By Leilani S. Junio
MANILA, July 5 (PNA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Saturday the national government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, designed to lift millions of Filipinos from poverty, now has more than 4.4 million household beneficiaries nationwide.
According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, from just a total of 337,416 family beneficiaries in 2008, there are now a total of 4,424,705 households benefiting from the CCT, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
As of April 29, 2015, the program was serving 4,423,628 active households nationwide or 99.70% of this year’s target of 4,436,732 households.
Altogether, 4,205,251 or 95.06% of the active household beneficiaries are covered by the regular 4Ps program and 218,377 or 4.94% are covered by the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program.
The 4Ps or CCT program is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor families, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18.
The budget allocated for CCT in 2008, the year when it was first implemented, was around P1.2 billion only, but this was adjusted correspondingly upward as the number of target beneficiaries increased in succeeding years.
In 2009, the household beneficiaries rose to 777,505 and the corresponding budget went up to P8.3 billion.
In 2010, or at the beginning of the six-year term of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the CCT household beneficiaries stood at only 1,035,431 with a budget of P10 billion.
As the current administration continues the program implementation, the budget has been expanded every year to cover more poor families and let them feel that they are part and parcel of the inclusive growth for all agenda.
The number of household beneficiaries rose gradually to 2,345,639 in 2011 with an allocation of P21.19 billion; 3,121,530 households in 2012 with a budget of P39.4 billion; and 3,935,394 households in 2013 with P44.9 billion funding.
By 2014, the household beneficiaries totaled 4.3 million with a budget of P62 billion.
At present, the CCT budget amounts to P64 billion covering more than 4.4 million poor Filipino households.
In the past two years where there was significant increase in funding for the 4Ps, the program was also expanded to create more impact on the lives of the poor it is helping to become self-sufficient by extending the age coverage of the children.
The age range of the children who received grants from the said program when it started in 2008 until early part of 2013 was from 3 to 14 years old only.
In 2013, as the clamor to expand the age coverage became stronger, the Executive branch and the lawmakers responded by approving a law widening or extending the age coverage up to 18 years to assure that the children of the program beneficiaries can finish high school.
According to DSWD, allowing the children beneficiaries to finish high school can give them greater chance to be employable and earn higher wage and, of course, will be a way to help them move to higher ladder and opportunities, especially for those who have the potential and dream to make it big in other fields of endeavor.
As a result of the program expansion, the DSWD achieved a “milestone” after more than 300,000 students graduated from high school nationwide last March and April.
Of this number, 153,470 were from Luzon, 74,182 from the Visayas and 106,021 from Mindanao.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), there were 21,844 high school graduates, some of them getting honors and other forms of high recognition or awards for their leadership and dedication to their studies.
Some of them are currently enrolled in different state-owned universities and colleges, many have acquired college scholarships and undergone training while others have entered the workforce.
All in all, there were more than one million elementary and high school graduates among 4Ps beneficiaries in 2015.
A total of 863,046 of them were from elementary schools while 333,673 were from high schools.
Under the program, the households beneficiaries or parents of the children receive cash grants that they can use in keeping their children in school and healthy.
The program teaches the parents to value education by sending their children to school.
As it teaches valuing of health, it educates parents to have a regular visitation to the health centers so that their children can receive proper immunization and become healthy and productive citizens of the country.
The program helps the poor not to slide deeper into poverty by giving them fighting chance in the inclusive growth for all agenda of the Aquino administration wherein the poor should never be left behind and can reap the fruits of the promise of economic prosperity goal.
The poor benefiting under the program have been identified through the National Household Targeting System –Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).
From the identified 5.2 million households who were considered poor, about 4.6 million households were targeted by the program.
Most of the beneficiaries of the program belong to indigenous peoples (IPS), households with members who have disability, solo parents, poor families engaging in farming, fishing, forestry, and other disadvantaged groups. (PNA)