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PIA Press Release

Feature: Espousing pro-poor program and alleviating political intrusion

by Recthie B. Tolinero

Cagayan de Oro City (9 February) -- There are various factors that contribute to the success and failures in implementing a program.

According to Sue Funnell, a close associate of Courage Partners and a renowned expert in the field of evaluation, as one moves up a chain of outcomes, the number of variables that exist within the government's control tends to diminish while those outside government's control expand.

Thus, this only goes to show that identifying factors within a program implementer's control helps analysts pinpoint where an agency has some leverage over events while identifying other factors outside control depicts complicating factors.

Such is the case of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)-a poverty alleviating strategy that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to help improve the health, nutrition and education particularly of the children aged 0-14.

The program aims to attain social development by breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle through investments in human capital.

As it works on fulfilling the country's commitment to meet certain human development goals, 4Ps has encountered many challenges just as when it is established in several municipalities in the region. Among these obstacles is the political interference.

After almost three (3) years of implementation in the region, there were several complaints raised by the beneficiaries regarding the interventions of politicians in their compliance to the program's conditions as well as to their membership in the program.

4Ps conditions

Before the program was implemented in the selected areas of the region, its implementers oriented the beneficiaries on the program's conditions which include the following: 1) Pregnant mothers should get pre- and post-natal care; attended by skilled health professional during childbirth; 2) Parents or guardians must attend responsible parenthood sessions, mother's classes and parent effectiveness seminars; 3) Children 0-5 years of age should get regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines; 4) Children 3-5 years old must attend day care / pre-school classes at least 85% of the time; 5) Children 6-14 years old must attend elementary or high school at least 85% of the time and they should receive de-worming pills twice a year.

Setting these conditions goes without saying that non-compliance of the beneficiaries would mean suspension or worse, termination of the cash grant that is allocated for the household. Other conditions that will be set by the local officials without undergoing legal processes or agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will never affect the membership of the beneficiaries from the program.

In a program review and evaluation workshop, Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo, Regional Director of DSWD in region 10, warned the municipal links about the various initiatives that the politicians will undertake these days since the national elections is fast approaching and they will definitely use the program to appraise themselves. She then instructed the MLs not to become an instrument of the politicians to concretize their political ambitions through 4Ps.

The department though encourages the participation of the local officials in strengthening the conditions' compliance of the beneficiaries since these conditions were designed to coincide with certain goals of their governance.

So far, the local officials in several areas in the region have shown their support for the program by empowering the parent groups to participate in family sessions, providing more health facilities and medicines to health centers, building more classrooms for schools and increasing the number of teachers in public schools.

Membership updates

DSWD strongly advocates for a transparent and fair implementation of the program. Thus, the membership of the beneficiaries will never be altered nor terminated by any local official. Any threats of termination or delisting of the beneficiaries by the local officials or the parent leaders will never take effect not until the program implementers have conducted a thorough investigation for a change of status or membership of its beneficiaries.

To refrain from being delisted from the program, Atty. Solamillo added that the cash cards of the beneficiaries should only be kept by them as this is one way to empower them and to prevent them from paying their debts using the money of the program.

The 4Ps, as patterned from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of Latin America, has been proven successful especially in health and education aspects. The arising complications in its implementation in the region have already been foreseen by the implementers however, with the constant out-of-control factors that exist, it would be very hard for the department to uplift the lives of the people through the Program. The Department then calls the attention of the stakeholders to take part in the smooth and harmonious implementation of the Program by minimizing political interventions and strict compliance and observance of the set conditions to make the lives of the 63,210 beneficiaries better. (DSWD X) [top]

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