Press Release
August 28, 2012

Transcript of the Press Briefing of Senator Franklin M. Drilon
After the Senate Committee of Finance's hearing on the proposed budget of DSWD

On DSWD budget

Today, we examined the budget of the DSWD. The budget in 2013 is P55.975 billion; out of which, P44.255 billion is for the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) including its implementation cost. The grants portion for the 4Ps is P40.416 billion for an intended 3.8 million beneficiaries. The cost of implementing this program is 8.67%, or P3.838 billion. The present beneficiaries would be 3.1 million with a total budget grant of P35.8 billion and a cost of P3.5 billion, or a total cost of P39.4 billion.

There was a recent survey done by the Social Weather Station and the results were analyzed by the World Bank. I want to emphasize that this is just an initial report. The final review will be out by the end of the year. Just to give you the parameters of the survey, 3,742 households (HH) were surveyed in 8 municipalities in 2011. They all belonged in Set 1, meaning enrollees as of 2008 which numbered 337,416 HHs. Why this survey limited to this number? It is because it takes time for the benefits to be felt by the beneficiaries.

Of the 3,741, 1,418 were eligible for the 4P, meaning that they fall within the lowest 20% of the quintile. Now, out of the 1,418 HHs, 704 were actually enrolled in the program and 714 were not enrolled. What they did was to compare the two. What were the results? The result reveals that there are more children staying in school with better chance to graduate from the grade school. When you compare those who belong to 714 group (non-beneficiaries of 4PS) with 704 group (4PS beneficiaries), those in the 704 group is 10% higher in terms of enrolment rate in preschool and 5% higher in terms of enrolment in elementary. The attendance in the group of 704 enrollees is 5 points higher than the regular attendance rate in the non-beneficiary. Also, more families prioritize education and health. 4PS beneficiaries spent 36% more in education as compared to 4Ps non-beneficiaries, and 33% more on medicine and medical service as compared to the non-beneficiaries. The important finding is that the behavioral change in families towards education and health was a result of the 4Ps program.

We should remember that 4Ps is not technically poverty reduction program, it is a bridging program that aims to make people more conscious on the need to educate their children and avail of the health services because poverty has been with us for a long time.

What is important is 4Ps is the first program that tries to reach out directly to the poor and make the poor more conscious on the need to invest in education and health in order to give their children a better chance at life.

The data on the poverty incidence in 2003 was very disturbing. The poverty threshold was P12,475 annually per household. If the family income falls below this level, the family is considered as poor. Poverty incidence in 2003 was 30 percent, and in 2006, it rose to 32.9 percent.

In the provinces, poverty incidence is more alarming because there are certain provinces were the poverty incidence was twice higher than that of the national average, specifically in the provinces in the Autonomous Regions of Muslim Mindanao and in certain parts of the Visayas.

It is really a serious problem, but what is important is 4Ps is the first program that tries to reach out to the poor in order that we can influence a change in the behavioral pattern of heads of the family to give more importance to health and education.

Through the efforts of our committee, we were able to reduce the cost of operation for this program from 10 percent to 8.6 percent that results in savings of P440 million which will go to the grants to cover 70,000 more families in 2013. This is a direct effort of your committee. I am confident that the program can be explained well to the Senators and I see no problem in having the budget of DSWD approved. Let me say that this is not a perfect program; there are complaints about the implementation of the program. But what is important is 1) when you look at the percentage of the complaint as against the total beneficiaries, it would be insignificant; 2) there are mechanisms to address these complaints.

On the next DILG secretary

I don't think the President has made a choice at this point. We are still grieving over the demise of Secretary Robredo. I believe that the vacancy should immediately be filled and the President should be able to make a decision within the next two weeks, ideally, because we cannot allow the department to run by remote control from the Office of the Executive Secretary. That is not good especially the DILG involves police where peace and order is a mandate. Therefore, I would like to think the President should make the appointment within the next two weeks.

Marami kaming ire-recommend (Question: What if the President asks for recommendation among LP members). We will leave it up to the President. He has been exposed to all the potential candidates in terms of policy program, work ethic. I am sure he has his own standard and I don't want to preempt the President. What I am saying is it is best the appointment be made within the next two weeks.

It will be a challenge to everyone to come up with the standard set by Secretary Robredo, not only in the DILG but in the entire cabinet.

On the appointment of CJ Sereno and the disenchantment issue

That disenchantment is natural and cannot be avoided, but I believe that is just temporary. There were expectations; you cannot deprive the sitting justices for having part of the career path being Chief Justice. We are confident that CJ Sereno will be able to overcome this disenchantment by showing that she can reform the Judiciary. This is a game-changing appointment. For the first time in the political history of our country the CJ will stay for 18 years. The first one I think is 1946. This is important because the reforms in the Judiciary will take time. It takes time, you cannot do it overnight. The Judicial ship must be turned around slowly, because an abrupt change may cause the Judicial ship to capsize. This is an important appointment because it gives CJ Sereno the golden opportunity to be able to reform our Judiciary. For example, you do not expect the more than 500 judicial positions be filled up immediately. Maybe a five-year program will be needed to fill up all these vacancies. Right not, there is 26% vacancy for the Judiciary, meaning only 74% are filled up. The perception of people on government hinges upon their perception if there is equal justice for everyone. The perception in the Judiciary affects the entire government. This is a golden opportunity presented by the President by making this game-changing appointment to enable the head of the Judiciary to institute reforms.

The reforms needed in the Judiciary are basically related to the clogged docket system. Number 1, you have the huge vacancies; number 2 is that rules of court and procedures that must be reviewed so that it is not availed of or abused by the litigants in order to delay the resolution of cases. We must also look at the disciplinary process because the present disciplinary process can stand improvement, so that the litigants can really look forward to the punishment of those who prevent the effective administration of justice.

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