The program is called, in English, conditional cash transfer (CCT) simply because it is loaded with conditions.

In Filipino the name was more categorical: Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino. You add “Program,” and so our penchant for shortening terms was served with the tag - 4Ps.

(The generic Pantawid is more commonly used, because 4Ps is oftentimes mistakenly pronounced by unlettered beneficiaries as porfish, 4pace, or poorpis.)

Whatever the language, the program carried a sense of more urgent concern, which is to provide a way out for the poor, so that they will not be left behind in the inclusive growth matrix envisioned by the Arroyo, Aquino, and now the Duterte administration.

 “Pantawid started in Maasin City in 2012 with about 2,900 grantees. The latest count is now 2,610 households,” said Jean Paul Retana, city link officer, during a Kapihan sa PIA interview last week.

The reduction was the result of periodic assessment, in which those who have improved their lives have been taken off the list, Retana explained.

The terms used in the regular assessment was down-to-earth: from survival, to subsistence, then to self-sufficient status, Retana said, apparently a far cry from the hand-to-mouth existence these families had been used to.

Retana shared another sign of improvement. In 2016, 31 families were rated under survival status; in 2018 -- yes, this year -- this has been drastically reduced into just seven (7) families.

More success stories were forthcoming in Retana’s territory. Yolanda Salas, from barangay Cansirong, a mountain village in the city, rose from being dirt poor into having produced a seafarer, and another of her five children had graduated from college -- in just six years of Pantawid implementation in the city, making her family a Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya bet for the province.

Marilyn Requiso, of barangay Tomoy-tomoy, another mountain barangay, can now boast of having an income other than the monthly stipend for following rules, and so does Carolyn Galope from barangay Cagnituan with her piggery.

Others had convenience stores and poultry projects, conducted in groups, that are sustained and now bearing fruit through persistent hard work and good management, consequently contributing to the individual family members’ coffers, Retana informed.

Retana admitted there are pestering issues that hounded the good intentions of the Pantawid program, like pawning of cash cards, indulging in vices, seemingly uncontrolled shopping spree during pay-out time, but these were addressed accordingly.

Pawning has reached only the level of first warning thus far, otherwise if it can reach the third offense, then the penalty is delisting outright.

Big stores in the city may burst with Pantawid beneficiaries during pay-out time, but they were under strict orders to make a liquidation list complete with ORs within three days.

As to gambling, there may still be some who cling to this vice, but this has been constantly monitored.

Despite these shortcomings, there is no denying Pantawid, an anti-poverty intervention, has delivered on its name, uplifting the lives of poor families (sort of “itawid”), a help for those who help themselves, enabling them to make a crossover in the direction of rags-to-riches.

This may not be a big deal for some observers, especially the skeptics who continue to view the program through the eyes of envy or contempt.

But for those who showed, and proved for themselves and others, that the program was a great help, it is easy to see that Pantawid has succeeded. (ajc/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)