13 February 2009

Beneficiaries Made Public

Photo courtesy of rojen_ying1
One of the very few, but admirable policies and programs of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is its bid to push for transparency in the government's PhP 10-billion cash transfer program. Through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the government has posted the names of beneficiaries online.

While the DSWD said the "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program" or 4Ps has so far listed 337,416 beneficiaries as of end-2008, the website listed 341,410 as of 07 February 2009.

The list can be accessed through a link at the DSWD website.

The beneficiaries are distributed among 27 provinces, 159 towns, and 12 cities and the list grows everyday because it is updated regularly. Anyone can also verify the list for any misrepresentations, which is consistent with good governance.

Social welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral said that, "We assure the public that the beneficiaries were scientifically chosen based on the proxy means test specifically formulated for the program."

The 4Ps is a social development and poverty-reduction strategy that provides cash assistance to extremely poor households in order to allow the family members to meet certain human development goals such as health, nutrition and education provided they comply with certain conditions.

The conditions are: 1) children 3-5 years old must attend Day Care/pre-school at least 85 percent of the time, 2) children 6-14 years old must attend school at least 85 percent of the time, 3) children 0-5 years old must get regular health check-up and vaccinations, 4) children 6-14 years old must undergo deworming sessions every 6 months, 5) parents must attend responsible parenthood sessions/mother's classes/parent effectiveness seminars, and 6) pregnant women must get pre-and post-natal care and be attended to during childbirth by a skilled/trained birth attendant.

A family with a maximum of three children in school qualified for the cash assistance can receive a maximum subsidy of PhP 1,400.00 per month or PhP 15,000.00 annually provided they comply with the conditions.

President Arroyo recently ordered a doubling of the number of beneficiaries of the 4Ps and provided an additional PhP 5 Billion to the DSWD budget to fund the increase. However, the amount could have been increased further if the government was more prudent in increasing the 'pork barrel' fund of the legislators. In light of the World Bank (WB) report implicating some of the lawmakers in the alleged collusion and bid rigging for infrastructure projects, it might even be more practical to scrap the 'pork barrel' fund altogether.