Funds from controversial Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Subsidy Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under its chief, Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, as predicted, have been going to families who can hardly be considered the poorest of the poor.
CCT stipends have been found to make their way to families that cannot be considered as indigents.
According to House Minority Leader Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, there are validated reports that non-indigent families are regularly receiving the CCT funds.
“We have already received reports about families or individuals who are not exactly indigents but who are regularly receiving the maximum CCT benefits,” Lagman said yesterday.
“And we worry about reported plans to hand out cash to beneficiaries instead of crediting bank accounts,” Lagman added.
The minority bloc, during its weekly press conference yesterday, warned that the CCT program could be prone to corruption.
“While the rationale for the CCT is noble – which was why it was started in the previous administration – we will do everything to stop the program from becoming a tool for partisan politicking and corruption,” he said.
Families who qualify for the CCT receive P1,400 a month on the condition that members of the household 3 to 5 years old must attend Day Care/pre-school at least 85 percent of the time; children 6 to 14 years old must attend school at least 85 percent of the time; children 0 to 5 years old must get regular health check-ups and vaccinations; children 6 to 14 years old must undergo deworming sessions every six months; parents must attend responsible parenthood sessions and pregnant women must get pre-and post-natal care and be attended to during childbirth by a skilled/trained birth attendant.
Soliman has been criticized by lawmakers for insisting on increasing the budget of her department from the previous P1.5 billion to P34.3-billion this year.
Of the proposed DSWD allocation, P29.2 billion will be for the implementation of the conditional cash grants to poor families.
Of the P29.2 billion, P21.2 billion will go directly to conditional cash transfers aimed at helping some 2.3 million poor households by the end of 2011. The remaining P8 billion will cover food programs such as food-for-work and rice subsidies.
It was already pointed out earlier during a congressional hearing on the DSWD budget that the CCT program is bound to fail, since there are not enough health centers and other medical places, apart from not having enough schoolbuildings for children to meet the requirements set—to enable families to become beneficiaries of the P1,400 a month CCT program.
But Soliman insisted that the big jump in her budget was due to the targets set by the Aquino administration, wth 2.5 million covered by the cash transfer project.
She claimed that the beneficiaries—all indigents—have already been identified, yet from reports, the regular beneficiaries are not indigents.
It was also pointed out during the deliberations that should the funds not be spent, whatever savings the CCT program will have should go to the health and education departments, but this was thumbed down by the majority in the House and in the Senate.
It is usual that when there are budget savings, those savings go to the President, with the funds now at his disposal, which now gives the chief executive an even bigger discretionay fund and pork barrel. –Gerry Baldo, Daily Tribune