Social welfare secretary bares CCT scam in Maguindanao
DAVAO City, Philippines—Some barangay officials in Maguindanao are exacting unauthorized cuts from the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) or cash doles to needy citizens, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said.
Soliman said her department had received reports that some barangay (village) captains hold the cards of a number of beneficiaries and get a portion of the amount for themselves.
“Natatakot ang mga taong magsasalita kasi meron silang baril (The people are afraid to talk because they are armed),” she said. “Even if we involve the civil society organizations in the work, most of them also don’t want to go to the area because they’re afraid for their lives.”
The presence of armed men in Central Mindanao, particularly in the province of Maguindanao, remains the biggest stumbling block in the implementation of the CCT program, which is aimed to reach the poorest of the poor, in the area, Soliman said.
Soliman said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, particularly the provinces in Central Mindanao, remains the biggest challenge to the program because of the presence of armed groups. The island provinces of Tawi Tawi, Basilan and Sulu, which reflect much higher poverty incidence, do not present such a problem, she added.
“It’s better in the island provinces but Central Mindanao remains a problem,” Soliman said. “We did our validation and we saw that some claiming to be the beneficiaries present their IDs and they were not the beneficiaries, but those who validate it cannot point that out because they are armed.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development had suspended the CCT in the three Maguindanao towns of Shariff Aguak, Rajah Buayan and Datu Saudi Ampatuan because of the problem, but after the department restored the program this year, the problem has begun to recur, Soliman said.
DSWD has identified 200,000 families for the CCT in the ARMM, 30 percent of them in Central Mindanao. In September to October this year alone, the department released P275 million in Central Mindanao for the CCT program.
But Soliman said the government no longer considers suspending the CCT program in Maguindanao again because of the problem. Instead, the government is eyeing the use of biometrics in the province of Maguindanao to verify the real beneficiaries of the program.
“We should not punish the people for the wrongdoing of their leaders,” Soliman said.
She said, however, they are still doing the computations for the cost that the new method will entail.
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