Presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson on Wednesday, March 30 told residents of Zamboanga City of his plans to alleviate widespread poverty in the country by refining and streamlining ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’ (4Ps).
At a town hall forum hosted by Southern City Colleges-West Campus in San Jose Gusu, Lacson said refining the PPP is one of his long-term goals to bring underprivileged families and communities above the poverty line.
Under his administration, Lacson intends to design his own 4Ps mechanism in which poor families are not only given cash aid as a temporary solution, but are enrolled in various capacity-building programs to elevate their living conditions.
‘’We will tweak that (4Ps); we will improve it. We are not going to call our 4Ps as a simple relief measure, but as a means to uplift. Because we need to help them get out of poverty, not just across, where they can only afford having three square meals a day,’’ he said.
Lacson added that he wants to restructure the 16 other programs attached to 4Ps under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare of Development (DSWD) to make its implementation more cost effective for the government without sacrificing the expected benefits for the poor.
Through this approach, the state could allocate more funds for the financial assistance of poverty-stricken families and individuals instead of hiring and covering the salaries of program directors, who are executing similar projects, according to the presidential candidate.
“Gawin na lang natin hangga’t maaari isa, dalawa, tatlo—nakatipid (pa) tayo sa overhead. Sa halip na mapunta sa suweldo, mapunta na lang sa mga mahihirap, hindi po ba dapat ‘yon... Common sense. Ang problema, marami sa gobyerno, walang common sense [We are going to rightsize it as much as possible to one, two, three (programs) so we could save on overhead (expenses). Instead of (the budget) going to salaries, it will be spent on the poor instead, wouldn’t that be... Common sense. The problem is many people in the government lack common sense),’’ Lacson said.
Central to the achievement of this goal is his flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program, which seeks to decentralize public funds with the end goal of developing more livelihood and infrastructure projects through the local government units.
‘’Once the BRAVE policy is implemented, the urban poor sector will be encouraged to go back to rural places because there will be livelihood. The urban poor exists because of lack of opportunities in the rural areas... You are relying on job opportunities in highly urbanized cities, right?,’’ he asked.
“E kung baligtarin natin ngayon, bottom-up, hindi na kayo pupunta sa urban para maging urban poor. Doon kayo sa rural pero hindi poor, rural rich. ‘Di ba, dapat ganoon ang ating kalakaran sa gobyerno? (What if we reverse the trend, bottom-up, you will no longer relocate in urban areas to become urban poor. You will be in rural communities, but not poor, rural rich. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of system in our government?),’’ he added.
Lacson stressed that what his policies are trying to accomplish is akin to the federalism aspirations of President Duterte, except that no constitutional changes are necessary because the proper implementation of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) would be enough.
‘’With my plan, we don’t need to change the Constitution, we don’t even need to pass another law. What we’re going to apply is the General Appropriations Act, make its distribution equitable, so that nothing in the P5-trillion budget ever goes to waste),’’ he added.