THE minority leader of the House of Representatives on Monday is pushing for higher cash grants to households listed under the government’s flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as he warned of worsening food insecurity among poor families due to price shocks.
House Minority leader Marcelino Libanan, in a statement, said the Covid-19 pandemic has left a big scar of growing poverty due to the destruction of jobs and income, and the fallout of rampant energy and food inflation from the Russia-Ukraine war threatens to further put many Filipino families in dire straits.
“We would urge the government to quickly expand the coverage of the 4Ps to include a greater number of beneficiaries, and to augment the cash aid that they are receiving,” Libanan said.
“Marginal households with no cushion against economic shocks are falling back into survival, and are now extremely vulnerable to hunger,” added Libanan, of 4Ps partylist.
Libanan and fellow 4Ps partylist Rep. Jonathan Clement Abalos II earlier filed House Resolution 184, calling for an increase in the amount of cash grants to help beneficiaries keep up with runaway inflation.
In the proposed 2023 national budget, Libanan said the government plans to spend P105.4 billion next year to pay for 4Ps cash grants, excluding the cost of personnel services and spot checks, administrative expenses, bank service fees, and other incidental overheads.
“We need bigger funding to put more families in the program, and to pay them higher cash grants,” Libanan said.
A total of 4.021 million household-beneficiaries are now enrolled in the 4Ps, the government’s conditional cash transfer program targeted at chronic poor families with children aged 0-14 years old.
The beneficiaries currently receive P500 per month for health and nutrition expenses, and P300 per month per child for 10 months for educational expenses, with a maximum of three children per household allowed.
The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier reported that the country’s poverty incidence rose to 18.1 percent in 2021, which is equal to nearly 20 million poor Filipinos whose per capita income cannot sufficiently meet individual basic food and non-food needs.
Meanwhile, some 12.2 percent of Filipinos, or an estimated 3.1 million families, experienced hunger in the first quarter of 2022, according to a previous survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas sees inflation peaking by September or October, after rising to 6.4 percent year-on-year in July, with prices of consumer goods and services continuing to reflect the burden of costly petroleum products and a weak peso.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes