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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘Realigned 4Ps like stealing from 4m poor Pinoys’

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The decision of Senator Imee Marcos to realign P13 billion in the 2023 national budget intended for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) was like “stealing from 4 million poor Filipinos,” Deputy Speaker and Quezon Province Rep. David Suarez said.

During a briefing of the House committees on public accounts and social services, Suarez said he confirmed from Social Welfare Rex Gatchalian the funds were allocated to other social amelioration programs.

“In the House version—the budget for 4Ps was maintained intact. Now I don’t know what happened in the Senate, why all of a sudden P13 billion was slashed. And because P13 billion was taken out, there were 843,000 Filipino families, which is around 4 million poor Filipinos, who were not able to receive because of the budget cut,” the lawmaker said during the hearing.

Gatchalian, answering queries from Suarez, said the 4Ps program is not just an amelioration program of the DSWD as it is based on a law.

The DSWD chief said the objective is for enrolled families to literally cross the threshold of being impoverished to break intergenerational poverty.

Marcos, in an earlier statement, admitted to recommending some P8 billion in 4Ps funding be realigned to other DSWD programs such as the supplemental feeding, KALAHI-CIDSS, Quick Response Fund for disasters, and AICS during the deliberations of the 2023 national budget.

“The P5-billion AICS reduction, on the other hand, occurred after I had recommended the amount in the Senate version, but the bicameral removed it for lack of fiscal space post-COVID. Those two amounts – P8 billion plus P5 billion – are perhaps what some befuddled members are referring to,” she said.

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