Groups welcome congressional probe on CCT

MILITANT groups welcomed the decision of the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Senator Franklin Drilon and Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations to subject this year’s P 39 billion budget for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the Aquino government to an oversight investigation.

But Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France and Anakpawis party list vice chairperson Fernando Hicap said aside from probing the CCT effectiveness in uplifting the conditions of the poor, the investigation should also expand to other aspects of the CCT fund use like corruption of local government officials and the counter-insurgency purposes under Oplan Bayanihan.

Both leaders claimed their respective organizations have been receiving complaints from CCT beneficiaries that they don’t receive their CCT fund in full and on regular basis. France and Hicap maintained that instead of receiving the monthly P 1,400 support for indigent family, there are cases where beneficiaries receive only P 600 and P 900 only and they don’t receive it on monthly basis.

The groups also said CCT beneficiaries are also threatened with exclusion from the program once they join progressive and militant organizations highly critical of the Aquino government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), clear indication that the anti-poverty program is being used or levelled against legitimate political activities and associations. The groups asserted these irregularities and political undertones attributed to CCT were reported in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Sorsogon and Iloilo to cite few. Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list believe these issues against CCT implementation are taking place nationwide. Both groups said the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) is seeking P 45 billion in CCT funds for next year, an increase of P 6 billion from this year’s P 39 billion budget for the cash transfer program alone.

They had warned that the P 45 billion might exploited anew for patronage politics, crimes of corruption, electoral campaign and counter-insurgency operations.

The two said instead of approving the proposed P 45-B budget for CCT next year, congressmen and senators should pursue an in-depth investigation and audit performance of the CCT program which was introduced during the term of former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Recently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad on Monday said the 30 percent increase in CCT budget next year represents two-thirds of the over-all budget of the social welfare department.

Social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman said the department is seeking a P 67-B budget next year, of which P 45-B will be spent for CCT beneficiaries. She said the increase in CCT fund will enable the department to support an additional 700,000 poor families all over the country.

The groups said CCT beneficiaries are told not to join militant organizations and party lists like Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Pamalakaya, the urban poor Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). Sen. Drilon on Wednesday said the Aquino administration’s P39-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, the government’s poverty alleviation agenda, will be subjected to an oversight committee review in preparation for the upcoming deliberations of the 2013 proposed national budget.

The administration senator argued it is pertinent that Congress conducts a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the conditional cash transfer program that is primarily conceptualized to uplift the lives of the poorest Filipino families.

Drilon said he is keen to undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of anti-poverty program and make ensure that only those from the poorest families are included.

The Aquino ally in Senate also wanted an assurance that the program will not be used by politicians in the 2013 elections.

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