“The government should have given us permanent jobs instead of this (conditional cash transfer). Money is not permanent, we lose it in a day, unlike when we have a permanent job, we would somehow have permanent resources to spend for our needs,” – Angie Lorenzo, beneficiary
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Angie Lorenzo, 40, a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or popularly known as conditional cash transfer (CCT) said the program is literally pantawid, just enough to make ends meet.
The CCT or 4Ps is President Benigno Aquino III’s central social development program. The program was piloted in 2008 under the administration of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. According to news reports, the program went from granting cash transfers to some one million families by end-2009 to more than two million as of June 2011. Aquino boasted during his speech on the occasion of his first year in office last June 30 that an additional one million families would benefit from the cash hand-outs.
Contrary to the government’s declaration that the cash grants are given monthly, Lorenzo said she was only able to receive money from the bank last August 2 amounting to P1,300 ($30.95), two months after she got the previous grant last May amounting to only P700 ($16).
Angie Lorenzo a beneficiary of CCT still prefer to have permanent job instead of cash grants which will only last for five years. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
Lorenzo has one child. Her husband is a construction worker with no regular job. The family lives in Purok 2, Cupang, Muntinlupa. “The government should have given us permanent jobs instead of this (CCT), money is not permanent we lose it in a day, unlike when we have a permanent job, we somehow have permanent resources to spend for our needs,” Lorenzo said.
The case of Lorenzo illustrates the inconsistencies in the CCT program. A recent study of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) showed that the cash grants are delayed, there are instances of unexplained lump sum payments and deductions.
The CWR interviewed 100 women beneficiaries from 18 villages in the cities of Manila, Pasig, Muntinlupa and Malabon; and from the municipalities in Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Nueva Vizcaya, Negros and Mindoro. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents are unemployed and do not have any source of income, 15 percent are vendors (have a small business like variety stores, and vending various items such as cigarettes, salts and others), 12 percent are scavengers, manicurists, rug makers, among others, six percent are laundrywomen or household helpers, three percent are peasants, and two percent are factory workers or laborers.
Delayed and varying releases
The CWR study showed erratic and delayed schedule of cash releases.
“Before, the money used to be released quarterly, then in 2011, the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] said the money would be released every two months. But even before, the money was never released quarterly, sometimes it took five months before the money was released,” a respondent said.
Lorenzo first received a cash grant in December 23 last year amounting to P6,600 ($157), it was followed on Dec. 29 amounting to P2,200 ($52). “The DSWD said it (the money) was my grant for that year,” said Lorenzo.
Lorenzo again received P1,600 ($38) last February, only P700 ($16) last May then followed again only last Aug. 2.
According to the study, delayed cash releases make it more difficult for beneficiaries to keep track of how much they are expected to receive.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents from Bicol, Negros, Muntinlupa and Malabon areas reported that they have received lump sum cash grants amounting from 6,000 to 15,000 ($142 to $357) mostly in December 2010, the study said.
Like Lorenzo, other respondents were told that the lump sum payment they received was their cash grant for one whole year.
“This is a surprise to many since most of them have been part of the program only in August, September and December 2010,” the study revealed. “Thinking that it was their cash grant for 2011, many of them were surprised when they received another cash grant in January and February 2011. But some were dismayed after receiving less or worse, none at all.”
According to the study, the beneficiaries are primarily concerned with the varying amounts of cash grants they received. The beneficiaries are supposed to receive different amounts each month, as the program’s rules indicated. The cash grants differ depending on the number of children qualified for the program. The beneficiaries may also get less of the amount specified in the agreement if they fail to meet the conditionalities.
However, some respondents who religiously complied with the conditions of the program still received less cash. “Asked whether they ever have asked about the discrepancies in the distribution of cash grants, the respondents have admitted that their questions remain unanswered by the local program personnel,” the study said.