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Cash for poor may end up in hands of jueteng lords—lawmaker

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 09:38:00 10/13/2010

Filed Under: Congress, Government Aid, Poverty, State Budget & Taxes

MANILA, Philippines?Several lawmakers continue to cast doubt on the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the Aquino government, with one of them even saying that the end beneficiary of the program?s huge budget would be the jueteng lords.

Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco said that stringent measures should be in place to guarantee that the money will trickle down to the poorest families in the country.

?Coming from the province of Pangasinan, the first thing the mother will do when she gets the money is to buy shoes and groceries, then the husband will go out and buy some gin, and whatever is left of the money is for betting, he would probably go and play jueteng,? said Cojuangco, former mayor of Sison town in the province.

?Guess who?s going to be the beneficiary from the CCT, the jueteng lords. I?m sorry, this is how I feel, these are my apprehensions,? she added during Tuesday?s night plenary deliberation of the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which will implement the CCT.

Under the program, the family that will be identified by the DSWD will receive a maximum of P1,400 per month for 10 months. Of the amount, P500 is for the mother provided that she will undergo regular maternal check-ups in the barangay clinic, while each child is allotted P300, with each family getting a maximum subsidy of P900 for three children, on the condition that they will regular attend classes.

Of the DSWD?s proposed budget of P34.3 billion for 2011, P21 billion is allotted to the CCT program.

The new budget targets to benefit 1.3 million households more, to add to the one million families already benefiting from the project.

But Cojuangco said the problems in a number of rural communities are more basic such as the lack of classroom and clinics. She said without these, ?the supposed requirements of the program cannot be implemented.?

Cojuangco added that the capacity of the DSWD should be assessed to ensure that its personnel can implement the program properly, otherwise, ?it would be a waste of money.?

?Our rural health units are not equipped for taking care of children . . ., our schools lack classrooms, all of these sound so good the way you describe it, but when you get down to the ground it is totally different situation,? she said.

Davao del Sur Representative Marc Douglas Cagas said the source of funding of the CCT, the $400 million loan from the Asian Development Bank, will tie the country down into debt, for 25 years, long after the five year completion of the program.

?Our grandchildren, sons, or daughters will still pay for the loan acquired with ADB (even after the program has expired),? he said.

Guimaras Representative Rahman Nava, the sponsor of the budget on the floor, said, ?That may be true, but I suppose the extended payment scheme is more beneficial rather than the short-term scheme.?



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