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Romualdez: Expand CCT program

MANILA, Philippines – The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program should be enacted into law to benefit more families, lift them out of poverty. The measure is also intended to promote transparency and ensure indiscriminate implementation of the program to all qualified beneficiaries.
This was the statement issued today by senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez as he announced that, if elected as senator, one of his legislative priorities would be to push for his Pantawid Pamilya Malasakit Bill.
“My priority goal is to embody in law the Conditional Cash Transfer program as a fundamental strategy for poverty reduction and uplifting the situation of the poorest of the poor,” the Leyte lawmaker said.
“Embodying the CCT in law is the logical consequence for a program that is working, is effective, and is helping millions of families all over the archipelago,” he pointed out.
Romualdez cited the World Bank report that the CCT in the Philipines is one of the most successful cash transfer programs in the world. In its 2015 “State of Social Safety Nets” report, the World Bank observed:
“The poor and vulnerable in the Philippines benefit from what is today one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world.” The WB noted that CCT had positive spillover effects on the local economy of target communities: “Cash transfers boost school enrollment and attendance, increase live births in safer facilities, improve prenatal and postnatal care, promote regular growth monitoring of children during critically important early ages, and enhance food security.”
“We have the opportunity in the next Congress to turn the CCT into a program that can lift up at least one-tenth of our population of 102 million,” Romualdez emphasized. At present, almost 4.5 million households are enrolled in the CCT, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps.
Romuldez lamented that despite high economic growth over the last five years, “the benefits of development have not trickled down to our country’s poor.”
With one-fourth of the total population considered in extreme poverty, with income of less than one US dollar a day, and data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute saying that malnutrition among children worsened in 2015, Romualdez believes that Congress should expand the coverage and refine the thrust of Pantawid Pamilya from the current 4,353,597 active household-beneficiaries to include more of the country’s extremely poor. In concrete terms, said Romualdez, the growing malnutrition among children requires the provision of an additional P800 per month exclusively for food and nutrition expenses. Apart from this, the current P500 benefit granted for health expenses should be increased to P800 to include dental care.
“We must strive for nothing less than the transformation of the 4PS program into a national policy and commitment of government to the rescue and well-being of all who are most in need,” Romualdez said. “Every family which qualifies for the program should be covered. Every child in poor families must be placed and kept in school, and they should enjoy health and nutrition assistance,” he added. The Pantawid Pamilya, Romualdez said, “should not only help families to cope, or keep children in health and in school. It should help people build the foundation for a better life.”

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.