By Mario Casayuran
Detained opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima Saturday allayed fears that the new law institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) would make its intended beneficiaries overly-reliant on government’s cash dole outs.
De Lima, the principal sponsor and author of the 4Ps bill in the Senate, said 4Ps is in fact among the few ingenious public sector programs that make tangible and lasting interventions in the lives of its beneficiaries.
De Lima made the statement after the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) criticized the signing into law of Republic Act 11310 or the 4Ps Law, claiming that it prevents Filipinos from becoming self-sustaining by supposedly giving illusion that the government will provide all financial assistance to cover their basic needs.
Critics said that some beneficiaries use the 4Ps funds to bet at lotto outlets or other forms of gambling.
Others also maintained the tens of billions of pesos for the 4Ps program should instead be used for the establishment of nurseries and eventual planting by supposed 4Ps beneficiaries in deforested areas near them.
A successful deforestation program would help the environment, among others, that all Filipinos could benefit from.
RA 11310, which was signed by President Duterte last April 17, provides conditional cash grants to the qualified indigent families for a maximum of seven years, to improve their health, nutrition, and the education of their children aged 0-18.
Refuting doubts that 4Ps would be a temporary relief, De Lima said the law enhances opportunities, such as employment and livelihood, to qualified indigent Filipinos to empower them to achieve the quality of lives that they deserve.
“It is important to note that cash transfers under this law are conditional, for one, upon the child beneficiaries’ enrolment in school and their requirement to meet a required class attendance. To regularly receive financial assistance, they have to meet the requirements set under this law and not just waste the money elsewhere,” she said.
“And by limiting the years of membership in the program to seven years, the beneficiaries are already reminded to make good use of the money in the period provided because financial assistance will not be offered to them forever,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol also assured CWR that the law she authored and sponsored has enough provisions against possible abuses, such as transparency program, creation of independent monitoring committee, and corresponding penalties.
Under RA 11310, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shall regularly and timely post and update on its website a report of financial disclosures and information about the beneficiaries based on geographical area, social, economic and cultural circumstances.
The DSWD shall also serve as the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body of the Program by coordinating with the National Advisory Council and with the Independent Monitoring Committee at the national and local levels, to verify compliance on a monthly basis, using the monitoring and evaluation systems designed for the purpose.
Any person who falsifies their data and/or acted in conspiracy with public officials to alter the fact to be qualified as household beneficiaries shall be penalized with imprisonment or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P100,000 or both.