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Pantawid Pamilya can boost beneficiaries’ power to earn

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Amid clamor of some congressmen to channel the budget of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to job generation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that the conditional cash transfer and job generation are not independent from each other but in fact complement each other in addressing poverty.
“We thank our congressmen for their recommendations,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said. “Like them, we at the DSWD believe that jobs or livelihood activities which lead to increased income are important. This is why we factored in the livelihood component through our Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).”
SLP is a community-based capacity building program that increases the economic opportunities of families through the different modalities that it offers such as skills training, seed capital fund, pre-employment assistance fund, and the cash for building livelihood assets. It is implemented through the Community-Driven Enterprise Development Approach which equips program participants to actively contribute to production and labor markets by looking at available resources and accessible markets.
Since its implementation from January 2011 to April 2015, SLP served a total of 723,090 families, of which 620,874 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries were linked with public and private partners for either micro-enterprise development or employment facilitation.
With these economic activities of the beneficiaries, Sec. Soliman added that the preliminary findings of the World Bank’s Benefit-Incidence Analysis showed that Pantawid Pamilya is achieving its objectives.
“The Analysis showed that Pantawid Pamilya has been able to increase the income of partner-beneficiaries, and to move them closer to the minimum income level needed to transcend poverty. The report also said that per peso cash grant, the poverty gap is reduced by 61 centavos,” Sec. Soliman added.
Likewise, based on the 2nd round of the impact evaluation on Pantawid Pamilya, the program is successful in encouraging school attendance, promoting preventive health check-ups, and improving maternal health which are all important factors to break the inter-generation cycle of poverty.
Specifically, the major findings of the impact evaluation are:
More Pantawid Pamilya mothers delivered in health facilities in the past five years, with 7 in 10 live births among Pantawid Pamilya mothers compared to 5.5 in 10 births among non-beneficiary mothers. Furthermore, children beneficiaries have access to basic health services such as vitamin and mineral supplements that are vital to improving health outcomes. Pantawid Pamilya children aged 6 months to 6 years old receive Vitamin A supplements (86%) and iron supplements (35%).
Gross enrollment rate for high school children (12-15 years old) is higher (95%) for Pantawid Pamilya children living near the poverty threshold. Keeping the high school-aged children in school is important as this is the stage when they are likely to drop out of school to work.
Pantawid Pamilya households also invest more on education. Results show that Pantawid Pamilya households spent PhP206 more per school-aged child per year compared to non-beneficiary households. Expenditures for uniform or clothing are higher for Pantawid Pamilya children as well.
Pantawid Pamilya seems to have improved parents’ perception of their situation and of their children’s future. It encourages Pantawid Pamilya parents (87% compared to 81% for non-Pantawid Pamilya parents) to aspire for a better future for their children and expect the kids to live a better life compared to theirs. This indicates that the beneficiaries understand that the program will help their family’s future welfare. The healthier outlook of the future may also prompt beneficiaries to take necessary behavioral changes to achieve their aspirations.
Sec. Soliman also mentioned a World Bank study which stated that the implementation of social safety net programs such as Pantawid Pamilya helps reduce the poverty gap by 15 percent. The study added that social safety nets have positive and significant impacts on education, health, and food security, but also promote households’ ability to generate income that can lead to positive effects in local economies.
“The findings of the study of World Bank corroborate our premise that indeed CCT and job generation are complementary,” Sec. Soliman reiterated.
On the issue that the program is being used to buy votes, Sec. Soliman explained that the program has passed through the presidential election in 2010, the barangay elections in 2010 and 2013, and the midterm election in 2013, but no instance or allegation of vote-buying has been raised.
Sec. Soliman attributed this to the extensive information drive that the Department undertakes to maintain the program’s non-partisanship during election period.
“We actively discuss active citizenship during our Family Development Sessions with parent-beneficiaries where we tell them about their role in nation-building,” she said.
The Secretary also mentioned the “Bawal Ang Epal Dito” campaign which educates the beneficiaries that no politician has a hand in the program and that only the beneficiaries can remove or retain themselves in the program by complying with the conditionalities.
“More than these, we tell them that we believe in their ability and capacity to vote wisely,” Sec. Soliman ended.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.