Sagada, Mountain Province: Beneficiaries of the P64 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program here have decried criticisms on the government’s flagship anti-poverty program.
Claudia Daligdig and Rosie Beth Fiesta of Kalinga, Apayao, both scholars at Benguet State University under the CCT’s expanded student grant in aid program for poverty alleviation, said the program had been a great help to them.
“We want to appeal to the program’s detractors to please give it a chance, because we as beneficiaries know that without it we would not be given the chance to enroll in college and finish our studies” Daligdig said.
“Because of the CCT’s expanded education program, we were given the fair chance of attaining our dreams and become productive citizens,” she noted.
They were reacting to the calls by some critics who want the program abolished because it as a waste of people’s money and it perpetuates the culture of mendicancy.
The CCT is the government’s flagship anti-poverty initiative which grants cash assistance to families from the poorest of the poor provided that they comply with certain conditions. These conditions include the availment by pregnant women of pre-natal and post-natal care and for parents to send their children to school.
Also, parents must attend family development sessions, children 0 to 5 years old must receive regular preventive health check ups and vaccines, children 6 to 14 years old must receive de-worming pills twice a.
“It is easy for them to say that the program is a waste because they do not experience the hardships of our families, when you really don’t have enough money and you worry how your family would survive for another day,” Fiesta, whose family has been a CCT beneficiary since 2008, told The Manila Times.
The Fiesta household has six siblings, including Rosie Beth, whose mother is a plain housewife and the father is a carpenter.
Since her elder sister is in college, Rosie Beth had to wait for her to graduate before she can pursue a college education, until the CCT was expanded to include college scholarships.
Fiesta is now taking up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education at BSU.
Before the CCT was expanded, Fiesta worked as household help in Manila for one year and six months to save money for her college education.
Daligdig is also from Kalinga, Apayao like Fiesta, but her hometown is in a remote barrio and is 13 hours away from the university.
Daligdig lost her father at the tender age of 10, leaving her mother who works as a farmer to raise them on her own.
She stressed that CCT is not free because they have to work hard to maintain their scholarships, noting that without the program she could end up in a lifetime of poverty working as a household help.