Joint Press Statement
September 7, 2011
By Partylist Reps. Teddy Casiño, Neri Colmenares, Luzviminda Ilagan, Emmie De Jesus, Rafael Mariano, Antonio Tinio and Raymond Palatino
We, partylist representatives comprising the Makabayan bloc in the House, in keeping with our mandate to represent the poor and marginalized sectors, express our objection to the proposed P19 billion increase in the budget for conditional cash transfers (CCTs) and will exert efforts to realign said funds to public hospitals and health centers, public schools and job and livelihood generating activities.
We are worried that the CCT program, which started as a stop-gap response to the food and fuel price shocks of 2008, has been scaled up to become the Aquino government’s key anti-poverty program at the expense of other, more effective strategies. According to the DSWD, some P25.5 billion have been spent on CCTs so far. The budget for 2011 is P21billion and the proposal for 2012 is P39.4 billion, or an incredible 86% increase. Total estimated cost of the program is at P306.6 billion by 2016, excluding debt servicing costs for the US$805 million CCT loan from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.
In our long experience working with the poor, they have never expected nor asked a monthly dole out from the government. What they demand are jobs, livelihoods and improved social services. They want better schools for their children where there are no shortages of teachers and classrooms. They want better hospitals and health centers complete with health professionals, working facilities and free medicines. They want gainful employment and financial or technical support for their livelihoods. Conditional cash transfers are palliatives typical of technocrats and government bureaucrats who are too lazy to act on the people’s demands or engage in the arduous work of fighting poverty at its roots. It is favored by politicians who want to curry votes from the poor using taxpayers’ money.
What makes the Aquino-style CCT anomalous is not just its stop-gap approach to the problem of poverty, but the lack of a long term strategy to address the problem of jobless growth and maldevelopment that are at the roots of chronic poverty. Both DTI Sec. Gregorio Domingo and House Appropriations Chairperson Joseph Abaya admitted that the administration has no comprehensive national industrial program or strategy. It is likewise lukewarm to efforts at achieving genuine agrarian reform which is crucial to food self-sufficiency and agro-industrial development.
Given the fundamental flaws of the CCT and the fact that we have yet to see any credible impact assessment of the program, we firmly oppose any increase in its appropriation. We believe the proposed P19 billion increase for the CCT in the 2012 budget is better realigned to fund the following:
|Item||Amount (average allocation)|
|GOCC Hospitals MOOE/subsidy||0.8B (200M each)||Based on original proposed budget of hospitals and 2010 levels|
|12 Specialty Hospitals||1.2B (100M each)|
|55 Public Hospitals||4.125B (75M each)|
|Public Elementary Schools and High Schools||6B||To address shortages in books, chairs, etc. and upgrade School Health and Nutrition program|
|DTI, DOLE, DA||6.125B|