MANILA – Giving out cash grants is more practical than the actual rice distribution to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said on Thursday.
Lopez, also spokesperson of DSWD, made this remark after the National Food Authority recommended procuring and distributing rice instead of the PHP600 monthly rice allowance for 4Ps recipients.
He said the DSWD would rather adhere to the implementing rules and regulations of the 4Ps Act “which calls for rice cash subsidy instead of distributing actual bags of rice.”
“Under sa ating 4Ps law, talagang nakalagay doon na ang stipend natin ay cash at ito po ay ibibili ng bigas ng ating mga beneficiaries (Under our 4Ps law, it is explicitly stated that our stipend is in cash, and it will be used to buy rice by our beneficiaries),” Lopez said.
He added that the current system using the beneficiary’s cash card was a more practical and efficient means to distribute the rice subsidy and more beneficial for the beneficiaries as they would have the choice to purchase rice of their preference.
“We want to give our beneficiaries iyong ika nga nila, na purchasing power. Choice po nila iyon (We want to give our beneficiaries their purchasing power, so it’s their choice),” he added.
Aside from the rice subsidy, 4Ps members receive monthly health and education cash grants.
Lopez assured the public, especially the beneficiaries, that the DSWD is ready to distribute sacks of rice to the 4Ps beneficiaries instead of the cash subsidy once the National Advisory Council (NAC) of 4Ps approves a resolution calling for actual rice distribution instead of the cash grant.
The NAC is composed of members from different government agencies which include the DSWD, Departments of Health, Education, Agriculture, Labor and Employment, and Trade and Industry, among others.
Meanwhile, Lopez added that more than 760,000 4Ps households initially assessed as non-poor based on the results of the Listahanan 3 were still eligible to receive the grants after the re-assessment conducted by the agency.
DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian ordered the re-assessment using the Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI), Lopez said.
SWDI is being used by the department as a case management tool to determine the progress of the households, by measuring their level of well-being in terms of economic sufficiency and social adequacy.
After the reassessment using the said tool, more than 760,000 4Ps members are still at the survival and subsistence level and they will continue to receive grants from the government.
Over 330,000 re-assessed members are tagged non-poor and are now at the level of self-sufficiency. They are now being processed for their official exit from the program through the “Pugay-Tagumpay” graduation ceremony.
He said reassessment was part of the DSWD’s effort to improve the implementation of the program which aims to end inter-generational poverty in the country. (PNA)