THE youth group Anakbayan on Tuesday slammed the Aquino administration for using the Conditional Cash Transfer dole program as “legalized vote buying” and also for the supposed use of public funds in the campaign of candidates running under Liberal Party.
“Out of desperation to let [last-placer] Mar Roxas win the presidential contest at all costs, the Aquino government is contributing all the resources under its command for the ruling party’s campaign,” said Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo.
He said patronage politics is the real meaning of President Benigno Aquino III’s “straight path,” recalling statements by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman who publicly warned voters that “the fate of these programs would now be up to people voting for new leaders in the 2016 elections.”
Crisostomo said this is on top of the CCTs’ failure as an anti-poverty measure and the diversion of funds that should have been directly allotted for social services. For 2016, P64 billion will be allotted for the 4Ps, more than half of the DSWD’s P110.8-billion budget.
The Commission on Audit previously criticized the dole program, pointing out that many beneficiaries are not actually poor and that billions in funds remain unliquidated. Despite the increase in the 4Ps budget in past years, CoA also noted a decline in the number of program beneficiaries.
“The CCTs is being used by the Aquino government to buy votes and get support of local government for the Roxas campaign. 4Ps assemblies have been transformed into election sorties where beneficiaries are threatened with the slashing of doleouts if Roxas doesn’t win the presidency,” Crisostomo said.
He also slammed the use of government vehicles and other facilities for the Roxas campaign as shown by the social media postings of netizens to protest the misuse of public funds for electoral purposes.
Some of these include a photo of a government pickup used in a postering operation for Roxas in Zamboanga Sibugay and the photos of government dump trucks loaded with LP campaign materials and Dipolog City government buses reportedly used to welcome Roxas in Dipolog City.
“We call on Comelec to disqualify LP candidates using public funds including Mar Roxas. We call on candidates for the 2016 elections to reject CCTs and stop the 4Ps program. It is a failed and discredited anti-poverty measure. It is nothing but legalized vote-buying,” Crisostomo said.
The government is implementing the 4Ps program in all the 17 regions in the country, covering 79 provinces, 143 cities and 1,484 municipalities. Beneficiaries are selected through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction, which identifies who and where the poor are in the country.
The 4Ps program is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18.
It is patterned after the conditional cash transfer schemes in Latin American and African countries, which have lifted millions of people around the world from poverty.
The program also helps the government fulfill its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, specifically in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, in achieving universal primary education, in promoting gender equality, in reducing child mortality, and in improving maternal health care.
As of August 26, 2015, there are 4,353,597 active household-beneficiaries, of which 570,056 are indigenous households and 217,359 have at least one person with disability. The program also covers 10,235,658 schoolchildren aged 0 to 18, from the total registered with an average of two to three children per household.
The 4Ps has two types of cash grants that are given out to household-beneficiaries:
health grant: P500 per household every month, or a total of P6,000 every year
education grant: P300 per child every month for ten months, or a total of P3,000 every year (a household may register a maximum of three children for the program)
For a household with three children, a household may receive P1,400 every month, or a total of P15,000 every year for five years, from the two types of cash grants given to them.