Suffering, deceit accompany 4Ps program in Southern Mindanao hinterlands

Feb. 20, 2012

National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Southern Mindanao

Press Statement
16 February 2012

Suffering, deceit accompany 4Ps program in Southern Mindanao hinterlands

The plight of the peasant and urban poor beneficiaries of the Programang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) in Southern Mindanao reveals the sham and oppressive character of this much-ballyhooed anti-poverty program of the US-Aquino regime.

In Paquibato district, Davao City, the masses are reacting against the onerous inclusion of rich peasants and small businessmen while poor peasants were left out. The reactionary government’s DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) solely identified the beneficiaries of the 4Ps program, in a careless and mad rush to spend the money.

Those who were included in the list received slashed subsidies. The deductions were not explained to them. They were later told that some of the children were already over age. The subsidy is intended for a maximum of three children per family, under ages 0-14 years of age. Many beneficiaries in Paquibato and elsewhere in Davao City were also arbitrarily removed from the list.

Compliance is rigorous and oppressive. Attendance on monthly seminars and weekly cluster meetings is a must. Class attendance and health center check-up is strictly monitored. Failure to comply any one of these requirements would forfeit the subsidy.

In Arakan, North Cotabato, a school principal would even accompany parents during the release of the subsidy to collect outstanding debts. One time, they had to pay for the costly motor rides, only to collect lesser than expected subsidies or none at all. Peasants and beneficiaries from far-flung areas incur high cost of transportation just so they could collect the grants. The waiting has been tedious for the masses.

In the towns of Laak, Monkayo and Montevista in Compostela Valley province, many peasant masses were dismayed when those who were more economically well-off were among the beneficiaries. Barangay officials, their kin and close associates were prioritized in the list. Collection by beneficiaries from these far-flung villages was an arduous, chaotic and costly task. Transportation expenses were higher than the actual subsidy they received. There were instances when the recipients were held up by robbers. Those living in the villages found in the regional boundaries find it difficult to collect. This, especially because they have not voted during the last elections and so they were not included in the active voters list.

Worse, the 4Ps program is being eyed by the Eastern Mindanao Command as another vehicle for its counterrevolutionary thrusts under the Oplan Bayanihan.

In Kitaotao, Bukidnon, women are openly ordered not to join mass organizations and join their activities. In Davao City and elsewhere, known bailiwicks of progressive partylist organizations are being targeted for the 4Ps program. The move is not only to stifle local militance of women’s organizations, but also to divert the struggles of the urban poor for social services, higher wages and steady employment.

Five years since it was first implemented under the Arroyo regime, the 4Ps program has not made any dent in changing the lives of the Filipino poor. The poor are given dole-outs, and are burdened with tons of paper work only to receive a pittance.

While the people suffer with the recent oil price increases, colleges increasing its tuition and miscellaneous fees, retrenchments are rampant, the 4Ps program continues to deceive the thousands of urban poor in the region. As landgrabbing continue to hound peasants in Marilog and Paquibato districts and in Bukidnon, in the mining areas of Pantukan and other parts of Compostela Valley, the reactionary government and the AFP woo the masses to forget the exploitation and enlist them to become beneficiaries of the 4Ps program.

The reactionary government’s strict call for compliance for 4Ps beneficiaries is making the lives of the poor even more miserable. It also smacks of double standards and hypocrisy on the part of a regime which cannot even attend to the academic and health needs of its people. It is even illusory to believe that the 4Ps program would result to higher school attendance rate and better health status of schoolchildren. For as long as families are suffering from low wages and starvation, the education and health of schoolchildren will always suffer. The 1,400-peso monthly subsidy can hardly cope with the increasing prices of basic commodities, transportation and basic services.

The regime is aggressively pushing dole-outs as its answer to the increasing penury in the country. Never mind that this corrupt-laden and heavily-indebted program is at the expense of comprehensive social services such as health and education — services that have suffered huge budget cuts by the US-Aquino regime.

The National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao calls on the masses to be vigilant in asserting their tactical and strategic demands. The peasant masses should not be lulled into subscribing the mendicant mentality, as they are reduced to scavenging measly funds from the bureaucracy. They must persevere in the anti-feudal, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggles. The masses should unite to advance the program that would truly lift them from the wraths of poverty — genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization.

(Sgd.) Rubi Del Mundo
NDFP-Southern Mindanao

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