Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DSWD, ARMM intensify anti-poverty program

In this photo released by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Governor Ansaruddin Adiong and Social Welfare Secretary Celia Yangco shake hands after signing their memorandum of agreement enhancing the implementation of the anti-poverty Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in the autonomous region in sidelights of Monday’s first meeting among foreign donor-institutions and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao executives in Manila, as witnessing local officials look on enthusiastically.

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao signed a memorandum of agreement to ensure the intensified implementation of the government's anti-proverty measure called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

DSWD Secretary Celia Yangco and acting ARMM Governor Ansaruddin Adiong signed the accord Monday in Manila and witnessed by officials and representatives of foreign donor-organizations and institutions and executives of the regional autonomous government.

In her brief speech, Yangco said the signing of the MOA was meant to replicate if not enhance the 4Ps implementation and ensure effective poverty-alleviation efforts especially in the conflict areas of ARMM.

The 4Ps, one of major anti-poverty government interventions, is a five-year program launched in 2008 through the DSWD. It is funded by international donors including American Development Fund, World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, The United Nations Children Fund and United Nations Population Fund.

It provides small cash grants to identified extremely poor families with the condition that the money will be spent for health and education of their children particularly from zero-to-fourteen years of age.

In ARMM where the country’s highest rate of malnutrition and school dropouts has been recorded, the program has gained momentum with the recent creation of the advisory committee to intensify efforts against poverty and improve the health, nutrition, education and economic condition of the local populace.

The DSWD leads the RAC with the Department of Health), Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, the Regional Development Planning Office and the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information as members.

The RAC aims to effectively implement the 4Ps and translate national policies into region-specific operational guidelines, according to DSWD-ARMM acting Secretary Pombae Kader, who witnessed the signing rites alongside other regional cabinet members.

In his response speech, Adiong said the forging of the MOA would further boost the operations of the RAC in carrying out efforts prescribed under the 4Ps.

“With everything in place, we can no reason for gray areas in ARMM areas as far as the 4Ps implementation is concerned," Adiong stressed.

In an interview, Kader said the 4Ps targeted 92,000 families in the region, each earmarked with P1,400 monthly subsidy for five years for health services and education of three children. Each child will have P300 education or a total of P900 for the three children while the P500 will be used for the family’s basic health service.

As of August 2009 nation-wide, the program increased its target beneficiaries from 700,000 to one million households in 2008, entailing the government to increase its budget from P5-billion to P10 billion, a DSWD report said.

In the ARMM, as of August 2009, the program then covered 15 towns, serving some 30,000 households that received roughly P58 million, the report said, adding that 57 more towns and approximately 70,000 households are targeted in the region in five years. (Ali Macabalang)

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