant component of the program’s budget increased from P57.2 billion (or $1.28 billion) to P57.57 billion (or $1.29 billion).

‘Relief should not be temporary’

The 20,000 additional families will receive P1,400 (around $31) every month, or a total of P16,800 (around $376) this year, provided that they comply with certain conditions, like the regular attendance of their children in school.

Including the administrative overhead of P5.03 billion ($113 million), the total budget of 4Ps for 2014 is P62.2 billion ($1.39 billion), which benefits 4,461,732 households under the regular 4Ps program.

In addition, 4.3 million high school students, each receiving a monthly spend of P500 (around $11), will be enrolled in the “extended CCT” program.

“Calamity victims should not live from one relief bag to another. One of the best forms of aid is the 4Ps because it is predictable, guaranteed and sustained. ‘Yan ang tunay na pantawid, hindi pansamantala o panandalian (That’s real relief, not temporary or short-term.),” said Recto.

Recto thanked Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senate finance committee head Senator Francis Escudero for “accepting and defending this and other calamity rehabilitation amendments” which were included in the 2014 national budget. – Michael Bueza/

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