Solon urges release of withheld 4Ps cash aid

September 23, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 114 views

A neophyte solon called for the immediate distribution of the cash grants for compliant Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries that were put on hold since last year by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) due to their questionable delisting process.

During the plenary deliberation of the proposed 2024 national budget, AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee sought clarification on whether the cash grants of the 1.1 million delisted families will be provided “retroactively” to all compliant beneficiaries affected by the sudden delisting.

“Ang gusto po nating linawin: For those compliant beneficiaries na na-hold, at na-assess whether as poor or non-poor, mababayaran po ba sila retroactively; maibibigay po ba ang kanilang cash grant from 2022 or from the last time na nabigyan sila ng cash grant up to ngayong 2023?” asked Lee.

“And from the time na na-re-assess sila na non-poor, bigyan dapat natin sila ng notice, 30 to 45 days, bago natin ihinto ang payout nila para naman makapaghanda sila at mabigyan ng sapat na transition bago maalis sa programa”.

House Committee on Appropriations vice chairperson Jocelyn Limkaichong, sponsor of the DSWD budget, confirmed on record that the agency will distribute the unobligated cash grants with a total of P68.2 billion to delisted compliant beneficiaries immediately after the ongoing assessment using the Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI) that will end this September.

Upon Lee’s questioning, DSWD also confirmed that the resumption of payout can start in October this year.

Lee reiterated the need to provide this grant at the soonest possible time because as time pass by, many families are suffering.

Lee also asked if the DSWD plans to increase the cash grant to 4Ps beneficiaries as recommended by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), which he had been pushing for the past several months.

“Napag-usapan na po ba sa National Advisory Council–kung saan ang DSWD ang lead agency–ang recommendation ng PIDS regarding the increase of cash grants ng 4Ps?” Lee pointed out.

“I ask this because the May 29, 2023 PIDS report revealed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, the P31,200 maximum amount that a 4Ps household can receive in a year had been reduced in value to only P14,524. Nabawasan ng kalahati yung value ng total cash grant na pwede matanggap ng isang beneficiary,” he explained.

Limkaichong shared that the NAC unanimously approved the PIDS recommendation, and that the Congress can put a special provision in the 2024 proposed budget to fund the increase under the unprogrammed funds since the said discussion came out after the National Expenditure Program was done.

According to Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11310 or the “4Ps Act”, the NAC shall ensure that the grant amounts are sufficient to make a positive impact on the health, nutrition, and education of the beneficiaries and are timely received and spent by the beneficiaries.