Taguiwalo: 4Ps not anti-poverty, just stop-gap
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Tuesday said her department may seek a smaller budget in the coming years as they were studying whether or not to continue the previous administration’s conditional cash transfer program, which she said was not an anti-poverty measure but a mere “stop-gap” solution.
In an INQ&A interview, Taguiwalo said the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a flagship initiative of the Aquino administration, was a reflection of the “inadequacies of social services in the community” that should not be institutionalized.
“I’m not saying that it is bad. But I think most people would like to see our poor not just accepting financial assistance. And I think even poor beneficiaries we talked with, they said they want jobs rather than right now just depending on the government, and that’s the direction we want to take,” Taguiwalo said.
“It’s not an anti-poverty program. This is not the solution to poverty. It’s a stop-gap program… How can that solve poverty? It’s like providing relief to poor families… Even the data would reveal that poverty was not reduced. You have individual families who have succeeded and we’re happy for that, but that’s not true for 4.4 million families,” she added.
The program provides cash grants to some 4.4 million beneficiary households on the condition that they comply with requirements such as regular health checkups for pregnant women and children, and enrollment of children from daycare through high school. Beneficiaries are also required to attend family development sessions and must train to operate their preferred livelihood projects.
Taguiwalo said she wanted poor families to be able to tell themselves that they worked their way out of poverty through their own skills and community efforts and not by merely relying on government dole-outs.
This, she said, can be done through job facilitation and other alternatives that the department was studying in coordination with other key government agencies and a proper economic direction.
Asked if the 4Ps was at the risk of not being continued under her watch, Taguiwalo said she could not drop it just yet, at least for another three years, due to an existing agreement with the World Bank and the number of families still depending on the program, which was pegged at 4.4 million.
So I think I need a deeper study of the 4Ps and other alternatives, but definitely I’m against institutionalizing the 4Ps… We want that at the end of the day, when they have transitioned or improved their lives, they can say to themselves that ‘we did it and we did it ourselves,’” Taguiwalo said.
“Mayroon kaming ibang programa na tumutulong sa mga taong magkaroon ng trabaho, skills (We have other programs to help people gain livelihood)… But at the end of the day, it’s not enough for us to have this kind of programs. It’s a question of what kind of economic direction would you like to pursue. Poverty in the rural areas is pervasive probably because the farmers don’t have land. I hope we take into consideration the fact that accessible social services like education and housing should be given priority,” she added.
Taguiwalo said the DSWD was also validating reports that some families have already reached the poverty threshold and can be considered as “non-poor but still near-poor,” adding that the department would still have programs for them.
The DSWD earlier said that aside from cash, 4Ps beneficiaries would receive rice subsidies starting next year as part of an improved conditional cash transfer under the new administration. CDG
Rice to be part of 4Ps under Digong
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