'Epals' using CCT program, warns Palace

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2013 04:43 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2013 04:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Palace on Monday justified the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) "anti-epal" campaign for its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the campaign is meant to inform CCT beneficiaries that their benefits are not dependent on how they will vote in the elections.

"It's an advocacy of the DSWD to inform the beneficiaries themselves, kasi po may mga nakukuha kaming report na minsan meron pong mga local politicians na sinasabi sa mga beneficiaries na 'O, kapag hindi ka sumama sa akin, hindi kayo bumoto para sa akin, ipapatanggal ko kayo sa listahan,'" she said.

"This is part of the advocacy of the DSWD to ensure that the beneficiaries know na kaya po sila nasa programa ay dahil qualified beneficiary sila as identified by the national household targeting system at, pangalawa, kung matagal po man sila sa programa ay dahil hindi po sila nag-comply at hindi dahil sa sabi ng kung sino pong local government official."

Valte was responding to a statement reportedly made by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño questioning the alleged use of some P10 million for the campaign that would involve publishing information on media.

She clarified that the amount is the budget of the "entire unit" that will execute the campaign.

"I have spoken to some of my counterparts in the DSWD and apparently the amount that was being mentioned by the senatorial candidate that had made that statement… is the budget of the actual unit, of the entire unit," she said.

"The social marketing unit is a unit under the DSWD that has been there and is helping the department with its various programs. I am trying to get the breakdown of exactly how much the budget of that unit is kasi ang duda ko po diyan kasama na 'yung personnel services saka 'yung MOOE [Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses], 'yung capital outlay ng unit na 'yon."

Valte said the campaign has become necessary especially in light of the upcoming elections.

"Mukhang mas timely siya ngayon kasi while the advocacy has always been there, it is more relevant because of the upcoming elections. What we are trying to safeguard against is that the program becomes a tool for patronage politics. Ayaw po nating mangyari 'yon, she said.