House leader urges Imee Marcos to explain P13B 4Ps budget realignment

HOUSE Deputy Speaker David “Jay-Jay” Suarez urged Senator Imee Marcos to explain the realignment of P13 billion allocation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) last year to other social amelioration programs.

Suarez said the realignment has deprived nearly 900,000 families or 4.3 million poor Filipinos of assistance.

The legislator from Quezon issued the statement following Marcos’ admission of slashing the budget of the 4Ps program for the “poorest of the poor” under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA), any previous realignments initiated by the senator should be reviewed considering millions of affected beneficiaries.

“Unang-una, I think the question is, dahil inamin ng ating mahal na Senador na nagbawas siya ng pondo (para sa 4Ps), I think ang tanong, ilang milyong Pilipino ang naapektuhan dahil doon sa pondong nawala?” Suarez said.

“(At) ang mas malaking tanong, ilang milyong Pilipino at ilang households ang naapektuhan dahil nailipat ‘yung pondo, at mukhang hindi lang yata noong 2023 nangyari ito,” he added, saying he fears that budget realignments on the 4Ps have also happened in previous years.

Marcos, in a statement, admitted to recommending some P8 billion in 4Ps funding be realigned to other DSWD programs such as the supplemental feeding, KALAHI-CIDSS, Quick Response Fund for disasters, and AICS during the deliberations of the 2023 national budget in 2022.

Suarez argued that the 4Ps program is not just some government aid project that lawmakers could tinker with, as it is based on a law, Republic Act (RA) No. 11310 or the 4Ps Act.

“Wag natin kakalimutan, 4Ps is a law. It’s not just a regular program, it’s not just a project that comes and goes. It’s a law. It has specific beneficiaries. It has specific objectives and therefore the funding has to be secured to support the intent of the program,” Suarez pointed out.

This is why, he added, it is incumbent upon the House of Representatives in the exercise of its oversight functions to look into these budget realignments.