On the ways forward for the Philippine 4Ps

There has been an ongoing debate on this particular program. One related FB post in particular has been garnering attention showing the views of DA Secretary Piñol and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin on the matter.

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The post in its entirety says:

A debate? Why not?


By Manny Piñol

A dean of a Law School sent me a message early today asking if I would be willing to engage Akbayan Congressman Tom Villarin in a debate on the controversial 4Ps Program.

Obviously, the offer for a debate was an offshoot of differing views Cong. Villarin and I shared on the issue of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of government.

Earlier, I shared the view that the funds for 4Ps totalling P70-B every year should be used instead for livelihood programs to contribute to productivity not only in food but other small-scale economic activities as well.

Since the start of the program under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, government identified millions of poor families all over the country who were given cash grants periodically to help them tide over the Asian Economic Crisis.

Even after the Asian Economic Crisis, the program was continued and was used for political purposes, especially during the last Presidential elections when the candidates of the administration really focused on the 4Ps program as proof of its care for the poor.

Cong. Villarin, in reaction to my pronouncement, said that it would not be wise to abolish the program because it helps millions of poor families nationwide.

He even compared my proposal to an “EJK” (extra-judicial killing) which would affect 4.5-million families nationwide.

I do not want to be perceived as arrogant or cocky but if the debate would result in a better understanding of the program, I would be willing to participate.

There are just several things that I would like to clarify on my position with regards to 4Ps:

1. I am not proposing the abolition of the 4Ps funds altogether. My proposal is to use the same amount of money for livelihood projects for the 4Ps beneficiaries to make them productive, instead of just giving out the cash assistance with very little supervision from government;

2. I believe that there should be a timetable on how long a family would receive livelihood assistance from government. Under the 4Ps cash grant program, it seems like families who are listed under the program could receive the benefits forever. This deprives other families who also need support from government from benefitting from the program.

3. The 4Ps cash grants have taken away from ordinary people the drive to work, especially in the countryside, where many beneficiaries would just wait for their cash grants rather than look for other income earning opportunities. The result of this is very low agricultural and fisheries productivity.

I know that the 4Ps issue is a very touchy and controversial issue, especially among our political leaders. Many other political leaders share my views and thoughts on the amount of money being splurged by government on the program which could have been used for productive endeavours. But the 4Ps is like a tiger which will devour the political leader the moment he gets off it. Politicians are afraid that once they recommend for the review of the program, the 4Ps beneficiaries would get back at them during election time. So, instead of doing what is right, they just enjoy the ride on the back of the tiger.

The question, however, is until when should this situation continue.

In the meantime, this country is seeing the birth of a generation of mendicants who rely on government for their subsistence.

I am sorry but I am not your typical politician. I call a Spade a Spade and I will always stand up and speak up for what I believe is right even if it would cost me political brownie points.


(Credit to the creator of the meme although I was assigned to the wrong department, DAR. It’s actually DA.)


However, going at it midway might still be better and is in fact what the likes of DSWD and DOLE have already set out to do.

Converging the 4Ps with existing government livelihood programs can be looked into to ensure that a social safety net is still provided while ensuring better value chain access of small- and medium-sized AFF enterprises. Ultimately, the end goal is to decrease the dependency of these 4Ps beneficiaries on the cash grants received.

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