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DSWD chief assures PBBM payout for 4Ps beneficiaries being expedited

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has assured President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr that funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) would go to the intended recipients as the Department tries to speed up the reassessment of the 4Ps beneficiaries.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday (August 15), Secretary Gatchalian said that the DSWD initiated the reassessment of 4Ps households following several requests from program beneficiaries tagged as ‘non-poor’ in the Listahanan 3, which also affected the scheduled payout of 4Ps grants.

“Medyo mayroon lang tayong delay sa disbursing this year dahil kung matatandaan natin, ang basis ng 4Ps ay iyong Listahanan and the last Listahanan – Listahanan III – was supposed to be conducted in the period of 2019/2020. These were the COVID years ng lockdown,” the DSWD chief pointed out.

During the pandemic, approximately 800,000 families (not 700,000 as earlier reported) that had been initially removed from the list due to reported improved conditions found themselves struggling once more due to the economic repercussions of the crisis, Secretary Gatchalian said.

These families requested to be reassessed to reevaluate their eligibility for the 4Ps program, the DSWD chief added.

According to Secretary Gatchalian, an additional 600,000 families (not 700,000 as earlier reported) were also left unassessed because of the protocols implemented during the lockdown. This figure sums up to some 1.4 million families, a portion of the total 4.4 million households included in the 4Ps program.

“Ang naging desisyon ng Departamento ay mag-reassess. So, ongoing iyong reassessment ngayon at matatapos iyan ng September para talagang masigurado natin na masala natin nang mabuti iyong dapat kasama sa 4Ps program, kasama sa program. Iyong dapat hindi na kasama sa program, hindi na kasama sa program,” the DSWD chief explained.

Upon the directive of President Marcos, Secretary Gatchalian assured that upon completion of the reassessment, DSWD will swiftly initiate the payout to the newly validated beneficiaries. Fund distribution will still be facilitated through cash cards issued to the 4Ps beneficiaries.

The DSWD received P151 billion this year for its social protection programs, with the 4Ps program getting the biggest chunk of its budget.

One of the programs of the DSWD is the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program, which assists individuals and families during crises and emergencies.

As of July 2023, Secretary Gatchalian said the utilization rate for the AICS program is around 40-50 percent. “The DSWD will continue to provide assistance under this program for medical emergencies, death, disasters, and educational shortfalls,” he said.

The DSWD chief also pointed out that the bulk of the fund for semestral pensions for senior citizens and the supplemental feeding programs in daycare centers is yet to be utilized.

Secretary Gatchalian, however, remains confident that the Department would be able to catch up with its budget utilization for the rest of the year once the reassessment of the list of the 4Ps beneficiaries is completed by the end of September.

“Confident kami na naka-forecast at ready kami to catch-up or to implement properly based on the semestral payouts noong iba naming programa,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

President Marcos has directed the different departments to address underspending and to ensure budgets for social programs reach the intended beneficiaries.

During the discussions at a sectoral meeting led by the President in Malacañang Tuesday, the chief executive underscored the need to fast-track the delivery of social services and improve the budget utilization of agencies, particularly those involved in social services.

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