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DSWD delists 164 families from CCT to protect integrity of aid program

BAGUIO CITY—The government has removed 164 families in the Cordillera from the list of beneficiaries of its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program since 2008 as part of efforts to protect the financial aid system from abuse.

Only a few of the rejected beneficiaries received their subsidies, but they have yet to be asked to return the money, said Leonardo Reynoso, director of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) in the Cordillera. He did not identify the provinces where they live.

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Complaints

When the CCT system was launched in Bangued, Abra, three years ago, a policy requiring field coordinators to process complaints against any beneficiary was introduced.

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Reynoso said the disowned were teachers, school principals and village leaders who never qualified for the CCT program. Some of the teachers volunteered to leave when told that they lacked qualifications.

“[The money claimed by rejected CCT families] would be a problem later with [government auditors], but our policymakers are studying how best to address that issue. The amounts [released to them] were small. Deleting a family from the list is [a long process] because we don’t want genuine poor households to be delisted [just because of complaints],” Reynoso said.

DSWD case workers and CCT field coordinators also seek out beneficiaries who do not  fulfill their obligations.

‘Problematic households’

Reynoso said the department was investigating beneficiaries in the towns of Conner, Cabugao and Calanasan in Apayao, where the agency noted the biggest cluster of “problematic households.” The three towns rated 75 percent for “noncompliance.”

But instead of immediately removing these households from the program, the DSWD will first determine why the children of these Apayao families failed to go to school or why their mothers have not regularly submitted to medical examinations—conditions imposed to ensure that beneficiaries would receive subsidies.

“We need to approach their situation from a wider perspective because we do not know what problems they deal with. Are the schools too far?” Reynoso said.

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Reynoso said the CCT, introduced by then Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, was designed to evolve.

Each regional office is now equipped with a map showing where the beneficiaries live, and which schools and clinics are closest to their homes. The map, Reynoso said, was one of the strategies enforced by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to protect the CCT system from problems.

Regional offices have also adopted other measures to deal with local issues not covered by the CCT manual of operations.

For instance, the DSWD Cordillera office coordinated with Department of Education offices in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley to allow CCT coordinators to access the school records of the other regions, Reynoso said.

Some of the poor families send their children to schools in nearby regions, which have no CCT beneficiaries and are therefore outside the scope of CCT monitoring systems, he said.

‘Graduate’ from grant

The system will further improve after the DSWD review of the accomplishments of the first batch of beneficiaries, who were signed up in 2008 and who will “graduate” from the grant subsidy mechanism in 2012, he said.

“Before we let them go, we need to make sure their lives have improved. So we are unloading other social programs [that would teach them new skills or introduce them to new livelihood activities] before 2012,” Reynoso said.

The Cordillera started out with 13,630 CCT beneficiaries and the number has grown to 24,565 families. Every month, they receive up to P1,400 each in health and education subsidies.

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TAGS: Abra, Children, Conditional cash transfers, Cordillera, DSWD, Education, Government, Health, Regions
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