CCT program still a work in progress

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is still a work in progress and its implementor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, does not pretend to claim that it is being smoothly implemented.

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Overall, however, the program is seen as a success since the poorest of the poor are saved from hunger while their children receive health care and go to elementary and secondary schools.

Edward Gonzales, chief of DSWD social marketing office, said families who fail to fulfill conditions like bringing children to health care stations regularly, sending their children to school with at least 85 percent attendance and attending the monthly family development session are immediately delisted.

Gonzales admitted that several irregularities involving the program are under investigation such as the hoarding of automated machine cards (ATMs) by politicians, especially in Muslim areas. Some Muslim leaders forcibly take the ATMs from beneficiaries to make it appear that they are the source of the cash benefits.

Assistant Secretary Javier Jimenez said as of April this year, the number of beneficiaries reached 3,990,806 million households—1,695,552 in Luzon; 812,573 in the Visayas; and 1,482,681 in Mindanao.

“The Aquino administration targets 4.3 million households by end of 2016,” Jimenez added.

Each of these 3.99 million beneficiaries receive P1,400 monthly for a family of three, or P300 for each child. For health care, each family receives P500 regardless of the number of children.

If a household has a high school student, instead of P300 it is upgraded to P500.

Thus, a family with two children and a high school student will receive P1,600 a month.

Jimenez said P2 billion of the P62.2 billion has been allotted for the 7,007 homeless street children and 8,956 itinerant indigenous peoples families in urban areas.

DSWD officials said the CCT program is currently being implemented in 41,342 barangays, 144 cities, 14,483 towns and 80 provinces.

The expanded CCT program or the coverage of high school students, according to social welfare officials here, was based on studies conducted in Mexico, Colombia, Bangladesh and Cambodia where the locally known Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps originated.

Gonzales said the family development session (FDS) is a Philippine innovation that has been proved to be an effective forum where beneficiaries share their experiences and discuss problems they are encountering.

A monitoring system is in place, namely compliance, grievance and update which are very effective in tracing if beneficiaries are complying with the conditions and if the money is used as it is intended.

“There are CCT beneficiaries who used the money as capital for small business like establishing a congee stall. At least the children were fed regularly and were sent to school with food in their stomach,” Gonzales said.

He added that some beneficiaries have volunteered to be delisted after being “able to establish a profitable small business. Some were able to send their husbands abroad as overseas workers.”

Jimenez said by 2015, the CCT budget will be raised to P78.5 billion since many elementary-school pupils will graduate and will enrol in high school.

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