There is no use increasing the number of beneficiaries to the next million mark come 2011. If there will be loopholes in how this social welfare program is implemented, it may be mathematically unmanageable to plug them with such efficiency. Before the desired rate of success is achieved, the whole scheme would have already bled government coffers dry. In a rather disabling (not enabling) environment given to a culture of corruption, God knows which payroll could be – ghost, padded, or placed on double-entry. In short, the fund manager can always do some work in hocus pocus. And before anyone even discovers of the financial anomaly, the culprit may have gone Scot free.
The Commission on Audit shall flex muscles to insuring public money is spent in accordance with prescribed accounting and auditing rules. That said, it is a matter of public interest that COA’s report on how the first year or years of the CCT has been implemented be published in two newspapers of general circulation. But have we really heard about it? Has the COA in fact audited how this legislated appropriation been utilized? Chances are, we have a faceless million universe of people who walk to every Land Bank to draw money monthly. It is almost as if we are filling the vaults of all Land Banks throughout the country with cash in the billions (P20 or P30 billion, was it?).
The conditionalities, where they indicate, do not spell out envisioned policy outcomes. The CCT is certainly a new even bold social policy that in most likelihood is not suitable for a country like the Philippines given its precarious fiscal health. If we as much as think it is ‘giving to Caesar what is due to Caesar’, we may have to think again. We hardly ever perfected any single social program such as what the GSIS or SSS should be for those who pay much premium to them from their hard earned salaries. The GSIS or so too is sick, maybe even bankrupt given that there had been reported scam up the highest level of their bureaucratic hierarchies.
DSWD, as custodian of public funds, might be playing the country’s budget department, in one form or other. I had occasion to listen to a briefing given by DSWD on this so-called 4Ps and it seems that the scheme they used to be able to target the beneficiaries is simply anecdotal, at worst, motherhood. One must only take their word for it. It is not hard to imagine that as soon as a beneficiary were able to draw the money from the nearest Land Bank, what ought to go for the purposes such money were intended, may not even be realistically followed.
The criteria or conditions set forth under the program deserve reflection. What good will it do if more children get to go to school to fill the classrooms with food provided to insure them healthy? What good will it do if more women or mothers get to go to health centers to receive vaccination or get some maternal check up or treatment supportive of the move toward reproductive health? What good will it do if more families or households get to raise their level of consumer satisfaction since they have some money to spend to give them higher quality of life no matter how shortlived?
The findings of studies done on CCTs do no encourage any government like ours to plunge into such a social policy. In other words, this is a grand policy mistake. Legislators have reason to doubt how good it can be implemented in such scope and magnitude. We are talking of millions of beneficiaries here who would be given subsidies or safety nets at various paying schedules. The DSWD tells us mere anecdotal stories bereft of any scientific validation as to whether indeed, the monies go to who should receive them and more importantly if they are really utilized for their intended purposes.
To my mind, this CCT as a social policy is of doubtful origin and validity.