MANILA – As the Senate deliberated the P3.3-trillion national budget, women leaders from Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid on Wednesday morning danced the zumba outside the Senate gates to get the senators’ attention regarding their worry: That 1.3 million of the 4.4 million families-beneficiaries would be removed from the program, so that rice subsidy may be given instead.
“Nasisiyahan kami sa planong pagbigay ng rice subsidy ngunit lubos kaming nababahala na kailangang alisin ang halos ikatlo sa aming mga kasamahan upang maibigay ang rice subsidy (We are happy about the plan to give the rice subsidy but we are terribly worried that almost a third of our colleagues would be removed so that rice subsidy may be given),” the women leaders said.
They noted that due to the program, many of their lives have eased but continue to be poor. They also said many of them are already availing themselves of the livelihood program planned to take the place of the health grant.
“Mas mabuti pa pong ang karagdagang P16 bilyon na pondo ng programa para sa 2017 na lamang ang gamitin para sa rice subsidy at huwag na pong alisin ang health grant (It would be better if the additional P16 billion fund of the program for 2017 be used for rice subsidy and not take out the health grant),” they added.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan met with the women leaders, who included Helen Araojo.
“Sabi naman ng DSWD, itutuloy naman nila. Tinutulak ngayon ni Senator Drilon na ibalik sa 4.4 million [ang beneficiaries]…Ang alam ko, saklaw lahat. Dapat bumili rin kayo ng gulay para ang mga anak ninyo ay malayo sa sakit (The DSWD said they would continue. Senator Drilon has pushed to restore the 4.4 million beneficiaries…I know that everything is covered. You should also buy vegetables for your children so that they would not become sickly),” Pangilinan told the women leaders.
According to the Samahan, during House of Representatives budget hearing last September 1, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said it would remove 1.3 million 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program) families-beneficiaries in livelihood programs. Then, it would use the funds to provide for the 1.3 million to provide rice subsidies to the remaining 3 million families-beneficiaries.
The 4Ps is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18. It is patterned after the conditional cash transfer (CCT) schemes in Latin American and African countries, which have lifted millions of people around the world from poverty.