Several lawmakers have questioned the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) delisting of 1.3 million Filipino families from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), as poverty worsens in the county.
In his privilege speech during the House of Representatives plenary session on Monday (August 8), Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza also recommended an increase in cash aid for beneficiaries of the program by P1,000 due to the worsening effects of inflation and the pandemic.
“Any delisting must go through a process of reassessment and social case management as set forth in the law. I agree that it’s about time we do a thorough cleansing of the list. However, beneficiaries in 4Ps should not be reduced but instead increased due to an uptick in poverty incidence by 2.6 percent nationwide as caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Daza said.
“Prices had been going up. It’s unfortunate that all countries are affected by the pandemic and then, recently, the war in Ukraine. More than ever, our poor needs better social safety nets,” he added.
Daza sought the DSWD’s basis on “how this number of 1.3 million families came about.”
“I would like to maybe get some data and information from the DSWD, how they came about in estimating or coming up with a number of 1.3 million families to be delisted,” the lawmaker said.
He said the delisting doesn’t make sense as the country’s poverty incidence grew by 2.6% during the pandemic, citing latest government estimates which found 3.9 million more Filipinos living in poverty.
Earlier, DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said that they are planning to delist more than 25% of the 4.4 million beneficiaries of the poverty reduction program, saying that the families have already “graduated” from extreme poverty.
Tulfo said that the announcement comes amid a “marching order” from President Marcos Jr. to review the program.
Meanwhile, 4Ps party-list Rep. Jonathan Clement Abalos agreed with Daza, noting that only a small number of families had genuinely graduated from 4Ps prior to Tulfo’s announcement.
According to Abalos, only 619,836 families are actual graduates as their income rose above the poverty line, or are no longer eligible for the program.
“Based on DSWD official reports, the 4Ps has already served 5.5 million poor households nationwide since its inception. As of March 31, 2022, a total of 4.2 million households are still eligible to receive cash grants. This gives us a different of 1.2 million households – 516,000 of which are still eligible to receive grants but on hold pending data updates or resolution of grievance,” Abalos said.
Qualified beneficiaries of the program include farmers, fishermen, homeless families, and indigenous peoples, among others.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.
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