By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is set to formally seek the President’s approval on what could be his most controversial proposal yet: to divert as much as P70 billion worth of funds allotted for the poor under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to agriculture-related livelihood projects.
Piñol also wants DA to stop giving subsidies to farmers and fisherfolks by 2021 and instead focus on financing.
The agriculture chief said at the first Philippine Agriculture and Trade Investment Forum that as much as P70 billion worth of government funds are being put to waste every year when it can be used to urge the “poorest of the poor” to contribute to food production.
Instead of cash dole outs, Pinol would like the government to provide “livelihood funds” to 4Ps beneficiaries that they can use to plant vegetables or other agriculture commodities.
“I will make formal proposals for that. Instead of cash dole outs, it will come out as livelihood assistance. It will contribute to greater food productivity,” Piñol told reporters.
As for the mechanisms — such as the timing of the funds’ release, who will implement the program, and who will train the beneficiaries to become entrepreneurs — Piñol said it is yet to be identified.
The 4Ps program is being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The 4Ps 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.
It is patterned after the conditional cash transfer (CCT) schemes in Latin American and African countries, which have lifted millions of people around the world from poverty.
Because of this program, Piñol said the workforce on the agriculture sector has been significantly reduced since a lot of people don’t want to work anymore. Farmers, fishermen and children make up the poorest sectors in the Philippines.