June 17, 2024

1-Pacman Party-List Rep. Mikee Romero said the House Committee on Poverty Alleviation which he chairs has voted to call for the suspension of the removal of up to 1.3 million poor families from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Romero said the committee voted last week to call for a delisting moratorium and give DSWD ample time to carefully assess the situation of families to be removed from the program and those who would replace them.

“We are all for that, but let us make sure that the exiting families have really improved their financial status and some of their children have finished college and are now employed,” he said.

Romero said his panel supports the government’s effort to have more poor Filipino families benefit from the 4Ps, which grants a monthly financial subsidy provided that beneficiaries comply with a set of conditions, including ensuring that their children go to school.

He and members of his committee are happy for the covered families whose children have already earned their college degrees, but he calls for realistic standards in removing beneficiary families from 4Ps.

He cited reports quoting a DSWD official that a covered household earning more than P12,000 a month would no longer be entitled to financial assistance.

“Is this level of monthly income a reasonable threshold? Is P400 a day enough to feed a family?” Romero asked, saying the proposed delisting moratorium would not hurt the 4Ps program as it has enough funds.

“Its funding in the annual national budget is good for 4.4 million families. Today, 3.9 million families are considered ‘active,’ of which 3.2 million are receiving financial assistance. Some 700,000 households are under review,” he said.

Based on a recent Social Weather Stations survey, Romero said 45 percent of Filipinos, or 12.5 million families, considered themselves poor during the second quarter of 2023.

Of the 12.5 million families, according to the survey, two million were “newly poor,” 1.6 million were “usually poor,” while 8.8 million were “always poor.”

During a recent meeting, the panel tackled several resolutions including one that urges the DSWD to wait for the completion of Listahanan 3, a new list of poor families based on a periodic government-undertaken national targeting system for poverty reduction.

Another resolution calls for an assessment of 4Ps “to ensure that the list of household beneficiaries is up-to-date, while hoping that poor families of the past have been empowered to be free poverty.” – PNA