The government will complete the distribution of cash grants to poor families throughout the country before March 29 to avoid being accused of using the program to further the election chances of administration candidates.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the distribution of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) funds to more than 3 million poor households this year has been front-loaded so it can be completed before the local campaign period begins on March 29.
She said the P1,800 monthly cash incentive for the period January to February was given in advance in February. The government will return after the elections to check the beneficiaries’ compliance with the conditions, she said.
“We will finish providing all the cash grants for the 3.8 million families by March 27,” she told a briefing in Malacañang.
Opposition senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday said he and other opposition candidates were worried that the CCT would be used to entice recipients to vote for President Aquino’s handpicked Team PNoy senatorial candidates. Another opposition candidate, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, called on the government to suspend the program.
Soliman also said the government was rolling out an anti-epal (credit grabbers) campaign on radio to inform CCT beneficiaries that no local official is authorized to strike them off the list.
“Not the mayor, not the governor, not the congressman or congresswoman could remove your name on the list. Only you could do that. If you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement or misuse the money, then expect to be removed from the DSWD list,” she said.
An administrative case for grave abuse of authority could be filed against a politician threatening to remove a person or his family from the official list of beneficiaries, Soliman said. She said individuals could forward their complaints to this DSWD telephone number: 09189122813.
In the same manner, no politician can include an unqualified person’s name in the list of beneficiaries, she said.
The government has allotted P44.3 billion for the CCT this year, under which a poor family gets P1,800. In return, the mother has to undergo regular pre-natal checkups and the children regularly attend school.