Filters that discriminate

The 4Ps supposedly has for its clientele the poorest of the poor with the objective of bridging the gaps – “pantawid” – in education and health services. But many of the poorest of the poor are not enrolled or the Program has failed to capture them. How come?

It is partly due to the requirements set by the Program. In the barangays or villages, eligible families are asked to fulfil and submit the following registration requirements

Copies of birth certificates for all family members.
Copies of school IDs or first grading period school report cards of all children in the family who attended school.
Barangay certificate.
2 1″x1″ picture with white background (taken between March-September 2012) for the Program ID and Land Bank ATM ID.
Copy of health records of 0-5 year olds from the health center where they have their check-ups.
Valid IDs of the family member attending the community assembly.

To understand why these requirements are onerous and discriminate against the poorest of the poor, as well as create unintended effects, policy makers need to understand that this group

Are the walang-wala (meaning, without economic and social capital to trade in the market with).
Are focused on immediate and short term needs e.g. daily food to the neglect of the family’s longer-term social and health needs.

These relative to the 4Ps registration requirements means

The births of their children have been attended by hilots in most cases untrained (in the lingo of medical professionals) and therefore unregistered. Transaction fees at NSO in processing and securing say birth certificates of 4 children could reach a thousand pesos (including personal travel), which immediately deters the family from pursuing this route (unless the family does some drastic measure like selling a soul).

Their young children have not been taken to the health center for regular check-ups and therefore they are without the DOH health records.

In order to secure a barangay certificate, they need to produce in some instances especially in urban areas property ownership (land, house), TIN, electricity bill, etcetera. In other words, they need to secure these first which by themselves entail lengthy and costly transaction costs before they can be given a barangay certificate.

Even the IDs – in my experience in development work, the poorest of the poor would rather buy one more tin of sardines instead of spending their last money for their photo to be taken (which is what PHP90/6 copies).

In the end, these requirements which we average folks deemed “affordable” serve to filter this target group out of the Program; which is why in any given 4Ps-covered barangay, you’ll come across people questioning how come there are Program recipients who are not poor.

This system of filtering recipients (or, rules) is not true for the 4Ps only; we can find it happening in the education system e.g. scholarships for the deserving among the poorest of the poor, in the world of work, in planning, in policy deliberation, etc.

So when we ask how come the poor appears unable to get out of the hole they’re in the answer lies hugely on the filters we have set up. In designing programs, we have to ask ourselves first, are we by our requirements setting up these people to fail? Yes, they must also work to get the bread but what if metaphorically speaking they’re lame, blind, deaf, and mute? Then we need to guide them toward the carrot and once they have grabbed of the carrot – have we checked beforehand if they have metaphorically speaking teeth? My point is, sustainable programs aimed at the poorest of the poor entail a well-thought out design.

For the 4Ps, requirements should be the minimum and not entail if possible financial costs which after all the poor have shown they can’t afford to pay when they did not send their children to school or the health center. If I were to restructure the registration requirements it would be (1) the family’s residency in the Program area is certified by any member of the barangay council; (2) the family’s relocation or transfer into a non-Program area will mean forfeiture of its privileges under the Program; (2) the family abides by the terms and conditions of the program e.g. enrolling the children to school, bringing them for regular health check-ups, attending meetings, filling up and submitting progress reports; (3) fulfil within a year after its enrolment in the program the birth registration of their unregistered children and formal registration in the barangay population count. That’s it.

Bottomline is, the Program should not crucify these people twice with requirements that because of their poverty they can’t fulfil (at least immediately). If the 4Ps is charity, this is true charity.


One thought on “Filters that discriminate

  1. I agree with you. I’m searching about these requirements because of my relatives who are in the province right now. They’re very dissapointed for they dont have enough money to pay for their children’s birth certificate from the NSO. It will costs more or less 1500 and they can’t afford to pay for it. It so sad that they can’t avail these kind of benefits from our government because of this reason. 😦


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