By ACE ALEGRE
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman was “frowned upon” by some sectors when Benguet adopted her as daughter and baptized her “Kadmali,” the name of a local tribal deity, mythical protector and giver of blessings.
“(She) should not make the mistake of assuming that in being bestowed the name “Kadmali” it is a sign that the people of the Cordillera or of its remote town at least have been lifted from poverty,” said Simon Naogsan, spokesman of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) and an Igorot from Natonin, Mt. Province.
Soliman had visited successful community-driven development projects on May 12 in Besao, Mt. Province under the Kalahi-Cidds program of the DSWD. She was adopted “as manifestation of our peoples’ gratefulness for the Secretary’s concern especially to the poorest of the poor in Mt. Province,” the congressman from Mt. Province, Rep. Maximo Dalog Sr., said.
Rep. Dalog praised the DSWD as a program “done efficiently,” citing Besao which was chosen the model town in the entire country for its successful implementation of the Kalahi-Cidds program.
But Naogsan described the Kalahi-Cidds program as “a farce that attempts to cover up the failure to deliver basic services to the people as promised.”
The CPDF leader cited their assessment and explained that “the Conditional Cash Transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) covers only a miniscule portion of the Cordillera population, and yet it has so many provisions that virtually reduce the actual dole out. In fact it is a counterinsurgency ploy and milking cow of unscrupulous politicos and agency heads at different levels (of government).”
The P300 per month provision for every school-going child is a drop in the bucket, Naogsan, a former government engineer who joined the New Peoples’ Army in the 90’s, said.
“The facade of benevolence runs counter to the reality that the educational system is so bankrupt even the region’s least impoverished province, Benguet, has a third of its 359 schools lacking basic facilities as a chair for every child,” Naogsan said.
Like all targets of CCT nationwide, some eight to nine of every 10 schools do not have sufficient books for every subject for each student, and significantly lack class rooms to house the school children, the CPDF leader added.
Before Soliman was bestowed the Igorot “gesture,” she boasted in Baguio “that the whole DSWD family all the more is challenged to bring in successful programs, especially social upliftment projects that invests on the poor,” citing “challenges in the highland Cordillera region like its terrain in mountains.” The treasures in the mountains, (minerals and natural resources in CAR), she stressed, “should redound to the benefit of the people”.
According to DSWD-Cordillera, there are 54,000 families in the region under the CCT and it is projected to increase further with its dive to include all towns in CAR in 2012.
In 2013, all 10 towns in Mt. Province will be under the CCT, making it supposedly 100 percent-covered.
Around the country, there are about 3,000,005 Filipino families benefitting from the CCT and DSWD hopes to add 700,000 more families next year.
But Naogsan sees the 4Ps as a failure, “when it requires medical checkups before each of the supposed 54,000 beneficiary families in the region can avail of the fund, knowing that only 3-4 out of every 10 CCT municipalities nationwide has a doctor or a nurse for every 20,000 citizens, or just one midwife for every 5,000.”
As such the poor beneficiary family has to travel or walk to the provincial capital that is sometimes a hundred kilometers away, spending in advance so much of the allocated CCT fund, just to have a regular checkup, the rebel group spokesperson said.
Naogsan also charged that the CCT program, “like most other government dole-out projects, is so anomalous that over 1,000 families were delisted from the program last year, 164 of them from the Cordillera region alone last August 2011.”
Naogsan said such “gimmickry” cannot “hide from the public the fact that the current CCT program is funded largely by a 25-year loan that would bleed our children and grandchildren some P44.31 billion more in interest and payments come maturity period.”
The poor families know, Naogsan said, “that it is not Kadmali but Ay Mali for the DSWD, and that Pres. Aquino should listen to the real clamor of the people for genuine development, national industrialization and agrarian revolution.”