Friday, February 5, 2016

House to institutionalize the Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)

The House of Representatives, voting 127-8, approved on third and final reading Monday (Feb. 1) a bill to institutionalize the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to reduce poverty, promote human capital development, and provide funds therefor.

The approved measure, House Bill 6393, was endorsed for plenary approval by the House committees on poverty alleviation chaired by Rep. Salvio B. Fortuno (5th District, Camarines Sur) and on appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City).

The bill substituted House Bill 154 authored by Rep. Susan A. Yap (2nd District, Tarlac); HB 3887 by Rep. Eric L. Olivarez (1st District, Paranaque), HB 195 by Rep. Arthur C. Yap (3rd District, Bohol), HB 6305 by Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), HB 6247 by Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), HB 6236 by Rep. Alfred D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City), HB 1802 by Reps. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) and Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), HB 5879 by Reps. Ibarra M. Gutierrez and Angelina L. Katoh both of Party-list, Akbayan, HB 4063 by Reps. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), and HB 5390 by Rep. Marcelino R. Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City).

The bill provides that the State recognizes the need to strengthen the solidarity of the family and actively promote its total development.

Moreover, the State recognizes its obligation to promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.

Lastly, the State recognizes the need to protect the poor, thus the State hereby declares it a policy to: provide assistance to the poor to alleviate their immediate needs; break the intergenerational cycle of poverty through investment in human capital and improved delivery of basic services to the poor, particularly education, health and nutrition; promote gender equality and empowerment of women; achieve universal primary education; reduce child mortality; and improve maternal health.

The bill defines poor as households whose income fall below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and cannot afford, in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing and other essential amenities of life.

It refers to the 4Ps as the national poverty reduction strategy that provides conditional cash transfer (CCT) to poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education.

It provides that subject to certain conditions, each qualified household-beneficiary shall receive a CCT equivalent to P500 per month for health and nutrition expenses or the equivalent of P6,000 per qualified household-beneficiary per year.

A maximum of three children per qualified household-beneficiary shall be given the following conditional cash grant for educational expenses: P300 per month per child enrolled in elementary or the equivalent of P3,000 per a 10-month school year; P500 per month per child enrolled in junior high school or the equivalent of P5,000 per a 10-month school year; and P700 per month per child enrolled in senior high school or the equivalent of P7,000 per a 10-month school year.

A supplementary education grant of P300 per month shall be given to the child in elementary or high school who has maintained passing grades in all subjects after the second year of availment of the program.

Among the conditions for continued 4Ps eligibility are : children 0 to 5 years old must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccinations; children 6 to below 18 years old must avail of de-worming pills at least twice a year; children 3 to 5 years old must attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85 percent of the time; children must attend elementary or high school classes at least 85 percent of the time; pregnant women must get pre and-post natal care and be attended by a skilled or trained health care professional during childbirth in a health facility.

On the part of the child's family members, the conditions are that at least one responsible person must join and complete at least two government recognized or accredited NGO-sponsored entrepreneurship or livelihood training programs; maintain cleanliness in the surroundings and practice proper garbage disposal; plant trees in their surroundings; and assist, help or join in bayanihan projects in their respective barangay or municipality.

It provides that upon the effectivity of the Act, a congressional oversight committee, referred to as the 4Ps Committee shall be constituted. It shall be composed of 14 members of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development of the Senate and six additional members from each House, to be designated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Senate President, respectively.

The 4Ps Committee is principally tasked to set the guidelines and overall framework to monitor and ensure the proper implementation of the Act. It will also determine inherent weaknesses in the law and recommend necessary remedial legislation or executive measures.

In terms of funding, the bill provides that the amount necessary to carry out the provisions of the 4Ps Act shall be charged against those authorized in the current and subsequent General Appropriations Act (GAA). The appropriations shall continue until the 4Ps program has covered 60 percent of the total number of extremely poor in the Philippines as may be determined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). At the time of the enactment of the Act, the appropriations shall be included in the annual budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.(House of Representatives)

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