4Ps’ higher budget no solution
This is a reaction to the banner story titled “28M to receive government dole” (Front Page, Inquirer, 6/25/13).
Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns assails the proposal to increase government spending for its poverty alleviation program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a program meant to project a picture of an improving situation for Filipino children and their families.
From the very beginning, we have opposed this “band-aid” antipoverty program of the Aquino administration. The program does not actually solve poverty; it merely creates an illusion of poverty being solved. In fact, the program has been plagued with numerous controversies—from the manner its beneficiaries are selected, to the delayed payout of monthly subsidies, to the alleged corruption of the agencies handling it.
A 2012 nationwide research conducted by Salinlahi and other child rights groups, which looked into the impacts of the 4Ps on children beneficiaries, showed the program to be futile in meeting even its immediate objective of increasing school participation rate and better health condition for children.
Many of the beneficiaries, especially those in rural areas, have high absence rates; and many of them have even dropped out of school to work and help provide for their families’ sustenance needs and everyday financial requirements for schooling. On health checkups alone, poor families already face financial constraints, more so when serious illness strikes a family member, due to high hospital expenses—that is, if a hospital is available in their location.
According to research findings, children beneficiaries have the same sentiment: The 4Ps hasn’t really brought significant change to their families. As its name implies, it is “pantawid lamang” but what the children need and want is a more lasting solution to their families’ woes.
For us, establishing national industries to provide jobs for the unemployed and making education and health services universal by increasing government subsidy (instead of partnering with private sectors to deliver them) are foolproof, long-term solutions far better than the 4Ps. And the Filipino people would rather have them than depend solely on government doles.
We believe that the 4Ps is just being used by the Aquino administration to cushion the effects of neoliberal policies, such as the privatization of social services through his public-private partnership scheme and the deregulation and liberalization of the national economy, which directly affect the most marginalized sectors. As long as these government policies are in place, poverty in our society will persist.
The 4Ps is only being used to cover up the socioeconomic imbalance in our society, which is the very reason why more and more Filipino children and their families are stuck in and are sinking deeper into the quagmire of poverty.
—REINA C. REQUIOMA,
officer in charge,
Salinlahi Alliance for
90-J Bugallon St., Bagumbuhay,
Project 4, Quezon Citya
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