December 26, 2012 in Featured
By GWEN GAONGEN
SAGADA, Mountain Province — Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or what is more popularly known as 4Ps Fidelisan, Sagada raised their issues and concerns on the said program during a . Documentation and Writing workshop conducted for interested organizations and individuals and barangay local government officials in Sagada Northern Barrios held at the Fidelisan Multi-Purpose Building last December 15.
The said Documentation and Writing Workshop is part of the implementation of the Human Rights Based Approach to Development project by Dinteg, EU and IWGIA. The activity also mobilized beneficiaries of an ongoing project by CWEARC, UN Trust Fund to End VAW and AIPP which is Empowering Women in Traditional Customary Institutions.
The 24 families under the CCT program in Fidelisan were surprised in November 2011 when they received a notice from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) that they are CCT beneficiaries. In the said notice, they were asked to attend a CCT beneficiary-orientation on December 7 at the municipal multi-purpose hall.
Questions were raised by other villagers in relation to the selection of beneficiaries. Some even speculated that this is another “politika” (politically motivated or part of patronage politics). This is because many think that there are more deserving families but were not included as beneficiaries. The amount to be received too was subject to speculation. Others said it will reach as high as P5,000 per month per beneficiary.
How exactly were the beneficiaries chosen? According to some beneficiaries, the basis was a survey conducted by the national government through the National Statistics Office (NSO) and regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in 2009. In their understanding, the basis for their selection was: that they had several children; they were pregnant during the time of the survey; and that they had children below 14 years old.
They believe that income is also a factor but is not clear to them how this was factored in.
In short, the selection was done by the national office of the DSWD based on the survey results in 2009. They believe that many of the families who they believe should be beneficiaries could have possibly been absent from the village at the time the survey was conducted.
As to the amount being received, those interviewed said that it is a minimum of P300 to a maximum of P1,400. This includes educational assistance and medical assistance.
Each household beneficiary is entitled to P300 per child for educational assistance with a maximum of three children per household with children under 14 years old. Given this, the maximum educational assistance per household beneficiary is P900. The medical assistance is P500 per household beneficiary.
However the amounts to be received is based on “condition”. This means, each household beneficiary must comply with the “conditions” so that they will receive their cash. These conditions are: attendance by the female head of the household to monthly Family Development Seminars (FDS); attendance of the children beneficiaries of educational assistance to at least 85% of school days; monthly check-ups of under 6 children of household beneficiaries; every two month check-ups of household beneficiary members 6 years and above.
The FDS are held in the barangay and also the check-ups are done by the RHU in the barangay. The MSWD provides formats for the beneficiaries to fill-up at the town hall located at Poblacion. The releases are done through the Land Bank located at Bontoc Sentro.
As these are “conditions”, non-compliance to any of the requirements would result to the non-release of the assistance. For example, if the beneficiaries are unable to have their check-ups (monthly or every two months) then the P500 shall not be given. If the school attendance sheet is not given or if their child fails to attend at least 85% school days then the P300 shall be withheld. This is why the beneficiaries complained that in the 2nd and 3rd releases, some of them were unable to receive the whole amount.
For Sagada and the Fidelisan beneficiaries specifically, they started receiving their CCTs March of 2012. The releases are done every two months and are given through the Land Bank in Bontoc.
As mentioned earlier, some have not received the whole amount allocated for them in the 2nd and 3rd releases for this year. At the time the workshop was done, the beneficiaries were unable to recall who among them, what amounts and for what specific reason their allocations were deducted. For many beneficiaries, traveling to Bontoc to receive their CCT takes much of their time and a big chunk of their budgets. They spend P65 from Fidelisan to Bontoc and another P65 back. As they have to fall in line and wait for most of the day, they have to spend for food in Bontoc. This will mean spending at least P130 to P250 just to get their CCT allocation. In some cases, the essence of financial assistance is lost as they only receive P300 for educational assistance and lose a days wages.
An opportunity to collect the non-released amounts in the 2nd and 3rd allocations can still be received through a grievance process. This is why the beneficiaries filled up grievance forms and submitted these to the MSWD. They hope that these shall be released next year.
For most of the beneficiaries, they are happy that the issues arising from the selection and misunderstanding as to amounts they receive have somehow subsided. This is because these have been clarified although late.
They also believe and hope that the deserving families will still be included despite their being absent during the survey in 2009. This they hope will be done through the process of updating data or information from the barangay.
As a recommendation, the beneficiaries also say that releases of allocations should be done within the municipality as this will cut down on expenditure as well as time spent to receive the cash transfers. The beneficiaries say that the CCT is “isukapay” (additional income). They are able to buy notebooks and a few household needs from the P300 to P1,400 they receive monthly. Although it means spending a couple of hours a month for seminars, the monthly FDGs also have been useful they say. These were topics given by the local Regional Health Unit (RHU), DSWD and Tangguyub People Center.