UN award for Manila’s anti-poverty program should be recalled— Pamalakaya
By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Gloria Madonna Velarde and Keluar Ramayana-Bintang
MANILA, Philippines— The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today urged organizers of the United Nations (UN) led MY Outreach Award for Asia Pacific and Oceania to take back the award given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its efforts in promoting MY World by allowing the “voices of the poorest of the poor” conditional cash transfer (CCT) beneficiaries be heard.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the award bestowed by UN to DSWD as far as CCT is concerned is a major insult to the collective intelligence and common sentiment of the Filipino people on the cash transfer program.
“The UN award to DSWD as far as CCT is concerned is a grand disaster. It is a recognition of something that should not be glorified in the first place. We ask the UN and the organizers of MY World Outreach Award for Asia-Pacific and Oceania to come to their senses and recall this dime-a-dozen recognition for CCT,” the Pamalakaya official added.
The award to DSWD in connection with CCT stemmed from MY World, a global survey conducted by the United Nations that asks respondents to choose their priorities for a better world. The results will be shared with world leaders in setting the next global development agenda.
The government is implementing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which provides educational and health cash grants of as much as P1,400 to a family with three qualified children.
The Philippine government chose recipients of the controversial CCT program to be interviewed in grand design to promote the poverty alleviation program of the Aquino administration.
The DSWD said it assisted the United Nations in conducting its surveys during Family Development Sessions (FDS) with Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan accepted the award on behalf of DSWD during the MY World Partner Recognition Awards Ceremony held in New York on September this year.
Pamalakaya’s France said is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt for World Bank sponsored poverty eradication program like CCT. Pamalakaya told organizers of MY World outreach award that many sectors in the Philippines are calling for an oversight inquiry on CCT and these sectors had questioned repeatedly the P 62-billion budget for 2014, which Congress appropriated for the poverty alleviation program.
The proposed P 62-B CCT fund for 2014 will cover 4.3 million poor households in the country from 3.9 million poor households in 2013.
The government said the amount would cover 132,000 homeless families. Pamalakaya said the UN and My World Outreach group should be informed that many concerned sectors in the country have perpetually accused the government of exploiting the sorry situation of the poor to justify the huge allocation for and use the CCT for other purposes such as shopping of political patronage, guaranteed funds for corruption of government officials allied with the ruling political party and even counter-insurgency agenda.
“The people in the UN and MY World Outreach group should be informed that the Philippine Congress has been consistently pressed to investigate the CCT,due to scandals hounding the anti-poverty program over the last decade that include but not limited to the general fatal failure of the program to eliminate poverty, grand promotion of mendicancy and pauperism and triple platinum crimes of corruption,” said Pamalakaya.
Citing recent Census figures provided by the National Statistical Coodination Board (NSCB) revealed that despite the surge in the economy and the aggressive campaign against poverty thru the CCT program, the Philippine government, Pamalakaya noted that the CCT program failed to make a headway in cutting poverty in the country with more than one out of 4 Filipinos deemed poor.
“The July 2012 poverty rate of 27.9 percent is practically unchanged from 2006 and 2009 data, according to NSCB. It said Filipinos forced to live below US$0.62 a day are considered poor, according to the government’s poverty threshold.
If that is the case, then I strongly urge lawmakers to pursue an oversight investigation of the CCT program and have it abolished for good in the same way many sectors want to do on the pork barrel of congressmen and President Benigno Simeon Aquino III,” said Pamalakaya.
The group insisted that the congressional inquiry on the performance of CCT shall also include the missing P 3.77 B worth of CCT fund which the Commission on Audit (COA) found as unreported or unaccounted in 2011.
“Mr. Aquino as warranted by public interest are obliged to explain and deliver a full-blown accounting of the P 3.77 B CCT funds which are either sourced from or paid by taxpayers’ money in 2011. If there’s no crime corruption here, then Aquino must come clean and prove the funds are accounted properly and judiciously spent in accordance with public welfare and national interest,” said Pamalakaya.
The group said CCT is nothing but a long-running multi-billion wastage of taxpayers’ money and an institutional funding for mendicancy and across-the-nation begging. “Malacanang and Congress should stop banking on CCT which is a both a dismal and fatal failure,” the group said.
Pamalakaya said the President should indefinitely suspend the CCT program and allow Congress’ oversight committee to assess the performance of the anti-poverty measure since its birth up to present.
“For the sake of the taxpaying public and public welfare, it is necessary to save the remaining billions of hard-earned taxpayers’ money from red carpet wastage. ###
Source: All Voices