Continuity of anti-poverty programs of the Aquino admin pushed

By Leslie D. Venzon

MANILA, Sept. 25 (PNA) — The country’s next leaders need to sustain various anti-poverty programs of the Aquino administration so more Filipino families will get the chance to improve their lives.

In a forum, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Joel Rocamora said the country’s poverty problem remains huge despite the significant strides made in reducing the number of poor individuals and families.

Rocamora cited the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that already benefited 4.4 million families or 19 million individuals.

He said it is very important to continue the government’s other programs to fight poverty, particularly the Bottoms-up-Budget (BuB) program which now cover all municipalities and cities.

The BuB has tapped civil society organizations (CSOs) in indigent communities to identify anti-poverty interventions which, when approved, would be funded by the budget. It allowed local governments to directly implement projects.

From 2013 to 2015, 45,713 projects worth Php89.4 billion have been approved under the BuB. Of these, 10,629 have been completed and 18,389 are ongoing or already lined up.

With Php24.71 billion budget for 2016, the BuB will fund 14,326 projects to be implemented with 16 national agencies.

Rocamora noted that the government has been prioritizing social services which receive the biggest allocation of 38 percent of the Php3-trillion budget for 2016. Social services cover education, healthcare, housing and social welfare and employment.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Asst. Secretary Javier Jimenez said his agency has been earmarked Php103.76-billion budget for 2016, up 1,000 percent from measly Php10 billion in 2010.

“This is a complete manifestation of ‘Daang Matuwid’ (anti-corruption platform) na dahil kunti nalang ang corruption sa government, mas madaming pera napupunta sa social services (Because there is less corruption in the government, bigger budget now goes to social services,” he said.

Jimenez noted the 38 percent of the country’s budget earmarked for social services is “unprecedented in any administration”, thus there is a need for the next leader to sustain such investment.

Of DSWD’s total Php103.76-billion budget, about Php62.67 billion is appropriated for the 4.4 million beneficiaries of the 4Ps, a flagship poverty alleviation program of the Aquino administration.

For his part, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Atty. Julito Vitriolo said the government allotted around Php30 billion from 2016 to 2021 to ensure successful implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program.

The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School and two years of Senior High School.

“It’s about time to implement that (program), the funding is already there… The Philippines is one of the two countries in the world with a 10-year basic education, and the last country in Asia that migrated to K to 12 program,” Vitriolo added. (PNA)