Rising poverty, hunger mirror failed CCT — critics

Published by rudy Date posted on April 10, 2011

As critics of President Aquino spotlight the failure of his administration’s P21.5 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program after the recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing an increase in the number of poor and hungry Filipinos, the Palace yesterday went on a publicity overdrive, saying the program is being stepped up and had claimed the CCT had covered 400,000 poor families.

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, however, said the SWS survey showing a consistent rise in the number of Filipinos growing hungry and poorer only shows the Aquino administration has failed to implement any concrete program that would uplift the livelihood of the people.

“This means that this administration has not implemented concrete programs to arrest unemployment, rising costs of commodities and services resulting to more hunger felt by the people,” Magsaysay said, adding that the administration’s conditional cash transfer program (CCT) which it lifted from the

Arroyo administration, was not as effective as they projected it to be.

The SWS, in its survey from March 4 to 7, using 1,200 respondents, revealed that 20.5 percent of respondents or about 4.1 million families saying they went hungry at least once in the past three months.

This was up from the 18.1 percent, an estimated 3.4 million families, recorded in November 2010, the SWS said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, nevertheless talked of an intensified CCT program which he claimed had extended assistance to 400,000 families as the Aquino government pursues its economic and social reforms to alleviate the condition of impoverished families.

Coloma said the CCT, which is being supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is fast evolving as a strategy to immediately mitigate the burden of poor families amid the global crisis.

The CCT program, known locally as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is a cash transfer program directly addresses the poverty problem, giving an average impoverished family a significant boost in annual income.

Apart from targeting significant increases in school enrolment of poor children, the program also seeks to improve the number of child immunization and prenatal medical care.

“Providing immediate financial help and attention to those families who are in dire need remains a top priority of President Aquino’s administration,” said Coloma.

The latest SWS survey, however, showed 51 percent or about 10.4 million families who considered themselves poor, two points up from November’s 49 percent.

About 8.1 million families or 40 percent, meanwhile, claimed to be “food-poor,” up by four points from 36 percent in the previous survey.

Magsaysay also chastised Aquino for his failure in his anti-corruption drive which he had been bragging as the centerpiece of his platform of government, saying the SWS survey results ran counter to his campaign slogan.

Running in the May 2010 presidential elections under the battle cry, “Walang mahirap kung walang corrupt,” Aquino promised a better life for the Filipinos by ridding the government of corruption.

However, Magsaysay said that the consistent increase of Filipinos becoming poorer would show that bAquino not only failed in his anti-corruption campaign, but that corruption has flourished well under his watch.

“So if we go by PNoy’s slogan and analogy, then it shows mas maraming corrupt ngayon,” Magsaysay averred.

In June last year, SWS showed 15% going hungry, increasing to 18% in November, and going up to 21% last month.

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) shared Magsaysay’s views on the CCT describing it as a general and catastrophic failure.

“If that is the case, then when did Malacañang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development conditionally transfer the remaining CCT funds under the previous administration and the present funds under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III? Mr. Aquino and his Secretary Dinky Soliman have been hyping that CCT will change the name of the ballgame in favor of starving folks? So where is that prophetic promise of the Aquino-Soliman charitable tandem?” said Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap.

“If more and more Filipino families are going hungry despite the massive flooding of cash in rural areas, then CCT is nothing but a white elephant, fundamentally defective and an across-the-nation tragedy rolled into one,” he added.

In the same SWS survey, 61 percent of the people in the Visayas rate themselves as poor from 53 percent last year, while in Mindanao, people’s self-rated poverty increased from 44 percent to 49 percent while in Luzon, people rated themselves as poor rose to 54 percent from 51 percent last year.

However, Aquino said the survey could have been more positive if SWS included respondents from the Visayas and Mindanao where 400,000 beneficiaries of the controversial CCT project was undertaken.

But Pamalakaya merely laughed out on the statement of the President, adding that Aquino was either misinformed or was not reading the survey which transpired last month.

“The data show 61 percent of the people in the Visayas and 49 percent of the people in Mindanao rate themselves as poor. Can’t imagine why Mr. Aquino can’t reconcile his facts and analysis,” said Pamalakaya.

Earlier, Pamalakaya asked on the House oversight committee tasked to monitor fund use and leakages of the CCT program in 2011 to investigate allegations that the fund intended for beneficiaries went to corruption last year.

The militant group made the call after it received several text messages from beneficiaries of CCT program in Barangay Vinisitahan, in Donsol, Sorsogon complaining about the distribution of CCT funds in their barangay.

Pamalakaya stressed the House oversight committee should immediately investigate these allegations of corruption of CCT funds last year, adding that the Vinisitahan case in Donsol is just a tip of the iceberg and that beneficiaries in other areas probably have their own stories to tell too.

The militant group said one of the recipients of the CCT program informed their office last Dec. 4, 2010 beneficiaries of conditional cash transfer went to the regional office of the DSWD to collect the funds only to find out that their names were scratched from the payroll list. Those who were still on the payroll list, however, only received 30 percent of what they are supposed to receive from the program which is P1, 400 per month.

The DSWD personnel in Legaspi City failed to offer any explanation to the CCT beneficiaries, according to another text message sent to Pamalakaya office.

“We don’t believe this is an isolated case. 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 our people for their own corruption racket. This is an indication that the bulk of the P21-billion CCT project will go to the pockets of corrupt state officials aside from financially supporting the evil agenda of Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said the incident should compel the House oversight committee to recall the P21-billion CCT dole-out program in 2011 and the indefinite suspension of the program while an investigation and review of the 2010 4Ps project are being undertaken.

“This case merits a full-blown inquiry by the House of Representatives and even the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. In the meantime, an indefinite suspension of the program becomes a necessity at this point in time that would eventually lead to the scrapping of the P21 billion for CCT program,” the group said. –Rising poverty, hunger mirror failed CCT — critics
By Charlie V. Manalo

04/10/2011

As critics of President Aquino spotlight the failure of his administration’s P21.5 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program after the recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing an increase in the number of poor and hungry Filipinos, the Palace yesterday went on a publicity overdrive, saying the program is being stepped up and had claimed the CCT had covered 400,000 poor families.

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, however, said the SWS survey showing a consistent rise in the number of Filipinos growing hungry and poorer only shows the Aquino administration has failed to implement any concrete program that would uplift the livelihood of the people.

“This means that this administration has not implemented concrete programs to arrest unemployment, rising costs of commodities and services resulting to more hunger felt by the people,” Magsaysay said, adding that the administration’s conditional cash transfer program (CCT) which it lifted from the

Arroyo administration, was not as effective as they projected it to be.

The SWS, in its survey from March 4 to 7, using 1,200 respondents, revealed that 20.5 percent of respondents or about 4.1 million families saying they went hungry at least once in the past three months.

This was up from the 18.1 percent, an estimated 3.4 million families, recorded in November 2010, the SWS said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, nevertheless talked of an intensified CCT program which he claimed had extended assistance to 400,000 families as the Aquino government pursues its economic and social reforms to alleviate the condition of impoverished families.

Coloma said the CCT, which is being supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is fast evolving as a strategy to immediately mitigate the burden of poor families amid the global crisis.

The CCT program, known locally as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is a cash transfer program directly addresses the poverty problem, giving an average impoverished family a significant boost in annual income.

Apart from targeting significant increases in school enrolment of poor children, the program also seeks to improve the number of child immunization and prenatal medical care.

“Providing immediate financial help and attention to those families who are in dire need remains a top priority of President Aquino’s administration,” said Coloma.

The latest SWS survey, however, showed 51 percent or about 10.4 million families who considered themselves poor, two points up from November’s 49 percent.

About 8.1 million families or 40 percent, meanwhile, claimed to be “food-poor,” up by four points from 36 percent in the previous survey.

Magsaysay also chastised Aquino for his failure in his anti-corruption drive which he had been bragging as the centerpiece of his platform of government, saying the SWS survey results ran counter to his campaign slogan.

Running in the May 2010 presidential elections under the battle cry, “Walang mahirap kung walang corrupt,” Aquino promised a better life for the Filipinos by ridding the government of corruption.

However, Magsaysay said that the consistent increase of Filipinos becoming poorer would show that bAquino not only failed in his anti-corruption campaign, but that corruption has flourished well under his watch.

“So if we go by PNoy’s slogan and analogy, then it shows mas maraming corrupt ngayon,” Magsaysay averred.

In June last year, SWS showed 15% going hungry, increasing to 18% in November, and going up to 21% last month.

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) shared Magsaysay’s views on the CCT describing it as a general and catastrophic failure.

“If that is the case, then when did Malacañang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development conditionally transfer the remaining CCT funds under the previous administration and the present funds under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III? Mr. Aquino and his Secretary Dinky Soliman have been hyping that CCT will change the name of the ballgame in favor of starving folks? So where is that prophetic promise of the Aquino-Soliman charitable tandem?” said Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap.

“If more and more Filipino families are going hungry despite the massive flooding of cash in rural areas, then CCT is nothing but a white elephant, fundamentally defective and an across-the-nation tragedy rolled into one,” he added.

In the same SWS survey, 61 percent of the people in the Visayas rate themselves as poor from 53 percent last year, while in Mindanao, people’s self-rated poverty increased from 44 percent to 49 percent while in Luzon, people rated themselves as poor rose to 54 percent from 51 percent last year.

However, Aquino said the survey could have been more positive if SWS included respondents from the Visayas and Mindanao where 400,000 beneficiaries of the controversial CCT project was undertaken.

But Pamalakaya merely laughed out on the statement of the President, adding that Aquino was either misinformed or was not reading the survey which transpired last month.

“The data show 61 percent of the people in the Visayas and 49 percent of the people in Mindanao rate themselves as poor. Can’t imagine why Mr. Aquino can’t reconcile his facts and analysis,” said Pamalakaya.

Earlier, Pamalakaya asked on the House oversight committee tasked to monitor fund use and leakages of the CCT program in 2011 to investigate allegations that the fund intended for beneficiaries went to corruption last year.

The militant group made the call after it received several text messages from beneficiaries of CCT program in Barangay Vinisitahan, in Donsol, Sorsogon complaining about the distribution of CCT funds in their barangay.

Pamalakaya stressed the House oversight committee should immediately investigate these allegations of corruption of CCT funds last year, adding that the Vinisitahan case in Donsol is just a tip of the iceberg and that beneficiaries in other areas probably have their own stories to tell too.

The militant group said one of the recipients of the CCT program informed their office last Dec. 4, 2010 beneficiaries of conditional cash transfer went to the regional office of the DSWD to collect the funds only to find out that their names were scratched from the payroll list. Those who were still on the payroll list, however, only received 30 percent of what they are supposed to receive from the program which is P1, 400 per month.

The DSWD personnel in Legaspi City failed to offer any explanation to the CCT beneficiaries, according to another text message sent to Pamalakaya office.

“We don’t believe this is an isolated case. 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 our people for their own corruption racket. This is an indication that the bulk of the P21-billion CCT project will go to the pockets of corrupt state officials aside from financially supporting the evil agenda of Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said the incident should compel the House oversight committee to recall the P21-billion CCT dole-out program in 2011 and the indefinite suspension of the program while an investigation and review of the 2010 4Ps project are being undertaken.

“This case merits a full-blown inquiry by the House of Representatives and even the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. In the meantime, an indefinite suspension of the program becomes a necessity at this point in time that would eventually lead to the scrapping of the P21 billion for CCT program,” the group said.–Charlie Manalo, Daily Tribune

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