[PHOTO - ALABEL, Sarangani (January 12, 2012) – Governor Migs Dominguez encourages responsible parenthood to the 268 family-beneficiaries of local Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) project on its first sortie at barangay Domolok Thursday, January 12. This project is patterned after the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a poverty alleviation strategy that invests in human capital to improve their living conditions by providing a cash grant of P500 per month. For more news and updates, please visit the Province of Sarangani (Russell Delvo/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 (BULLETIN) A lawmaker Tuesday said the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey indicating increased hunger is proof that the Aquino administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is a failure.

Based on the latest SWS survey conducted on December 3-7, the number of Filipino families that claimed they experienced involuntary hunger increased to 4.5 million from 4.3 million last September.

The number of hungry families increased despite the government spending P13,093,184,200 in cash grant to poor households as of December 2011 as part of the CCT program.

With this development, Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan said: “It is high time for the Aquino administration to rethink its Conditional Cash Transfer program and in its stead, implement a more sustainable poverty alleviation program that will address the growing hunger and poverty among Filipinos.”

She, along with Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, called for an end to “too much politics and division” purportedly perpetuated by the current administration in a bid to smokescreen the dismal economic performance of the government.

Suarez and Magsaysay said the 3.7 growth in GDP, which is nearly just half of the growth rate posted in 2010, is a glaring indication that President Benigno S. Aquino III failed to meet the expectations of the public.

In a statement, Magsaysay said that with the Aquino government too pre-occupied with its bid to gain political mileage by persecuting known foes, there is little chance the country’s economic position will improve.

“It is very alarming, considering that the growth rate did not just fall but dropped to half of what the country has posted in 2011. It would be tall order for the government’s economic team to catch up and regain the losses but with all this political turmoil besetting the Philippines,” she said.

Magsaysay said that while the government is at liberty to go after those whom it believes to have committed wrongdoings against the state, there should be a balanced approach in handling the affairs of the country.

“The President should look at the bigger picture and not simply be obsessed over one aspect. As a result of his nearsightedness, prices of gasoline and electricity, which is a major concern for both businesses and regular consumers have increased unchecked,” the opposition stalwart added.

Ilagan said poverty and hunger surveys should help guide Malacañang and the DSWD in the creation of its proposed budget for 2013. The budget call for 2013 has officially commenced and various departments are expected to submit their proposal for the 2013 budget in the first quarter of this year.

The party-list solon further said that it has been four years since the CCT was first implemented under the Arroyo administration, yet this has not resulted in any significant improvement in the lives of poor Filipino families.

“The undeniable fact remains that more Filipinos are poor. The Aquino government should cut if not totally forego spending for the CCT. Let us stop wasting billions in taxpayers’ money for a failed anti-poverty program. Instead, this should be realigned to the delivery of direct social services such as health, housing and education,” she said.

According to her, in 2009, the National Statistical Coordination Board said that 26.5 million Filipinos survive on less than P41 per day.

She noted that this data further increased to 27.6M in 2010. Late last year, methodologies in the computation of the poverty rate were conveniently adjusted thus the poverty rate was pegged at 26.5 percent which translates to 23.1 million poor Filipinos.


Is Mr. Aquino’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) the solution to poverty?

Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) at the directives of World Bank, International Monetary Bank (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the Aquino administration’s flagship program to alleviate poverty.

CCT is also the Arroyo’s anti-poverty program that the present administration decided to extend and expand.

CCT has an outlay of P21.2 billion in the 2011 national budget. The Program involves the distribution of cash grants under the so-called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, to poor families under certain conditionality such as:

1.Children 6 to 14 years old must be enrolled in school and attend at least 85 percent of the classes.

2.Pregnant women must receive prenatal and postnatal care.

3.Parents must attend Family Development Sessions.

4.Children under 5 years of age must receive regular preventive health checkups and vaccinations.

5.Children in elementary schools must receive deworming treatment at least twice a year.

Through giving cash aid the Aquino administration hopes that the curse of poverty would magically go away.

Bulatlat's Salungguhit on CCT

As I have said, CCT was started in Arroyo’s administration it was piloted in a few thousand households in the last half of 2007. Formal program implementation started in 2008 and as of September 2010, the program has reportedly reached 900,000 families and disbursed P12-15 billion.

The Aquino administration targets to reach 2.3 million households in 2011 and up to four million beneficiaries by 2016. To achieve this, the 4Ps budget has been increased from PhP10 billion in 2010 to PhP29.2 billion for 2011, of which PhP21.2 billion is for the implementation of CCT.

At the estimated 94 million population today, more than ¼ of the population or more than 24 million Filipinos live in poverty, is Mr. Aquino’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) the solution to poverty?

My clear-cut answer is NO! Why?

First, to beneficiary families who receives P500.00 a month/P6, 000 per year per household and additional P300.00 a month/P3, 000.00 per child a year which, up to a maximum of 3 children per household, for the 10-month school duration a year, it is extremely a relief! It is vital to the poor families.

But it will only grant temporary income relief. It is just a band-aid solution!

And it is a dole out system!

Reading an IBON article, it said that CCT is pursued alongside two other programs in the time of the Arroyo’s administration — the Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), that begun in 2002 and claimed 1.1 million beneficiaries in 4,229 barangays, and the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) that claims 34,502 beneficiary families.

The benefits from these programs, IBON found out, are very inadequate.

Second, CCT is debt-funded. According to IBON, CCT has incurred $805 million (P35 billion) in foreign debt. It will incur more if pursued until 2016. This is again an increased indebtedness! And who will pay for this debt? This is again imposed on the taxpayers.

Third, CCT breeds corruption. I remember that Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pa-malakaya), a fisher folk alliance urged the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations that the CCT fund intended for beneficiaries were gone to corruption.

According to Pamalakaya, enlisted recipients from the province of Sorsogon told them that when the beneficiaries went to the Regional Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to collect the funds, they found out that their names were scratched from the payroll list and those who were still in the list, only received 30 percent of what they supposed to receive from the program.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairman said that they don’t believe that what happened in Sorsogon is an isolated case. He said further that this grand corruption of CCT funds is an across-the-nation activity that shows the bankruptcy of the program. The running syndicates embedded in DSWD and other government offices are exploiting the extreme poverty and dispossession of the Filipino people for their own corruption racket. This is an indication that the bulk of the P 21-B CCT project will go the pockets of corrupt state officials.

Fourth, CCT is the same unsuccessful neoliberal socio-economic policy framework employed by previous regimes that was imposed on the Philippines by the US.

And lastly, CCT is not the solution to poverty. Instead of doling out, the Aquino administration should generate jobs and livelihood opportunities, develop economy to serve domestic needs, bring about genuine land reform and national industrialization and break up with neoliberal policies that entrenched the causes of poverty and the under development of the Philippines.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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