February 23, 2024 People's Journal 85 views

Acidre: Senator Imee must be held responsible for her decision to slash P13B funds for 4Ps

DEPUTY Majority Leader Tingog Party-list Representative Jude Acidre wanted Senator Imee Marcos to explain and be held responsible for her decision to slash the 2023 budget intended for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by P13 billion.

Acidre made the statement after Senator Marcos admitted that she recommended the budget realignment for the 4Ps fund under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which deprived nearly 900,000 families o 4.3 million individuals of aid.

“Ang tanong d’yan kung tinanggal ‘yan, I don’t think the accountability of Sen. Marcos is simply by admitting that she was the one who removed that from the budget during the bicam. I think her accountability to her constituents is to also explain to them, ‘where did the money go,’” Acidre said in response to a reporter’s question during a press briefing at the House of Representatives.

“Because this is not just a simple program, this is not (just) a project of the government. The 4Ps is the law, and as a law, we (as lawmakers) are duty-bound to implement it,” the lawmaker added.

Earlier, Sen. Marcos admitted that she recommended for the realignment of some P8 billion in 4Ps funding to other DSWD programs, such as supplemental feeding, KALAHI-CIDSS, Quick Response Fund para sa mga kalamidad, and AICS during the deliberations of the 2023 national budget in 2022.

“The P5-billion AICS reduction, on the other hand, occurred after I had recommended the amount in the Senate version, but the bicameral removed it for lack of fiscal space post-Covid. Those two amounts – P8 billion plus P5 billion – are perhaps what some befuddled members are referring to,” Sen. Marcos said in a statement.

According to Acidre, the senator may have forgotten that the 4Ps Program is not just a program of the government, but is contained under Republic Act (RA) No. 11310 or the 4Ps Act.

“I think the good senator has also forgotten that 4Ps is not just a program of government. It is actually a law. In fact, sa implementation ng batas, ‘yun ‘yung may stages ng Listahanan 1, Listahanan 2. Hindi po ito arbitary (action) ng DSWD na gusto lang magkaroon ng 4Ps,” the lawmaker.

“Ito po ay ipinagkaloob sa mamamayan sa isang batas, na kami po bilang mga mambabatas, ay sana ho naisip namin na kailangan nating ipatupad, lalong-lalo na kung ang isang batas ay may layunin na pagandahin o magkaroon naman ng konting ginhawa ang ating mga kababayan,” Acidre said.

Prior to this, Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Jil Bongalon, vice chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, revealed that nearly 900,000 families or 4.3 million Filipinos who are among the ‘poorest of the poor,’ did not receive cash grants after the budget realignment ordered by Sen. Imee.

“If we do the math, P13-billion divided by P15,000 per household per year, means 867,000 families or 4.3-million poor individuals got zero cash assistance from the DSWD’s 4Ps program last year, thanks to Sen. Imee,” Bongalon said.

The lawmaker added, “As vice chair of the Committee on Appropriations, I learned that it was Sen. Marcos – as head of the Senate finance sub-committee in charge of DSWD’s budget – who slashed P13-billion from the 4Ps budget. This left the most vulnerable sectors without financial aid last year, possibly until the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) receives its 2024 budget.”

Bongalon also said there is a possibility that the said P13 billion budget realignment is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

“I understand that Sen. Imee has been realigning significant portions of the 4Ps budget every year since 2021 but we’re still compiling the data,” Bongalon added.