Antipoverty official seeks review of 4Ps
The government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program should be reviewed to avoid misuse and for potential inclusion of a livelihood component, the new head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) said on Wednesday.
Liza Maza, former Gabriela representative and recently appointed NAPC lead convenor, said that while she had been vocal against the CCT program, she was “constrained” by the pronouncement of President Duterte that the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) should be continued.
“We have to work within the space given to us. The NAPC could join the review and make recommendations on how to improve 4Ps,” Maza said during an interview with Inquirer editors and reporters.
Maza said one of the things that should be refined was how to safeguard the funds against patronage politics.
“It’s high time that we look into the impact of 4Ps. Does it really alleviate poverty? There are studies saying it doesn’t. There are many issues even in the implementation. There are cases wherein those who are really poor are not included because of politics,” Maza said.
The CCT program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was started under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and continued by President Benigno Aquino III.
The program provides a monthly stipend to poor families for the health and education of children up to 18 years old.
“Relying on subsistence or dole out will never be enough [to alleviate poverty],” Maza said.
A livelihood component could be developed and integrated in the program so that the beneficiaries will have sustainable income, she said, adding that she hoped the NAPC will have enough budget for prototyping or program modeling.
“This is what I’m really excited about. If NAPC will have the chance to model what can be done, there is possibility of strengthening agriculture, our own industry and manufacturing,” she said.
For example, a piece of land can be planted to coconuts and instead of just producing copra, a factory can be set up to manufacture virgin coconut oil or packaged coconut water.
“We will be able to produce higher value for the work of our farmers,” Maza said.
NAPC has a mandate for policy recommendation and oversight. It serves as platform for different sectors to engage the government and voice out their needs.
The contention with 4Ps is on how resources are being allocated, Maza said. “Are you going to put it in 4Ps or are you going to put it in educational reforms so that education is free?” she said when told about thousands who have graduated from high school through the help of the program.
“It’s not whether the program is successful because it produced graduates. It’s about you have P60 billion which could have been used to build 10 factories,” Maza said.