Press Release
January 15, 2016

Presidential backing, passage of CCT law needed to protect it
from shift in political winds

To protect the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program from "any shift in political winds," the principal author of the bill institutionalizing the social protection program has asked President Aquino to certify it as urgent.

Sen. Ralph Recto, principal author of two measures that provide a "lasting legal framework" to CCT's operation, said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman has requested Malacanang for such an endorsement.

In her August 11, 2015 letter to President Aquino, Soliman said CCT's institutionalization will guarantee "that poor households shall continue to enjoy better education and health outcomes for an improved quality of life."

Soliman cited "impact evaluations done on the program in 2012 and 2014" on how the program "can break intergenerational cycle of poverty."

"It closed 1/4th of the poor's income gap, thus enabling (them) to move closer to the minimum income level required to transcend poverty," she said in asking for presidential certification of the proposed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act.

Recto filed the said bill in July 2013. Senate Bill 1152 defines the 4Ps' scope, objectives, program grants and conditionalities, monitoring and evaluation.

In September last year, he filed his second CCT-related bill. SB 2954 seeks "to review and adjust grants every six years."

Recto said the CCT "must have a charter" so it can continue despite scheduled changes in the national leadership.

"We are witness on how good programs in the past were jettisoned when the new order came along. What we can't predict is that those who are swept to power will not immediately sweep away good programs," Recto said.

"In the case of the CCT, two tendencies must be avoided," Recto said. "The first is to emasculate it that it becomes ineffective. The other is to expand it tremendously that it becomes financially unsustainable."

While he supports the CCT, Recto said the program can stand some reforms and improvements.

"We have to bring more homeless, the lumads, into the fold of the program. More persons with disabilities must join, too. A certain percentage of beneficiaries must be kept in reserve for victims of typhoons," Recto said.

"There should also be a mechanism in which poor people needing protracted medical care, like diabetics sustained by dialysis, can become beneficiaries," he said.

On the cost of running the program, Recto has been consistent in pushing for a reduction of the overhead.

Last year, for example, P6.2 billion of the 4Ps' P62.32 billion budget went to administrative costs such as bank fees, trainings, spot checks, among others, Recto said.

"But to the credit of (DSWD Secretary) Dinky Soliman, she is paring down costs, and expanding the coverage of beneficiaries, including homeless families and lumads," he said.

As of latest count, 395,752 are lumad households while 220,431 are families caring for a person with disability.

His bill, he explained, defines the parameters of the program, "so there will be no financial overruns, no bloating of activities."

He said a preliminary research by his office showed that the Arroyo and Aquino governments had borrowed $905 million, or P42.5 billion in today's exchange, to finance the CCT.

Two proposed loans worth $850 million are reportedly in the pipeline.

Under the CCT, a P500 monthly stipend is given to poor families with children 5 years and below on the condition that they undergo vaccination and periodic health check up.

An education grant of P300 to P900 for elementary students, and P500 to P1500 for high school students, are given to a household per month provided the students maintain an 85% school attendance rate.

As of 2015, 4Ps has expanded to 41,344 barangays in all 144 cities and 1,483 municipalities in 80 provinces, with a total of 4,436,732 households.

For 2016, it has a budget of P62.7 billion.

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