The Palace claimed yesterday that the Aquino administration had exorcised the controversial P21-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of so-called ghost-family recipients and that beneficiaries in the program are guaranteed to be among the poorest of the Filipino poor while expressing confidence yesterday Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, who will implement the program, will hurdle the confirmation process in the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).
Soliman has lately been under siege from critics who are questioning her ability to undertake the expensive program effectively and are accusing her of involvement in the P10-billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds scam.
Members of the House of Representatives expressed fears that the huge CCT funds will not go to target beneficiaries because of the reported lack of safeguards
from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in effectively implementing the program.
Legislators had said a similar program under the previous administration, which introduced the cash transfer concept, was found to be packed with ghost beneficiaries and they expressed worries that it will recur in the CCT especially with Soliman at the DSWD’s helm.
Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte claimed the DSWD had put in place mechanisms to ensure that the beneficiaries of the CCT or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) belong to the poorest of the poor.
Valte added DSWD’s personnel had started working on their list of beneficiaries and are even weeding out some of the names that were previously incorporated in that list after discovering that these families fell short of meeting the government’s poverty criteria.
“We are going over the list of beneficiaries and families that are to receive [cash] in order to make sure that the ones who will benefit from our conditional cash transfers are really the needy and, if I recall correctly, a number of names were already taken out from the list because they were not able to meet the criteria for the 4Ps program,” Valte told reporters.
Valte added the Palace is standing by Soliman on the CA’s scrutiny of her appointment notwithstanding the criticisms leveled against her due to allegations that she profitted from the PEACe bonds scam.
Soliman was tagged on the issue because of her association in the Caucus of Development Non-Government Organization Networks (Code-NGO) during the early days of the Arroyo administration where she also served as DSWD head.
Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez both expressed distrust that Soliman would be able to carry out the CCT program successfully because of her connection in the anomalous PEACe bonds deal, an argument that was shrugged off by the Palace.
Valte said the Palace continues to give Soliman its confidence who, she said, remains “professional” amid all the negative comments that come her way. She added that the DSWD chief understands that accepting criticisms is part of the job.
“We are confident that Secretary Soliman is very able and capable of implementing the program of the conditional cash transfer. As we notice, Secretary Soliman continues to do her job regardless of these criticisms by some sectors. I believe she is also in another province at the moment to conduct dialog with the other 4Ps beneficiaries and to also explain the criteria (for them),” Valte stressed.
The same confidence applies to Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles who, like Soliman, is also implicated in the PEACe bonds controversy for the same reasons as the confirmation of their appointments continue to verge on getting bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Chances are reportedly high that Deles’ and Soliman’s appointments will be rejected by the CA should they fail to convince its members why they should not be held liable for all the controversies that are being attached to them by some quarters.
Valte, nonetheless, continued to downplay this projection as they keep holding on to their belief that these two Cabinet secretaries would be instrumental in bringing about the reforms that Aquino wanted to implement in his administration.
“We just appeal to all lawmakers not just our allies to support the members of his official family precisely because the President picked these men and women because he believes that they will be instruments in implementing our reform agenda,” Valte said as she refused to categorically answer questions whether the government is prepared to accept the CA’s decision should it rule against their favor and completely shuts its door for the two Cabinet secretaries concerned. –Aytch S. de la Cruz, Daily Tribune