Rice to be part of 4Ps under Digong
ROSALES, Pangasinan—In five months, poor families receiving conditional cash transfer (CCT) grants from the government will also receive 40-kilogram rice bags, as promised by President Duterte in his State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Next year, 4.4 million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will get 20-kg rice bags monthly from the National Food Administration (NFA), as part of an improved CCT program of the Duterte administration, according to Hope Hervilla, assistant secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), on Tuesday.
But the additional benefit could cost the Duterte administration an additional P5.9 billion when 2016 ends and as much as P34.8 billion annually starting in 2017.
Critics of the CCT program describe the stipends as a government doleout that required the government this year to allocate P62.7 billion.
“It’s [the President’s] promise. He would fulfill it. Anyway, there is a presidential fund [which could be tapped for the new benefits],” said Hervilla at Tuesday’s inauguration and turnover of 150 core shelter assistance projects and day care centers here.
In his Sona, Mr. Duterte said his administration would “intensify its social protection programs so it can use its resources and expertise to make a dent in the country’s poverty levels.”
“The beneficiaries of 4Ps shall be made to become independent and self-reliant after they have graduated from the program. We aim to present them with other forms of assistance so they can stand on their own feet,” he said.
He said he had directed the DSWD to provide rice subsidies to poor families every month.
The government’s 4Ps program was first introduced in Abra province in 2009 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was continued by former President Benigno Aquino III.
It provided a P500 monthly stipend for poor families identified by a National Household Targeting System and P900 for the three children of beneficiary families who are in grade school and/or high school.
The government website said the CCT program was designed to provide “monetary support to extremely poor families to respond to their immediate needs” and to break “the inter-generational poverty cycle by investing in the health and education of poor children.”
In exchange for cash grants of up to P1,400, CCT beneficiary families must make sure that pregnant women and children aged 0 to 5 must undergo regular medical examinations and their children must attend classes regularly.
The beneficiaries are also required to attend family development sessions and must train to operate their preferred livelihood projects.
The additional rice subsidy directed by Mr. Duterte would be released through a voucher system being drawn up by DSWD, so beneficiaries could obtain their rice bags from NFA or commercial rice dealers, Hervilla said.
When asked, Hervilla said the expenses would reach “billions.” She did not elaborate.
However, NFA rice is sold at P33 per kg, which means the government may spend P1,320 for each CCT family in December or about P5.808 billion for all 4.4 million beneficiaries.
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