MANILA, Philippines - The government is studying proposals to extend the conditional cash transfer program (CCT), President Benigno Aquino said.
In an interview on ANC's Inside Business aired on Wednesday, Aquino defended the CCT program, saying it is not just a hand-out for poor families, but a partnership between the people and the government.
The CCT, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, is the administration's main anti-poverty program. It gives cash incentives for poor households, in exchange for sending their children to school and requiring health check-ups.
"I love the program. There are some critics who think it’s just a hand-out but the point is, there is a partnership between the state and the people to give them that helping hand to be able to improve their luck in life," he said.
Aquino believes the CCT program will go a long way in improving the country's human capital, which he says is the Philippines' biggest comparative advantage.
"There is that necessity of improving the human capital. DepEd, what were the figures presented to me? 14% will graduate from college. That's why such an emphasis on the CCT program, 800,000 familes got in, we're now at 3.1 million families. We'll have another 700,000 families by next year and perhaps a year after that by 2014, we will have the 4.6 million families or probably 5.2 million families already enrolled in that program," he said.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said as of April 2012, the program has covered already 3.1 families, exceeding the 2012 target of 3 million.
Aquino noted the positive impact of the CCT program not just on the local communities, but on the people themselves.
"There is direct positive impact on the various local economies because of the infusion of cash. But more importantly, I think the change in the attitude of the people, beneficiaries that there is actually a way for them to escape the lot they are in," he said.
Because of the program's success, there are proposals to extend its life to 10 years.
Asked if he will consider these proposals, Aquino said, "There are some other programs that are open-ended. We're studying that matter. The first batch that started, I think this program started in 2008, the first graduates are being evaluated at this point, I've yet to be receive a copy of the study both by the DSWD and by World Bank."