MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III brought to the spotlight his administration's gains in poverty reduction in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Aquino said the expanded conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), has a budget of P12.3 billion.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has expanded the program's coverage by including children aged 14 to 18 starting on June this year.
The expansion allows the children of beneficiaries to get cash grants until they finish high school.
Aquino cited a study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), which said that the salary of a high school graduate is 40 percent more than that of an elementary graduate.
"Namumuhunan po tayo sa pinakamahalagang yaman ng bansa: ang taumbayan," he said.
Aquino pointed out that according to data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the country's poverty incidence decreased from 27.9 percent in the first semester of 2012 to 24.9 percent in the same period in 2013.
He said the 3-percentage points is equal to around 2.5 million people who are now already above the poverty line.
"Totoo namang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ang pinakamahihirap sa lipunan. Pero hindi tayo titigil diyan," Aquino said.
"Ngayong nadagdagan na ang kakayahan natin, sinisikap nating hindi na manumbalik sa poverty line ang lahat ng nakaalpas na," he added.