THE recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that more Filipinos are going hungry should not be equated with the success or failure of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the government since it has not even covered 20 percent of the country’s poorest of the poor.
Senator Franklin Drilon noted that although the survey reflects sentiments of the respondents it should not be used as basis in determining the effectiveness of the program.
“The CCT only covers 3.8 million families versus the lowest 20 percent of our population which is indicated to be 5.2 million per national household targeting system for poverty reduction data. So, I am not surprised at that result of the survey,” Drilon explained.
Nevertheless, the Senate finance committee chair said that they would take note of the survey results and would even ask the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) for a more detailed explanation to address the particular report.
The CCT program was introduced during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo. It provides a monthly cash assistance of at least P1,400 to the “poorest of the poor”.
Those enrolled in the program are required to have their children vaccinated, enrolled in school and parents should attend family planning seminars.
SWS in its survey conducted from March 19 to 22, showed a rise on the hunger incidence in the country during the first quarter of the 2013.
The survey firm stated that 19.2 percent of the 1,200 adult respondents experienced hunger during the first three months of the year which is higher than the 16.3 percent hunger incidence in December.
Meanwhile, hunger incidence in Metro Manila decreased by at least 4 points from 25.3 to 21.7. The situation in the entire Luzon also improved from 17.8 percent to 13.8 percent.
“I don’t think that you should equate the result of the survey done by the SWS with the success or failure of the CCT program,” Drilon said.
He also maintained that that the CCT program will continue in fact the government is set to allocate more funding to the program to cover more families.
The target is to cover 5.2 million families which according to Drilon represents 20 percent of the poorest of the poor population.
Drilon also assured that that the Senate would continue to exercise its oversight functions to check the implementation of the program.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said that the SWS survey should serve as cue for the government to focus on ensuring that all Filipinos feel the country’s stellar 6.6 percent Gross domestic product (GDP) growth and one way of doing it to come up with a program complimentary of the CCT.
Cayetano was referring to a program that will cater to working class people in need of capital to start their own business.
According to him the government should come up with a scheme wherein a simple certificate indicating that a person has gone through a livelihood seminar would be enough to allow a borrower to avail of a loan grant.
“Through this program, we will be able to teach Filipinos to “fish” rather than simply giving them fish,” he said.