Press Release
September 8, 2016

Villar commends DSWD for adding a livelihood
component in CCT model

Sen. Cynthia Villar today commended the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for relenting to her earlier plea to come up with a better version of the government's conditional cash transfer program.

During the organizational meeting of the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development presided over by Villar, Usec. Florita Villar of the DSWD Operation and Program Group, informed the senators that the agency already had an initial talk with the National Food Authority, Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission, on a plan that will provide rice subsidy to CCT family-beneficiaries.

The monthly rice subsidy of 20 kilos of rice per household-beneficiary will be given on top of the cash grant.

Under the plan, corporate farming will be developed wherein local government units will be capacitated and assisted by the DA for them to organize their farmers. These farmerswill be the ones who will produce the requirement for the rice subsidy.

"Ipa-pilot muna sa four areas-- QC, Mindoro. Next meeting we will map kung ano iyong distribution ng Pantawid, at alin ang rice-producing. Hindi tayo bibili sa traders kundi sa produce ng farmers so that the income of the farmers will increase," Usec. Villar said.

Senator Villar first raised questions on the usefulness of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) during the Development Budget Coordinating Committee briefing on the P3.35 trillion proposed 2017 budget last month after figures showed that the program failed to bring down poverty incidence in the country. From the present P62 billion, next year's CCT program has a proposed budget of P78 billion.

"It is unfortunate that after spending billions of pesos and doing this for years, poverty level has not moved at 27 percent. It was 27 percent in 2010, it's still 27 percent in 2016. That's why I would like to exercise my oversight functions. I want to know if you have studied your model because I am thinking that there must be something wrong with the model that after six years of spending so much money, we did not make a dent on the poverty of the Philippines," Villar said. Villar also asked for the detailed list of 4.4 million 4Ps beneficiary-households. "For six years walang nakakakita ng listahan na iyon. I want that list. I want them all accounted for," she added.

The biggest number of CCT beneficiaries come from the Autonomous Rerion of Muslim Mindanao with 417, 703; next is Region 5 with 375, 787 followed by Region 9 with 322,579; Region 4A with 317, 608; Region 3 with 290,076; and the National Capital Region with 232,258.

Asec. Ma Lourdes Turalde- Jarabe of DSWD OPG Promotive Program, also said that while there have been strides in terms of education and health outcomes," it remains to be seen whether the 4Ps as a social protection strategy has indeed contributed to the reduction of poverty."

"We are not against CCT, we're really supportive that you spend P78 billion for CCT but maybe we should review the model so that it will reduce poverty. Iyong sinasabi ninyong better health, I think Philhealth and the Department of Health should take care of that. Maybe you can do education and help these people to become better off and not living below poverty line by giving them livelihood para may kita sila," Villar said.

During the meeting, Villar was also surprised to know that DSWD was limited to design the 4Ps program with health and education goals as a condition of the P20-billion World Bank loan in 2009.

"Ibig sabihin kahit sa tingin natin mali ang model, dahil pinautang nila tayo susundin natin sila? Bakit tayo susunod sa World Bank?... Okay na sa akin ang P60 billion where we have the independence to decide what's best for us kaysa P78 billion na magdidikta sila sa atin," Villar said.

Villar said the budget on healthcare is already big considering that a law was recently passed giving the P150 billion sin tax collection every year to the universal health care and the maintenance of government hospitals.

Villar, also vice chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, noted that in the Brazil CCT program, which is the biggest in the world with 8.8 million beneficiaries, farmers are required to grow crops. The government buys their produce and feeds the school children. She also added that in Thailand, they require 6 million school children to drink 200 ml of milk everyday, which brought up their dairy industry.

The Nacionalista Party senator also reiterated that the 4Ps program should be tied up with agricultural programs, given that 40 percent of 11.8 million farmers and fisherfolks are living below the poverty line. Sixty percent of the 3.5 million coconut farmers are earning P50 a day or P1,500 a month.

"If you want to reduce poverty, you should tie the CCT program with agriculture because if you can reduce the number of the poor people in agriculture, then you reduce poverty in the Philippines," she said.

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