Politics is getting in the way of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, a promising financial scheme aimed at helping the poor, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Monday.
Pimentel, one of the principal authors of the Local Government Code that devolved services to city and municipal governments, assailed the discretion enjoyed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in disbursing billions of pesos for the program.
“Why is the department heading the program when its task has already been devolved to local government units?” he asked on the sidelines of an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Local Government Code.
“All I can see here, to answer my question, is politics. The government should give [the program’s administration] to LGUs (local government units),” the former senator said.
The DSWD is asking for a P39.4-billion budget in 2012 for the CCT program, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, for distribution to three million families, up from the current 2.3 million.
The poverty reduction program encourages mothers in poor communities to send their children to school and to undergo regular vaccinations, and to have checkups at health centers.
Under the program, each household can get between P800 and P1,400 a month in health and education benefits, depending on the number of children (at most three per family).
Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara on Saturday pushed for reciprocal services from millions of poor families benefiting from the program.
Angara said the families could be tapped in national environmental programs starting at the barangay level to help communities cope with the growing threat of climate change.
“There must be reciprocity in the current conditional cash transfer program to erase criticisms that the program is just another form of dole,” he said.
Angara said able family members should lend their services to activities like tree planting and the cleaning of canals, rivers and other waterways within their respective areas.
Under the proposed P1.816-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2012 which was approved recently by the House of Representatives, the Department of Budget and Management has allotted provisions for the so-called “lifeline to the poor.”
Aside from the P39.5 billion for the CCT, P1.2 billion is allotted for the social pensions of 198,370 poor people aged 75 years and over. They are to receive P500 each monthly.
The proposed amount is 38 percent higher than the 2011 total of P871 million, which covers 138,960 beneficiaries.
Also included in the lifeline program for the poor is P2.9 billion for the DSWD’s supplemental feeding program to help provide nutritious meals to 1.6 million children enrolled in day-care centers nationwide