By Charmaine A. Tadalan, February 25 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Rappler

THE House of Representatives has adopted the Senate version of a bill institutionalizing the government’s national poverty reduction program, which is known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Senate Bill No. 2117, or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act, tasks conditional cash transfers with “improv(ing) the health, nutrition and education” of poor households. The bill was approved on third reading in the Senate on Feb. 4.

The cash transfers will be provided for a maximum of seven years, but may be extended upon the recommendation of the National Advisory Council. The measure will authorize the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to use a standardized targeting system, as determined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in selecting household-beneficiaries.

If enacted, the DSWD will grant the following cash transfers to beneficiaries: at least P300 per month per child enrolled in day care and elementary school and at least P500 per month for a 10-month school year for those in junior high school.

Students enrolled in senior high school are entitled to a cash transfer not lower than P700 per month. Currently, education grants range only from P300-500. The education grant may be given to up to three children, aged 3-18 years old, in every household.

The measure will also feature a P750 monthly health and nutrition grant, up from the P500 the DSWD currently grants under the program. Section 8 of the bill provided that the health grant is “a fixed amount and does not depend on the number of members in the household.”

All qualified beneficiaries shall also be automatically covered in the National Health Insurance Program.

The bill also outlined conditions that qualified recipients must comply with such as, availment of pre- to post-natal services for pregnant women, regular and health and nutrition services for children, aged zero to five years old; and deworming pills for those aged one to 14 years old, among others.

Households will also be required to have children aged three to four years old attend day care or a pre-school, children between five and 18 years attend elementary or secondary classes and least one responsible person must attend family development sessions conducted by the DSWD once a month.

Noncompliance may be grounds for termination of the cash grants, subject to assessment by the DSWD. Failure to comply for one year may result in the household’s removal from the program. — Charmaine A. Tadalan