Conditional Cash Transfer Program

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The conditional cash transfer program is a government program that aims to alleviate poverty. In the Philippines, the CCT is known locally as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The program was formally launched by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in November 2008, several months after the government started to implement it in January 2008.

The 4Ps seeks to provide "conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14." In 2010, President Benigno Aquino III opted to continue the program despite criticisms raised by some members of the Philippine Congress. Currently, around three million households are enrolled in the program. The government hopes to aid nearly five million families living below the poverty line by 2014.

The Aquino administration plans to increase the budget for the program from P34 billion this year to around P45 billion in 2013. In 2011, the program has a P21.9 billion budget, almost double than the P12 billion allotted in 2010.



In a effort to combat poverty in the Philippines, Arroyo launched the project in 2008. It was originally known as the National Sector Support for Social Welfare Development Program (NSS-SWDP), a project conceptualized in 2006.

The 4Ps became the flagship project of the Arroyo administration in poverty reduction and social development by providing cash grants to the poorest of the poor families. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was assigned to implement the program.

Selection process

The DSWD, through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction assess the households in the selected municipalities. They are assisted by the Local Government Units (LGUs) by conducting community assemblies. In order to qualify as a beneficiary of 4P, beneficiaries should meet the following requirements:

  • residents of the poorest municipalities
  • households whose economic conditions are below the provincial poverty threshold
  • households that have children 0 to 14 years old and/or have a pregnant woman at the time of assessment
  • households agree to meet the conditions of the program such as:
  1. children 3-5 years old must attend Day Care/pre-school at least 85 percent of the time
  2. children 6-14 years old must attend school at least 85 percent of the time,
  3. children 0-5 years old must get regular health check-up and vaccinations
  4. parents must attend responsible parenthood sessions/mother’s classes/parent effectiveness seminars and
  5. pregnant women must get pre-and post-natal care and be attended to during childbirth by a skilled/trained birth attendant.

Legislators and local government officials are disqualified from the program.


A household beneficiary receives P6,000 every year or P500 every month as health and nutrition expenses and an additional P3,000 for 10 months or P300 per month for education expenses of one child. The program limits a household to a maximum of three children. In all, a household with three qualified children receives as much as P1,400 a month. The cash grants are continuous for five years as long as the household complies with the requirements.

Other benefits

The 4P does not only provide cash grants to the beneficiaries. The DSWD also implements livelihood and socio-economic programs such as:

  • Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K)
  • Tindahan Natin
  • Food for the School Program
  • Healthy Start Supplemental Feeding Program


Since its implementation, the 4Ps had received mixed reviews. Some are calling the program as a dole out for the poor families. The DSWD explains that the program is a development program that invests in human capital and the beneficiaries must still meet the requirements before they receive the cash grants. By following the criteria, the program enhances the role of the parents by helping them fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards their children.

In 2010, Tarcisio Castaneda, an expert on social protection and international adviser on poverty cited that although its short term objective is poverty reduction through social assistance, in the long run, the program helps eradicate poverty by building the capacity of the children of poor families to complete their education and improve their health condition. Both of which are considered as investments in human capital.

A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2009 noted that there will be an increase in school attendance of the children from the household-beneficiaries from 84.9 percent to 92 percent versus an unconditional cash transfer could only increase the attendance to 85.56 percent. Therefore, the conditionality is imperative in the program.

The program has had received its share of criticisms. The Katipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) calls the program as deceitful citing that the government as to borrow USD400 million to fund the program thereby burdening the country with more debts to pay in the long run. Additionally, since it only benefits one million household currently, the impact of 4Ps is minimal and would not make a dent in poverty.

4Ps under the Aquino administration

In a surprising move, President Aquino opted to not only continue the 4Ps, but even enhanced it months after he was elected. This was widely lauded by former President Arroyo but was criticized by his allies in the House of Representatives.

In October 2010, 37 lawmakers, many of them Aquino’s allies, signed a manifesto expressing the opposition of the P21.9 billion for the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Instead, they would work or the realignment of funds intended for the CCT to the construction of schools hospitals, health centers, housing programs, agriculture and others that directly address the needs of the poor for jobs, livelihood and services.

Aquino defends the program by likening it to a lifesaver thrown to save a drowning man. He reiterated that it is not the solution to the problem but just meant to ease the suffering. Aquino is targeting 2.3 million households by the end of 2011, which represents one-eight of the total households in the Philippines.




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