Santiago files cash subsidy bill for poor

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A PARTY-LIST lawmaker has sought the immediate institutionalization of government’s “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)” or monthly cash subsidy for underprivileged and poor families.

Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC) Rep. Narciso D. Santiago III, son of re-electionist Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, has filed House Bill (HB) No. 6978 which seeks to grant poor families a P500 cash subsidy per month and another P300 per child monthly educational expense.

“Once it is enacted into law, poor Filipino families will get cash subsidy from the government every month,” said Santiago.

Under the bill, the grantee-parent shall attend livelihood trainings, responsible parenthood seminars and have their children undergo health check-ups and ensure school attendance.

“The measure seeks to reduce poverty and promote human capital development through the creation of a national condition fund transfer program,” said Santiago.

Santiago said the bill will institutionalize the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, also known as 4Ps, to assure the fund requirement for the improvement of health, nutrition and education of the poorest households with children aged 0-14.

A similar bill under HB No. 6590 has been filed also by Deputy Speaker and Occidental Mindoro Rep. Ma. Amelita Villarosa which will be known as the Bulsa Pamilya Act of 2009.

Citing the report of the 2006 Annual Poverty Statistics of the National Statistical Coordination Board, Santiago said about 27.9 million Filipinos are poor.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that the country’s population has already reached 97 million.

Santiago said such program is also being implemented in Latin American countries such as the “Bolsa Familia” of Brazil and “Familia en Accion in Colombia” and “Oportunidades” in Mexico.

“The Conditional Cash Transfer Program is more than a welfare program that addresses structural inequities in society and promotes human capital development of the poor, therefore, help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty,” said Santiago.

“Initial report on the pilot areas of the program shows significant increase in enrollment of children from poor families,” Santiago added.

He also said “children covered by 4Ps have higher attendance compared to the general population of children in school.”