National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) chairperson Liza Maza on Thursday backed calls for the gradual phase out of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, saying it does not address poverty.
The CCT, also called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, was the centerpiece anti-poverty program of the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Under the program, poor families are given a monthly stipend on several conditions – that parents will send their children to school and have them checked regularly in barangay health centers.
But Maza said the CCT does not ease poverty.
“By its very concept, I believe that CCT will not address poverty. I don’t think it will ever, ever address poverty,” Maza said in a news briefing in Malacañanang.
“In the past, poverty alleviation is seen to be market-centered. There are programs such as the CCT that’s focused on such platform. And if you ask us if the CCT is helping the poor, we can say that no, it does not,” she added.
At least 4.4 million households benefit from the CCT program. Beneficiaries are also required to attend family development sessions and must train to operate their preferred livelihood projects.
But for the NAPC head, solving poverty should be viewed in a more comprehensive perspective.
“To end poverty, we must address its roots in underdevelopment and inequality. That is why we have decided to focus our efforts on policy advocacy since many of the things that we need to end poverty require new policy or fundamental changes in existing policy,” Maza said.
“To be able to uplift the country from poverty, we need an anti-poverty plan, an anti-poverty program,” she added.
The former lawmaker expressed optimism that the Duterte administration will reduce poverty.
“The NAPC is pushing for measures on genuine agrarian reform and rural development such as House Bill 555 and National Industrialization,” Maza said, referring to the measures being advocated by her allies in Congress.
“I think that if we institute these reforms we can attain poverty reduction from 9 to 15 percent. If you are going to institute genuine agrarian reform, if we start to develop our national industry which will spur the economic development,” she added.