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Anakbayan on continuing Arroyo dole-outs: Social services subsidy is a better investment

September 3, 2010

Youth group Anakbayan criticized an announcement by the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that it will continue a ‘dole-out’ program by the previous Administration and increase its recipients, calling it a ‘cheap PR gimmick of a regime in crisis’.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P) is a ‘cash transfer’ program which was started under the Gloria Arroyo administration. It has been widely criticized as a ‘dole-out’ since it does not lead to any ‘productive activity’ such as the creation of new jobs. Yesterday, DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman announced that up to 1 million households will receive a monthly P1,400.

The Asian Dev’t Bank, which recently provided a loan for the program, claims that the conditions under which a family can qualify under the 4P is an ‘effective way of keeping children healthier and in school’.

Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez however dismissed the claim as ‘pure rubbish’.

“The laughable logic of it all is that by imposing the various ‘conditions’ of the 4P, it will actually lead to having the program’s recipients meet those conditions” she said.

Among the program’s conditions for its recipients are:

• Children 6 to 14 years old must be enrolled in school and attend at least 85 percent of the classes.

• Pregnant women must receive prenatal and postnatal care.

• Children under 5 years of age must receive regular preventive health checkups and vaccinations.

• Children in elementary schools must receive deworming treatment at least twice a year.

“In many parts of the country, communities lack proper, or even any, school and medical facilities. Even if you impose the program’s conditions, the members of the community will not be able to meet them” said the youth leader.

“There is no substitute for allocating adequate funding for social services” asserted Bañez.

She called on the Aquino administration to focus on adequately funding social services, “instead of resorting to these gimmicks”.

She said the continuation of the 4P program is an effort to distract the public from the huge budget cuts that social services are facing in the proposed 2011 budget.

In his 2011 budget message entitled ‘Pag-gugol sa Daang Matuwid’, President Noynoy Aquino said that they would reduce subsidies to gov’t services such as the cheap rice of the Nat’l Food Authority, and the fares of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Railway Transit (LRT).

According to a report by the IBON Foundation, the proposed health services budget for 2011 will be reduced by 3.5%. The proposed budget for SCUs (State Colleges and Universities) will receive a P600 million budget cut, with the University of the Philippines and the Phil. Normal University being the biggest ‘losers’ with decreases of P1.39 billion and P91.2 million (or 20.11% and 23.59%) respectively.

The Anakbayan spokesperson noted that when former president Arroyo increased the number of beneficiaries of the program last year, it was at the height of the ‘Le Cirque’ scandal where she and some of her cronies were caught spending millions of pesos in meals during a U.S trip.

“Could it be that the 4P is serving the same purpose under Noynoy?” said Bañez.

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