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4Ps beneficiaries pawn cash cards

BACOLOD CITY—The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is conducting an inventory of its propoor cash transfer scheme program after 259 beneficiaries in Negros Occidental province were found to have pawned their cash cards.

Dionela Flores-Madrona, head of provincial operations of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), or the conditional cash transfer scheme, said the move would ensure that the cards are still with beneficiaries and not with loan sharks.

The program is aimed at helping the poorest of the poor by giving them monthly stipends, provided they bring their children to health centers, send them to school, and attend family development sessions.

Madrona said the 259 had pawned their cards to usurers for P500 to P1,000 each. The most common reason given by the beneficiaries is that they needed money urgently for the hospital expenses of relatives.

At least 96 were found to have pawned their cash cards in Bacolod, 66 in Cadiz City, 51 in Escalante City, 19 in San Carlos City, 10 in Talisay City, 14 in Hinigaran town, two in Silay City, and one in Toboso town.

The irregularity was discovered in December last year after the DSWD verified a tip that several beneficiaries had pawned their cards—actually, automated teller machine cards of Land Bank of the Philippines—through which 4Ps beneficiaries get their cash allocations.

Loan sharks collect payment by withdrawing the money meant for the beneficiaries.

Cash assistance to 4Ps beneficiaries is released every two months. The amount per family ranges from P600 to P2,800, depending on the number of children a beneficiary has.

In Negros Occidental, including Bacolod, there are 126,667 4Ps beneficiaries.

Those caught misusing their cards are made to sign a notice of warning from the DSWD and given counseling by a social worker.

They would not also receive their cash assistance for the month, but would not yet be removed from the program. Those committing the offense for the third time would be permanently delisted.

Madrona said the DSWD could not sue the loan sharks in the absence of a law penalizing them.

But the agency could confiscate the cash cards, which are government property, she said.

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4Ps beneficiaries pawn cash cards

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