P3 billion released to ‘poorest of the poor’ in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 July) – The national government has released around P3 billion in cash grants since last year to “poorest of the poor” families in Region 12 and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under its flagship Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 12 director, said the grants were directly received by some 256,451 households in the region that are covered by the initiative, which is also known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Children head for school in Glan, Sarangani province aboard a banca. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

She said the program currently serves a total of 233,435 households under the regular CCT component and 23,016 households under the modified CCT.

Beneficiaries of the regular CCT are poor families identified through a poverty survey conducted by the agency, while those covered by the modified CCT are families from disadvantaged sectors, including indigenous peoples.

CCT is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education.

It provides beneficiaries cash grants of P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and P300 a month per child for educational expenses, as well as P600 in monthly rice subsidy.

The program is being implemented by DSWD-12 in 1,287 barangays in Region 12’s four provinces and five cities, and in Marawi City in the ARMM.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Kidapawan and Tacurong.

Of the released grants, Taha said some P1.34 billion was for the education benefits and P1.33 billion for the health benefits.

Beginning the first quarter of the year, she said they have started the release of the P600 rice subsidy of the beneficiaries.

The official said they also assisted the beneficiaries in availing livelihood projects in coordination with various government agencies.

For instance, the program is currently assisting some 30 beneficiaries in Barangay New Dumangas in T’boli, South Cotabato in developing a strawberry farm.

The area had been assessed as highly suitable in growing the high-value crop and beneficiaries initially allotted a 1.4-hectare farm lot for the project.

Last April, the program helped provide some 200 horses to poor B’laan households in the mountain village of Daan Suyan in Malapatan, Sarangani that are covered by the modified CCT.

As of June this year, the agency reported a total of 32,637 households that can already stand on their own without government assistance through the CCT.

Based on the program’s Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI), the said households have already improved to the self-sufficient category.

SWDI is a tool that determines the level of well-being of CCT beneficiaries to ensure appropriate interventions for them.

“It shows that these households already have the means to support and sustain the needs of their members through stable sources of income,” she said.

“I have been talking to some of our beneficiaries and I am happy because of the dramatic changes in their lives through the program. Some were able to buy their own appliances and even put up small business,” Taha added. (MindaNews)