The province of Sorsogon, nestled in the scenic Bicol Region, served as the dynamic backdrop for the commencement of the 1st Joint National Advisory Council (NAC) and National Technical Working Group (NTWG) Field Visit 2024 on April 23, 2024. This groundbreaking event, panned to be an annual occurrence across different regions, endeavors to strengthen the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by addressing pertinent program issues, concerns, and gaps, while concurrently firming up convergence efforts at both national and local levels.

With unwavering support from the different government agencies including the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Department of Health (DOH), National Economic Development and Authority (NEDA), Save the Children Philippines (SCP), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Commission on Higher Education – Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (CHED-UNIFAST), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), this collaborative initiative aims to elevate the effectiveness of social welfare programs in the Philippines. Through a united front, these agencies are pooling resources and expertise to empower Filipino families and communities.

The first day of the field visit unfolded with fervent discussions revolving around updates on the 4Ps Regional Program. DSWD Bicol Regional Director Norman S. Laurio, delivered an insightful audio-visual presentation, shedding light on the current state and future trajectory of the program.

“Our commitment, collaboration and cooperation are what binds us here today, as together, this body seeks full understanding of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the national government’s biggest social protection program, in terms of physical and financial targets, nationwide, for 4.4M households. Bicol, a mega region in terms of DSWD Programs and Services, has the biggest share among the 17 Field Offices.” RD Norman, expressed.

Participants, including Regional Directors, 4Ps Regional Program Coordinators across the country, and members of the NAC & NTWG, actively engaged in dialogues outlining the overview of the four-day activity. This encompassed health and school facility visits, dialogues with educators, barangay health workers, and local officials.

The spirited participation of delegates underscored their unwavering commitment to advancing social welfare initiatives and fostering holistic development nationwide. With Sorsogon as the center of this collaborative effort, the field visit carries immense promise in carving a more resilient and effective implementation of social welfare programs, thus catalyzing positive change throughout the archipelago.

On the second day, to bolster community support and optimize program efficacy, representatives from the NAC and NTWG embarked on a field visit to the five city/municipalities of Sorsogon. The delegation, comprising esteemed members from various government bodies, embarked on a mission to directly engage with beneficiaries of the 4Ps program and meticulously assess the state of local health and educational facilities.

Employing a strategic approach, the participants were divided into five groups, each assigned to visit different municipalities within Sorsogon: Casiguran, Castilla, Gubat, Juban, and Sorsogon City. This decentralized approach facilitated comprehensive coverage and provided invaluable insights into the distinctive challenges confronting each community.

During their visit, representatives conducted thorough inspections of health and educational facilities, endeavoring to gain a firsthand understanding of the existing set-up and pinpoint areas necessitating immediate attention and improvement. Crucially, direct engagement with 4Ps beneficiaries served as a cornerstone of the visit, offering delegates profound insights into the daily struggles and tangible impact of social welfare programs on the lives of Filipino families.

On the same day, the Regional Advisory Council, along with Regional Directors of DSWD from various Field Offices, gathered to address and resolve a range of gaps, issues, and concerns surrounding the implementation of the 4Ps program. Similarly, the Regional Action Center, encompassing all branches of the Landbank of the Philippines in the Bicol Region, engaged in similar discussions.

As the second day of the joint field visit unfolds, the collaborative efforts of government agencies in Sorsogon serve as a resounding testament to the collective commitment to advancing social welfare programs and fostering the prosperity of every Filipino.

“The policies enacted at the national level stem from rich experiences such as these field visits. Hopefully, the learnings we gather here will become tangible recommendations to further improve the implementation of 4Ps.” Pantawid National Program Management Office Director Gemma Gabuya, emphasized.

The NAC, NTWG and Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for 4Ps have concluded the two-day activities with a comprehensive review aimed at optimizing the program’s delivery to its beneficiaries led by Undersecretary for National Household Targeting System and 4Ps, Vilma Cabrera, 4Ps National Program Management Office Director Gemma Gabuya, and DSWD Bicol Regional Director Norman S. Laurio.

Diverse issues and recommendations were meticulously deliberated upon, underlining the pivotal role of interagency collaboration in implementing program enhancements.

Usec Cabrera stressed “the critical importance of each agency’s evaluation in converting the outlined recommendations into tangible action, reaffirming the government’s steadfast commitment to supporting the 4Ps program and its beneficiaries.”

The event is poised to spur interagency collaboration and fortify government support for the 4Ps program, thereby enriching the lives of its recipients and fostering socio-economic progress across the nation.