COTABATO CITY, Feb. 21 — Acting Regional Vice-Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Hadja Bainon Karon wednesday said politicians should not use the Philippines’ Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program or commonly known as “Pantawid Pamilya” for their political advancement.
Vice Governor Karon, also ARMM Regional Secretary for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said her office launched Wednesday a pilot campaign on Anti-Epal or “BAWAL ANG EPAL DITO” with the objective of protecting the dignity of the program and ensure the rights of the beneficiaries.
Vice Governor Karon has reiterated that only the DSWD can delist beneficiaries from the program if they have not complied with the set conditions or in any case they had committed any violations.
In accordance to the preventive measure approach of the department, DSWD National Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman issued a memorandum in September 2012 advising DSWD employees not to participate or be used in any political propaganda.
It was stated in Soliman’s memo that if anyone from DSWD caught using the program in favor of a politician, she or he will be immediately suspended and an investigation will be conducted.
In this regard, Vice Governor Karon said that in case her office would receive complaints from anyone where it describes the circumstance and identified names of DSWD personnel from municipal links up to the regional office personnel engaging in partisan politics using the program, they will not hesitate to implement the actions stated in Sec. Soliman’s memo.
Sec. Karon said there are efforts of the agency to protect Pantawid Pamilya from political interests.
Sec. Karon emphasized that DSWD-ARMM is communicating the message clearly: “Pantawid Pamilya is not a campaign vehicle for political advancement.”
DSWD-ARMM is currently rolling out a media campaign to inform the public that no local politician has the authority to add or delist CCT beneficiaries called “Bawal ang EPAL dito” campaign.
This action as the department is worried that some politicians may take advantage of the Pantawid Pamilya program to gain leverage for the May 2013 elections.
In anticipation of such incidents, the DSWD-ARMM is ready to receive reports, feedbacks, and messages about politicians or candidates who may claim to have the authority to enlist and delist household beneficiaries from the program.
Complaints can be sent to the department’s Grievance Redness System by sending a text with their “name/area/complaint” to 0918-9122813.
The Pantawid Pamilya Program implementation in ARMM, currently provides cash grants to more than 300,000 households.
Enrolled families get a monthly cash grant of P500 to cover healthcare costs while each child below 14 gets P300 for education. As conditionalities, the beneficiaries are required to send their children to school, and submit them to regular medical check-ups.
More than P44 billion has been allotted to the conditional cash transfer program for this year, up from P39 billion in 2012. (PNA-Media Ng Bayan)