Sen. Imee accountable to the people for slashing 4Ps budget by P13B – Acidre

February 22, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 112 views

DEPUTY Majority Leader and Tingog Partylist Rep. Jude Acidre on Thursday said Sen. Imee Marcos should be accountable to her constituents for being responsible for the slashing of the 2023 budget intended for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by P13 billion.

The budget realignment was admitted by Sen. Marcos in a press statement, and has deprived nearly 900,000 families or 4.3 million individuals of aid under the 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“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,” he added.

In a recent statement, Sen. Marcos made an admission of recommending some P8 billion in 4Ps funding be realigned to other DSWD programs such as the supplemental feeding, KALAHI-CIDSS, Quick Response Fund for disasters, 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 the statement released to media.

Acidre said Sen. Marcos may have forgotten that the 4Ps Program is not just a program of the government, it is in the law contained in 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 Tingog representative said.

“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.

It was Ako Bicol Rep. Jil Bongalon, a vice chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, who revealed that nearly 900,000 households or 4.3 million Filipinos who are among the ‘poorest of the poor’ did not receive cash grants totaling P13 billion from the 4Ps Program after Sen. Marcos redirected these funds to other social amelioration programs.

“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.

“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,” he added.

He revealed that the P13 billion budget realignment may be 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 said.