MANILA, Philippines – If elected president, Vice President Jejomar Binay will trim the list of beneficiaries under the Aquino administration's flagship Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, as he believes "many" of them are not qualified under the scheme.
Binay's spokesman, Mon Ilagan, made the statement in an interview on local radio dzNL in La Union on Saturday, March 12.
Ilagan mentioned Binay's plans for the the CCT program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), when asked about the reception given by local officials to the United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer when he goes to the provinces.
He said that contrary to rumors that Binay would discontinue the CCT, the Vice President would even expand it by limiting it only to "qualified" beneficiaries.
"Itutuloy ni VP Binay 'yong programa ng 4Ps – palalawakin at itatama. Kasi tatanggalin niya rito ngayon, kung siya ay manalo, tatanggalin niya 'yong mga beneficiaries na hindi naman qualified; marami," he said.
(VP Binay will continue the 4Ps program – it would be expanded and corrected. This is because if he wins, he will remove beneficiaries who are not qualified. There are many.)
Ilagan claimed that the number of 4Ps beneficiaries has been bloated for "election" purposes.
"Just for the sake of elections, sige pumasok na kayo (beneficiaries). Kaya nga itong 4Ps, pina-iimbestigahan namin na ginagamit sa pulitika (Beneficiaries are allowed to avail of the program just for the sake of elections. So this 4Ps, we are having it investigated as it is being used for politics)," he said.
All presidential candidates have said they would continue the CCT program. A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 80% of Filipino voters will likely vote for candidates who will continue it.
The program, which covered over 4.4 million beneficiaries in 2015, provides cash grants to the Philippines’ poorest citizens. A household-beneficiary with 3 children can receive P1,400 ($30) a month or up to P15,000 ($331) a year – subject to conditions to ensure the health and education of the children.
Launched in 2008 by the Arroyo administration with 380,000 household-beneficiaries, the program was to have covered 4,436,732 in 2015. President Benigno Aquino III credits the program with yanking 7.7 million Filipinos out of poverty.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman had been grilled by CCT critics in Congress during budget hearings throughout the Aquino administration, particularly on its impact on poverty and the beneficiaries covered by the program.