Press Release
January 30, 2019

4Ps bill prioritizes farmers, shuns epal politics and weaknesses of P.5 trillion program

The Senate-approved bill institutionalizing the state's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program carries provisions which "shield it from epal politics, prioritize farmers and fishermen, reward work equity, link it to livelihood programs," Sen. Ralph Recto said.

"This is not merely extending the program, but tweaking it so that targets are met, and wasteful spending avoided," Recto said.

Government spending for CCT from 2007-2019 is P564 billion, or more than half a trillion pesos, P91.2 billion of which were in foreign loans which will only be fully paid in 2040, he added.

Recto, the Senate President Pro Tempore, is the first in the Senate to file a bill giving the CCT a charter, having introduced the "4Ps Institutionalization Bill" in July 2013.

He said the bill the Senate passed on Tuesday "gathers best practices and lessons learned" from the past 10 years that the CCT, officially called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), has been implemented.

From 2007, when it was launched with a P50 million budget, the 4Ps annual spending has surged "176,213 percent" with this year's proposed allocation at P88 billion, dwarfing the budget of agencies like the DTI (P5 billion) and DOT (P3.3 billion).

"With this amount, we should make sure that the real poor are helped and the targets of the program met," Recto said, citing a COA report that 1.3 million covered households were "non-poor" and a World Bank finding of a 35 percent leakage rate.

He said the Senate bill carries his amendment prioritizing the farmers and fishermen in 4Ps enrolment. "Most of the 23.7 million poor are in this sector. The poverty incidence among farmers is 34.3 percent, while it is 34 percent for fishermen. These are higher than the latest poverty incidence figure of 21.6 percent."

"Pag binigay mo 'yan sa farm workers, at least may sweat equity 'yan kasi nagtratrabaho sila. At importante ang kanilang ginagawa - ang pakainin ang buong bayan. Kung tatamaan pa sila ng rice tariffication at climate change, tama lang na unahin sila sa social protection," Recto said

Another Recto amendment in the Senate-approved bill is linking 4Ps to livelihood and skills-training programs. "Hindi dapat dole out na naghihintay na lang ng allowance. Turuan dapat ng employment skills. This is not merely giving them fish, but teaching them how to fish."

Recto said his proposal to remove the limit on the number of children to qualify for the cash grants was also approved. "Yung maraming anak na mas lalong hirap sa buhay, hindi kasi naisasama sa ngayon."

He said that under the bill, 4Ps "advisory councils" will now be formed only at the regional and national levels to remove "opportunities for local politicking."

Recto said the CCT "must have a charter" so it can continue despite scheduled changes in the national leadership.

"We are witness to how good programs in the past were jettisoned when the new order came along. What we can't predict is that those who are swept to power will not immediately sweep away good programs," Recto said.

"In the case of the CCT, two tendencies must be avoided," Recto said. "The first is to emasculate it that it becomes ineffective. The other is to expand it tremendously that it becomes financially unsustainable."

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