THE BILL institutionalizing the government’s conditional cash transfer program has been reported out to the plenary for approval in the Senate.
The Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development is recommending the passage of Senate Bill No. 2117 or the proposed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act.
The bill describes 4Ps as “the national poverty reduction strategy program” as well as “a human capital investment program” that will span a maximum period of seven years to improve the health and education of the country’s poorest families.
Under the proposed measure, families are given educational and health cash grants monthly. Educational cash grants are given for a 10-month period yearly, depending on the number of children and their level of educational attainment. The program provides at least P300 monthly per child enrolled in day care and elementary school, at least P500 monthly per child enrolled in junior high school, and P700 monthly per child enrolled in senior high school.
As for the health and nutrition cash grant, at least P750 monthly for a 12-month period is distributed to beneficiaries.
The bill also provides the following conditions that beneficiaries must comply with for continued cash transfers under the program:

• pregnant women must avail of health services during the pregnancy as well as give birth in a health facility attended by a skilled health professional

• children under five years old must receive regular preventive health and nutrition services

• children one to 14 years old must avail of deworming pills at least twice a year

• children three to four years old must maintain an 85% attendance in day care or pre-school classes

• children five to 18 years old must maintain an 85% attendance in elementary or secondary classes

• at least one responsible person in the family must attend family development sessions conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at least once a month

Beneficiaries of the program are also covered in the government’s national health insurance program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). Funding from their health coverage will be covered by revenue from sin taxes. They can also avail of livelihood and skills training programs of the DSWD and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
DSWD serves as the central planning agency of the program. It will select the qualified 4Ps beneficiaries using a standardized targeting system.
The amounts granted will be available to beneficiaries during the first three years of the program’s implementation. Adjustments in the rates can be made by the President, upon the recommendation of the National Advisory Council (NAC).
The NAC is composed of representatives from the DSWD, Department of Health (DoH), Department of Education (DepEd), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), National Nutrition Council (NNC), Population Commission (PopCom), Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), and two representatives from accredited nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Advisory Councils are also to be created in the city or municipal, provincial, and regional levels. They are tasked to promote coordination among agencies in the implementation of the program, promulgate a grievance redress system, and review assessment reports regarding the program.
The DSWD is also mandated to provide an annual report of the 4Ps program.
The bill was sponsored to the plenary by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, vice chairperson of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development, in place of committee chair Senator Leila M. de Lima who remains in detention.
“The 4Ps Act, if enacted, can be a transformative program that will improve the lives of not only the 4.4 million beneficiaries across the country it currently serves, but the remaining fraction of the poor families we wish to be covered in the coming years,” Mr. Trillanes said in his sponsorship speech.
“The institutionalization of this program through this measure will ensure its sustained implementation and continued insulation from political patronage that can weaken its impact,” he added. — Camille A. Aguinaldo