Press Release
March 3, 2016

Recto: There is still time to pass CCT bill

Not all is lost for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) bill, as there is a three-week post-election window in which the Senate can pass the measure institutionalizing a program all presidential candidates have agreed must be strengthened, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

"Pagkatapos ng eleksyon sa Mayo, balik trabaho sa Senado. Kaya ang isang pwede pagpuyatan ay ang CCT bill. We have three weeks to do it and in lawmaking, that's enough time to finalize a bill," he said.

Both houses of Congress will reconvene on May 23 for a three-week session that will end in June 10, or 20 days before the new president is sworn into office.

Though dismissed as a lameduck session, Recto would rather call it "a time to create a legacy."

Once passed by Congress, Recto expects the bill to be signed by President Aquino. "If that is the last thing he will do before he turns off the light in his office for the last time, okay lang. It would only mean that he's signing the best for last."

Two bills by Recto institutionalizing the CCT "is on the final stretch of committee deliberation," the senator explained, "Tapos na, report na lang ang kulang."

The committee to which it was referred--Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development--is chaired by Sen. Nancy Binay.

Recto said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman has requested Malacañang to officially back the measure, a move that will speed up its approval.

In her Aug. 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."

Recto said the bills would provide a "lasting legal framework" to CCT's operation and protect it from "any shift in political winds."

Recto filed Senate Bill 1152 in July 2103 to define the 4Ps' scope, objectives, program grants and conditionalities, monitoring and evaluation.

In September 2015, 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.

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

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 P1,500 for high school students, are given to a household per month provided the students maintain an 85% school attendance rate.

As of 2015, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (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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