Much has been written, for and against, the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the Arroyo government that President Aquino has decided to extend as a key component of his administration’s anti-poverty thrust, with an outlay of P21.2 billion in the 2011 national budget.
The latest critique on the CCT that I found interesting is that of the nongovernmental think-tank IBON Foundation, posted this week, titled “Conditional Cash Transfer and the Persistence of Poverty.”
IBON notes that the Aquino government hasn’t shown any sign of deviating from the “free-market” globalization policies pursued by the Philippine government in the past 30 years. Far from developing the country’s productive sectors and redressing its severe income and wealth inequities, such policies have stunted our agriculture and domestic industries; spawned unemployment and poor-quality work; depressed wages; reduced household incomes (save for those of overseas workers, but not all); and generally increased poverty.
The CCT, which claimed 787,807 beneficiaries as of September, is a dole-out that provides short-term income relief but not inducement to work, IBON observes. It is pursued alongside two other programs — the Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), begun in 2002 and claiming 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 finds, are very limited.
Meantime, the CCT has incurred $805 million (P35 billion) in foreign debt. It will incur more if pursued until 2016.
The World Bank, which financially supports the CCT, is part of the triad promoting globalization policies, along with the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. The Bank has long pushed “poverty alleviation.” It even fostered agrarian reform here in the mid-1960s, with little success for it. Thoroughgoing agrarian reform, a key element for eradicating poverty in the countryside, remains unrealized.
The WB considers the CCT “efficient” in targeting the children of the poor as “human capital” and developing their income-generating capacities. An unrealistic view, IBON argues, because the CCT supports the children up to Grade 6 only, which cannot guarantee their employability. The fact is, the profiles of the 4.6 million unemployed show that 44 percent of them are high school graduates or undergraduates and 43 percent are college graduates or undergraduates.
But the biggest problem is that, as IBON warns, the CCT will likely be implemented in areas of conflict as part of the counterinsurgency program. I would add that the CCT has been an integral part of counterinsurgency from the start, as has the Kalahi-CIDSS, and will become even more so under the Aquino government. Note the following:
Kalahi-CIDSS began in 2002, as the Arroyo regime embarked on its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya, which President Aquino has extended until yearend. After the WB approved a $59.1-million loan to finance Kalahi-CIDSS, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said the government wanted to “intensify and increase” its coverage to complement the CCT.
In 2005 the Armed Forces of the Philippines formed the National Development Support Command that targeted 1,700 community projects under a Kalayaan Barangay Program (KBP), with a P3.4-billion budget. The AFP has worked on these projects with local and foreign business groups, such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Foreign Business Association of the Philippines.
Now the AFP talks about “peace and development programs” on which its combat units in southern Mindanao (Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley) are focusing “to prevent (villagers) from joining the communist movement.”
How the KBP correlates with the Kalahi-CIDSS and the CCT is not clearly delineated as of now. Next January, when the Aquino government announces its new counterinsurgency program and National Security Policy (NSP), I can bet that we will find all these programs integrated.
As president-to-be Aquino enunciated on April 22, in a speech on peace and national security at the Mandarin Hotel, the new NSP will have four “key elements”: governance (anti-corruption), delivery of basic services, economic reconstruction and sustainable development, and security sector reform. The CCT and Kalahi-CIDSS fall under “delivery of basic services.”
Where did these key elements come from? Right out of the “US Government Counterinsurgency Guide” for interventions in other countries, issued on January 13, 2009 by the Defense and State Departments and the USAID, based on experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan.
Says the Guide’s executive summary: “Strategies will usually be focused primarily on the population rather than the enemy and will seek to reinforce the legitimacy of the affected government while reducing insurgent influence… Improved governance will usually bring about the marginalization of the insurgents to the point at which they are destroyed, co-opted or reduced to irrelevance in number and capability.”
It concludes: “Ultimately, the desired end state is a government that is seen as legitimate, controlling social, political, economic and security institutions that meet the people’s needs…”
A government that is seen as legitimate, though not truly legitimate — there’s the problem. Look where such “guidance” has led to in Afghanistan and Iraq if not Sudan! –Satur C. Ocampo (The Philippine Star)