SEN. Juan Miguel Zubiri has urged the government to expand the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to include indigenous people (IP) in Mindanao to dissuade them from joining the New People’s Army (NPA).
He asked Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza on Monday to review the implementation of the CCT, also called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
There are over 4.4 million family-beneficiaries of 4Ps, an anti-poverty alleviation measure that seeks to eradicate extreme poverty. Under the program, poor families are given P1,400 financial aid monthly with the condition that they will send their children to school.
Zubiri, who hails from Bukidnon, noted that 30 percent of the population in Mindanao are IPs. “And the number of IPs in Bukidnon reaches about 400,000. They are not focused on education,” he said.
“So now we are trying to get the children of the IP communities to go back to school because it is their attitude not to go to school and just go to farm. If they are not educated, we all know that they will have a difficult life,” he said.
“These are the same people that are giving Secretary Dureza problems because they are being recruited by the New People’s Army at a cost of one sack of rice a month,” Zubiri said during the Senate deliberation on the proposed budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
He learned about this from IP leaders themselves two months ago during an anti-poverty summit. “Sabi nila, wala po kaming magagawa. Ang mga anak namin ang sumasama. Binibigyan ng one sack of rice ng NPA para sumama sa bundok (We can’t do anything about it. It’s our children who wanted to join (the NPA). They were given one sack of rice to entice them to go with them to the mountains).”