SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito is calling for an impact assessment of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program of the government to determine if it has been successful in lowering poverty incidence in the country.
Ejercito, in a radio interview over dzBB on Sunday, said he wants to know the real situation because the CCT Program has become too costly for the government and yet has produced few significant results on the lives of poor Filipino families.
Former President Benigno Aquino 3rd , during his term, stepped up implementation of the program, also called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), but Ejercito said it did not even dent the country’s poverty rate.
Worse, according to the senator, the 4Ps was used by Aquino’s his allies in politics.
Ejercito clarified that he was not calling for abolition of the poverty alleviation program, noting that such move is tantamount to political suicide for the Duterte administration, but that change must be put in place in order for the program to be more effective and fair for taxpayers who are footing the CCT program’s bill.
“For me, no matter how I look at it, the 4Ps is still a dole-out mechanism,” he said during the radio interview.
The Senator noted that because beneficiaries have been receiving easy money, some of them tend to spend it on things that they are not supposed to like gambling, food for festivals and even hair rebonding.
Ejercito said if that is the case, it would be better for the government to set aside the 4Ps funds directly for education and health.
The 4Ps provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition and the education of children aged 0-18.
A monthly grant of P1,400 is given to a household with three children, or a total of P15,000 every year for five years.
In exchange beneficiaries must avail themselves of pre- and post-natal care and must be attended during childbirth by a trained professional; children aged 0-5 must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines; children aged 6-14 must undergo deworming twice a year; and children aged 3-18 must enroll in school and maintain an attendance of at least 85 percent of class days every month.
Ejercito, in calling for the impact assessment, said it is important to determine if the conditions set by the government are being met by the beneficiaries.
He also noted that for 2017, the budget allocation for the CCT Program is about P70 billion, which is more than enough funding to make college education in state universities and colleges or SUCs free for everyone.
Ejercito has filed Senate Resolution 123, asking the proper Senate committee to revisit the implementation and status of the program.