Arroyo ally warns: CCT could be used to buy votes

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2011 03:57 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2011 06:28 AM

MANILA, Philippines - House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez warned Wednesday that the government's conditional cash transfer program could be used for "indirect" vote buying for the 2013 midterm elections.

Suarez said the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is just a copycat of the Arroyo administration's own CCT program.

He hopes proper consultations were done on the implementation of the project so that even barangay leaders know who are the beneficiaries in the "poorest of the poor" in their communities.

"I hope this is not indirect vote buying for the 2013 elections," he said.

The program provides conditional cash grants to poor households particularly those with pregnant women and children ages 0-14. Under the program, a monthly stipend of up to P1,400 will be given to every family beneficiary which will be identified through a national household targeting system.

The CCT budget for 2012 is at P39 billion, almost double the P21 billion in 2011. Government justified the increase by expanding the coverage from one million to over 2 million beneficiaries.

Suarez said expanding the coverage merely reinforces the culture of mendicancy.

Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said the CCT is not sustainable long term.He said the CCT may be continued but there should be a validation of its benefits.

Lagman said deliberations on the 2012 budget will be geared towards finding out how it will help the government achieve its Philippine development plan (PDP).

The House minority bloc concurred with the administration's PDP, particularly on the points for the generation of investments, the generation of employment and adequate human development.

Suarez said the minority would like to question the administration on its underspending for infrastructure, the failure of the government to bid out a public-private partnership project, how the government intends to create more jobs amid the problems of the global economy especially after the government cut back on agencies like the TESDA and how the government intends to address human development especially after it cut back on funding for education.

The PDP was presented to lawmakers, including members of the minority, at the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council meeting Monday in Malacañang.

Suarez announced that the minority will pursue a lengthy interpellation of the 2012 budget proposal when it goes to plenary.

He said this is their way of exercising oversight, which was discarded with the abolition of the oversight committee on the CCT.

Lagman said the budget will go to plenary September 6, with plenary debates starting as early as 10 a.m. to expedite its passage.