Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño and retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz have criticized the administration’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program calling it “degrading to human dignity” and “pure deception”, respectively.
The CCT program is a global development tool aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor and supported by the World Bank (WB). It is the equivalent of the country’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
CCT is a human development program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14. It requires recipient households to send children to public schools and mothers to regularly visit public health centers.
For 2011, the Aquino administration allocated P21 billion for the CCT to cover about 2.2 million poor Filipino households.
Over the short to medium term, the administration intends to spend much more on the program to increase the coverage to at least 4 million families.
Robert Zoellick, WB president, during his visit to the country, said that the Aquino administration’s policy on transparency and good governance is vital in the efforts to expand the CCT program, as it will help ensure that the money goes where it should.
Under the CCT program in the Philippines, each household receives a P500 monthly allowance to subsidize its basic food needs plus P300 for every child that goes to school. A maximum of three children can get the allowance.
The World Bank has provided loans to help the Philippine government bankroll its CCT program.
Zoellick said the developmental institution would continue to back the program, which he said was one of the best ways to spread the benefits of economic growth.
Making families send children to public school as a condition to get the cash benefit is believed to be a good strategy to ensure education of school-age children and aid in the country’s long-term economic development.
According to Casiño people they have talked to preferred jobs and livelihood opportunities over the CCT. “They do not like this dole-out,” he said.
But this is exactly what the CCT is all about – social assistance, where cash assistance is provided to the poor to alleviate their immediate need and social development, where poverty cycle is addressed through investments in human capital.
Program as complicated and extensive as the CCT is not easy to implement, not only because it covers a large number of beneficiaries, but also because the program implementation is a shared responsibility among different government institutions that cuts across levels and among multiple departments.
But the Aquino administration is relentless pursuing this program and trying hard to make the economic conditions better by running after corrupt government officials and creating a friendly investment environment in order to spur growth and development that would create jobs for the people.
About 40 other World Bank member-countries implement a conditional subsidy program for the poor. Not one is complaining.
Instead of criticizing, it would be best if we all lend our support to the president.
As to retired Archbishop Cruz, leave politics to the State. Some of your Church dioceses are not well managed, too. Besides, what has the Church done really for the country’s poor?