Cash transfer agencies told: Beware of politicians

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09:59 PM September 26th, 2012

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September 26th, 2012 09:59 PM

QUEUES by beneficiaries of the government’s cash transfer program have become a familiar sight where the program is being implemented, like in Mauban, Quezon, where the local Land Bank of the Phils. branch gets filled with cash claimants every month. DELFIN T. MALLARI JR/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—Poor families previously ineligible for cash transfer would now be covered by the program but officials in charge of it expressed concern the program would be used by politicians to court votes.

Irene Bungay, Cordillera project coordinator for the program called 4Ps, said a group in Kalinga and another one here have submitted proposals and a list of people for validation by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and possible inclusion in the cash transfer program.

Janet Armas, DSWD Cordillera operations chief, said the program is generally safe from political influence because its beneficiaries are identified by the National Household Targeting System (NHTS), a comprehensive survey done by the government.

The list of beneficiaries, she said, is subject to regular review.

But politicians could try to sway votes by joining DSWD-led family education and livelihood enrichment forums, which beneficiaries join, so social workers are being asked to discourage politicians from joining these assemblies, Armas said.

According to Bungay, the modified 4Ps program would reach out to families of street children, the homeless and those displaced by calamities.

These groups, she said, require “special protection.”

The Baguio proposal would benefit 1,713 families while the Kalinga proposal would benefit 1,000 households, she said.

Groups will distribute funds appropriated by the DSWD. They will follow the mechanisms of 4Ps, the bridge program that provides poor households P500 in monthly stipend and up to P900 additional allowances for the family’s first three children who are in grade school. These are released on the condition that their first three children, who are no older than 14, are enrolled and attend classes regularly.

The modified Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program will require beneficiaries to ensure that their children regularly undergo medical checkups at government health centers.

Bungay said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman had issued a memorandum urging social workers and volunteer nongovernment organizations to protect the program from politicians running for various positions in the 2013 elections.

The DSWD said the CCT program serves 54,935 poor Cordillera families.

The agency would also need to address another pilot program, which allowed the city government to finance its own CCT in 2009.

Betty Fangasan, city social welfare officer, said the Baguio CCT aids 40 households in San Antonio Village, who failed to qualify for the 4Ps, as part of the DSWD’s objective to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The MDG is a set of poverty-alleviation targets identified by United Nations member-states and the world’s leading development institutions. The goals range from reducing extreme poverty to stopping the spread of HIV-AIDS and providing universal primary education by 2015.

The DSWD gave the city government a grant to cover CCT funds for San Antonio Village from 2009 and 2010. In 2011, the city council had appropriated P1.2 million to sustain the Baguio CCT program for San Antonio, Fangasan said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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