The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) to operationalize the joint resolution filed by the Senate and the House of Representatives for DSWD to distribute actual kilos of rice to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries instead of cash for the rice subsidy component of the program.
The distribution of actual rice to 4Ps beneficiaries is one way to help local farmers cope with the present price drop in rice produce.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Food has approved the House joint resolution on October 25 while the Senate has approved on third and final reading its own version of the measure on November 4. The House and Senate joint resolutions will be deliberated in during a bicameral session to come up with the final version which will be subsequently transmitted to the President for signing. Once it is approved, DSWD will be given the authority to transfer the remaining 2019 rice subsidy funds to NFA. NFA, in turn, will use the funds to buy rice from farmers. NFA shall be the only agency authorized to distribute rice to the 4Ps beneficiaries.
In a meeting on October 4, 2019, the three agencies discussed strategies on how to distribute the actual rice subsidy to 4Ps beneficiaries.
In the proposed agreements, the beneficiaries will pick-up their rice subsidy from the existing warehouses of NFA. For those who live far from the warehouses, DSWD and NFA will designate distribution outlets where the beneficiaries could claim their subsidy. The Department will also tap associations under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) as designated distribution outlets, especially in areas where there are no NFA outlets or warehouses.
DSWD and NFA will ensure that the beneficiaries will not incur additional expenses in claiming their rice subsidy.
Upon approval of the joint resolution, the Department, together with NFA, will pilot the distribution of rice subsidy in kind in Regions I, II, III, IV-MIMAROPA, VI, and IX until December 2019. These regions were identified during the meeting with DSWD and NFA as areas where there is a surplus of palay based on the food agency’s report.
4Ps, implemented by DSWD, is an investment in human capital which seeks to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by focusing on education and health of the beneficiaries. It uses the conditional cash transfer scheme to provide cash grants to the beneficiaries who comply with the program conditionalities which are: children 3 to 18 years old must be enrolled in kindergarten, elementary, and high school, and attend classes at least 85% of the time each month; children 0-5 years old must receive regular preventive health check-ups, growth monitoring, and vaccines; pregnant women get pre and post-natal care (must be attended by skilled/professional health workers); children in elementary must receive de-worming pills twice a year; and attendance of the grantee/parent/guardian to the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS).
Aside from the education and health grants, beneficiaries also receive rice subsidy amounting to P600 per month which is given in cash. It started in 2017 as directed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address to provide the beneficiaries with additional assistance.
The Department clarifies that only the P600 subsidy will be converted into rice once the joint resolution has been approved. The educational grant of P300 and P500 for elementary and high school students, respectively, and the health grant of P500 will remain to be given in cash.
“The Department supports efforts to help farmers and assures that appropriate services will be provided to them during these difficult times,” DSWD Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin, chair of the Technical Working Group on Rice Subsidy, said. -30-