Enrile tells DSWD: Account for CCT funds prior to extra budget OK

Published by rudy Date posted on May 27, 2011

Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should be made to account on how the funds allotted for the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program are being disbursed before making any increase in the project’s funding.

Enrile also dared Malacañang to require DSWD to fully disclose how the program has been implemented thus far and provide a full accounting of the funds before it increases the CCT budget from P21 billion to P23 billion.

Last week, the Tribune exposed that the DSWD had increased its approved budget for CCT of P21 billion by P2 billion to P23 billion, without passing through Congress and with Malacañang admitting that Budget Secretary Butch Abad was looking for funds to add to the DSWD budget.

The lawmaker noted that while the CCT program involves billions of pesos, the DSWD has yet to prove that CCT funds are being spent for its intended purpose.

He further warned that, if left unscrutinized, this program can be a perfect breeding ground for corruption.

“We need to know the status of the implementation of the project for us to see why there is a need for an additional P2 billion budget for the program. We should not blindly increase funding for the project without knowing how the original funds allocated for the project have been used,” Enrile said.

“We have to remember that this program has been running since the previous administration, but until now we have not seen how DSWD is using the money, or if the full amount of assistance really goes to beneficiaries, or if the beneficiaries chosen are really poor families who need this assistance,” he added.

First implemented under then President Gloria Arroyo’s administration, the CCT program – also dubbed as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program – provides conditional cash grants of P1,400 per month to poor families throughout the country. It was later carried over and expanded by the Aquino administration.

Enrile, in particular, challenged President Aquino to shed light and provide transparency in the implementation of the program.

How President Aquino will handle the implementation of the CCT program will reflect on his resolve in curbing corruption in government which was a cornerstone of his platform during his campaign for the presidency, Enrile noted.

“For many Filipinos, the CCT project will serve as an acid test of President Aquino’s administration and will reveal if he really walks his talk of rooting out corruption in government and whether or not he will deliver on his main campaign promise,” Enrile said.

“We are talking here about giving out billions of pesos, and yet the public is in the dark about how this program is being implemented,” he ended.

Various sectors, including lawmakers, have earlier questioned DSWD’s capacity to properly roll out the P21-billion program.

Some have even raised concern over the lack of controls to ensure that poor families really benefit from the program, saying the funds may end up in the pockets of corrupt government officials. –Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune

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