Palace open to CCT quiz

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MalacaÑang on Sunday said the government welcomes investigation of alleged anomalies in  implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, a government anti-poverty initiative.

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“Lagi pong bukas ang pamahalaan sa pagbibigay ng impormasyon na hinihiling at lagi po kaming bukas sa kooperasyon dahil ‘yan naman po ang umiiral sa pagitan ng ehekutibo at iba pang sangay ng pamahalaan [We are always open to giving solicited information and we are all for cooperation because that is what is taking place between the executive and other arms of the government],” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a radio interview.

Coloma made the statement after some lawmakers called for a special inquiry into and audit of the CCT program over reports that a number of the homeless were rounded up and brought to a luxury resort in a move  to rid Metro Manila  of  street people for the visit of Pope Francis.

The Palace official reiterated that the people can always take a look at books of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on the government’s centerpiece anti-poverty measure.

“Records of the DSWD, and any government agency involved in the CCT [program]implementation for that matter, are open for public scrutiny.

And every time Secretary (Corazon) Soliman faces Congress for budget deliberations, she answers all the questions of the lawmakers on the [program],” Coloma said.

He added that the CCT program is also being monitored by multilateral aid agencies such as the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Also on Sunday, an anti-poverty organization joined  the chorus of advocacy  groups as well as politicians criticizing Soliman for “hiding” street-dwelling families along Roxas Boulevard in Manila from the Pope, who was in the Philippines January 15-19.

The DSWD chief’s move, the Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) said in an e-mail statement, mocked efforts of individuals and institutions that are sincere and determined to eradicate poverty in the country.

Soliman’s explanation that the apparent vacation of  the homeless families in the resort in Batangas to attend a five-day “registration seminar”  merely  coincided with the scheduled papal visit is “a thinly-veiled alibi that even the uneducated and apolitical can see right through.”

The group depicted Soliman as the “epitome of all the politicians who gained personal access to the Pope  on several occasions during his five-day visit but completely missed the point of his speeches and homilies.”

“It was shameful enough to hide the poor from Pope Francis because he himself said that he came to the country for the poor but what is more appalling is that Secretary Soliman also used as an excuse that the objective of the seminar in Batangas was to uplift the lives of the poor,” KPML leader Orly Gallano for Metro Manila said.

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