Senate Bill No. 687: Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act

Despite country’s success in achieving moderate economic growth, the results of the 2015 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey still show that 50% of Filipinos consider themselves as poor. This result is a call for the national government to strengthen its effort in addressing problems of unemployment and alleviating poverty.  A study conducted by Asian Development Bank in 2006 suggests a strong link between poverty levels and educational attainment. Almost 50% of household heads who did not complete any formal schooling are poor while only 2% of college graduates have income below the poverty line. Despite Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reporting an increase in subsistence incidence among Filipino Families from 10% in 2012 to 9.2% in the first semester of 2015, it is still reported that incomes of poor families were short by 29% of the poverty threshold. Based on this, on the average, an additional monthly income of PHP 2649 is needed by a poor family with five members in order to move out of poverty in the first semester of 2015.

These data show that despite the decrease in in poverty levels, improvement to current poverty alleviation efforts is much needed.  It is in this line of reasoning that we push for the institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18. Other countries have been implementing similar programs like Argentina’s Universal Allowance for Children, Brazil’s Family Grant, and Chile’s Solidarity System which all have reduced their poverty levels significantly. All these have been made into laws. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act of 2016, with its enhancements on the existing program, hopes to ensure that all youth beneficiaries will have the assistance they need to finish high school and college and thus have a greater chance of landing a job. These include the expansion of age coverage from 0-14 to 0-18 years old and the increase in the amount received by students 12-18 years of age. This Act also strengthens implementation by penalizing actions which jeopardize the integrity of the program.

With the current implementation of the program in the country, high compliance rates were recorded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the months of March and April 2015, with 99.91% for the deworming of children aged 6-14; 98.99% for school attendance of children aged 6-14; 98.33% for school attendance of children in daycare aged 3-5; 97.05% for school attendance of children aged 15-18; 95.95% for health visits of pregnant women and children aged 0-5; and 94.84% for attendance in family development sessions. The program, designed to address short term needs for the long term goal of breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle, is only beginning to receive its return on investment, with year 2015’s 300,000 thousand high school graduates from household beneficiaries.  Given what the program has already accomplished and in consideration of what it could still achieve given the improvements to the program, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure sustainability regardless of transitions the Philippines may go through as it shifts from administration to administration.

In view of the foregoing, the immediate passage of this measure is earnestly sought.


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