Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004

About

@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Part 1: My critique of President Noynoy Aquino’s Pantawid Pamilya Program

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has been bombarding us with statistical reports on the Conditional Cash Transfer program. It’s either they are obsessively transparent or they are merely trying to convince skeptics that the program’s mega funding is justified. The Liberal diehards can use the data to trumpet the effectiveness of CCT as an innovative poverty reduction measure while the angry opposition birds can cite the excessive amount of taxpayers’ money allocated for a single program.

But there are other ways to interpret the DSWD reports and one of them is to link the numbers to the geopolitical distribution of poverty in the archipelago. They can affirm and even expose the existence of extreme poverty in supposedly first class municipalities. The numbers can be overwhelming and the ‘shock effect’ can distract us for a while but once we relate the numbers-that-appear-insignificant to the national poverty situation, they start to become useful and their political value becomes visible.

One of the success indicators attributed to CCT is the alleged high compliance rate of beneficiaries in fulfilling the conditionalities, like attending schools and health centers. But in presenting this achievement, the DSWD also revealed and validated (with extreme accuracy) the failure of both local and national governments in their mandate to deliver appropriate health and education services to our children

4th Quarter 2010

3-5 years old, not attending school: 56,504
3-5 years old, attending school: 72,489
6-14 years old, not attending school: 93,228
6-14 years old, attending school: 449,457
0-5 years-old, not attending health center: 36,793
0-5 years-old, attending health center: 223,477

In less than four months this year, the DSWD managed to expand the CCT registered households by 700,000. Maybe that’s what P21.1 billion can accomplish. But the DSWD also succeeded in delisting 200,000 households from the program. What was the crime committed by the ex-CCT beneficiaries? In Metro Manila, four of them were accused of fraud while 3,599 inclusion errors were recorded throughout the country. But most of the delisted households were found guilty of the heinous crime of ‘not attending assemblies’ conducted by the agency. Curiously, 61 beneficiaries in Central Luzon were delisted because they are no longer poor anymore. Balato!

 

March 2011

July 2011

CCT registered households

1.596 million

2.2 million

Female beneficiaries

1.417 million

2.04 million

6-14 years old beneficiaries

2.3 million

3.96 million

0-2 years old beneficiaries

4,101

403,547

Indigenous Peoples beneficiaries

298,713

417,024

Households delisted from the program

46,740

155,944

Delisted because of inclusion error

3,599

Delisted because didn’t attend assembly

46,622

112,734

Delisted in ARMM because didn’t attend assembly

2,815

Delisted in NCR because of fraud

4

Delisted in Region 3 because ‘not poor anymore’

61

Most of the beneficiaries are located in Mindanao and the share of ARMM is the biggest in the country. That the ‘very poor’ reside in Mindanao could also probably mean that most of the moderately poor, slightly poor, and the invisible poor are also to be found on the island. And CCT-defined poverty is not just a problem ‘there’ in Mindanao: look at the Bicol numbers. What’s the government’s official intervention to alleviate their conditions? Or maybe we are too fixated with the CCT viagra pill that we are unable to see the need to develop a holistic policy to deal with poverty and its discontents.

CCT registration

Region

March 2011

July 2011

ARMM

150,982

264,267

Caraga

128,603

144,145

Mimaropa

115,083

136,802

Western Mindanao

183,787

199,522

Bicol

186,667

251,278

Region X

197,761

Luzon

664,832

Mindanao

1.058 million

There are provinces which are not included in the CCT program because there are no qualified beneficiaries there (Batanes) but the program is already operational in 75 cities, 950 municipalities, and 79 provinces. Despite the program expansion, there are still politicians who are complaining about the non-inclusion of some of their constituents. By asking DSWD to accept more beneficiaries in their areas, aren’t they admitting their failure to solve poverty in their jurisdictions? Below are some of the CCT provinces and the rising number of CCT households

Provinces

March 2011

July 2011

Sulu

55,122

73,181

Maguindanao

37,324

87,282

Lanao del Sur

38,165

69,699

Agusan del Sur

46,307

46,454

Surigao Sur

31,424

32,602

Quezon

33,753

66,084

Oriental Mindoro

33,460

45,161

Zamboanga del Norte

74,117

73,974

Zamboanga del Sur

78,829

85,529

Masbate

71,683

78,196

Iloilo

28,980

62,078

Lanao del Norte

60,828

62,299

Tell me the number of CCT households in your town and I’ll tell you what kind of leader you are. Maybe this applies to the Ampatuans who ruled Maguindanao and ARMM for several years.

Meanwhile, superstar cities like Iloilo, Zamboanga, Davao, Quezon City, General Santos, and Makati (ganito kami sa Makati) have high CCT registrations. Maybe their leaders are more concerned about how to impress credit rating analysts and business competitiveness experts that they failed to notice the widening economic inequality in their places.

And speaking of municipalities which recorded high levels of CCT poverty, Rapu-Rapu and Compostela proved that there may be life after mining but it’s a poor one. Lesson for local leaders: Think twice before embracing the seductive offer of mining firms.

Caraga towns Bunawan (Lolong giant crocodile) and Claver (NPA mining raid) have been in the news recently but the poverty rates in these places also deserve a special mention.

Next time we go to a Friday mass in Quiapo, think of the 21 very poor households in the historic area. Can’t we ask the rich devotees to do something about the unlucky 21?

Municipalities/Cities

March 2011

July 2011

Ampatuan, Maguindanao

4,174

Zamboanga City

19,335

19,443

Quiapo

21

21

Tondo 1-2

7,798

8,445

Quezon City

8,477

9,480

Iloilo City

7,629

7,645

Iligan City

9,046

9,577

Sultan Naga Dimaporo

5,175

5,175

Davao City

16,384

16,579

Pikit, North Cotabato

10,650

10,783

General Santos City

8,006

8,050

Makati

907

910

Cagayan de Oro

8,762

9,087

Claver, Surigao del Norte

1,764

1,764

Bunawan, Agusan Norte

2,800

2,798

Rapu-Rapu, Albay

482

482

Compostela

834

4,567

Tourism will bring dollar receipts (and sex tourists according to a US diplomat) but poverty elimination isn’t a guarantee. See listing below. CamSur and Cebu may be the country’s top tourist attractions yet the poverty index in these towns is quite alarming. Sadly, after years of eco-tourism in Puerto Princesa and Palawan, they remain poverty-stricken destinations. On the other, could the non-inclusion of Puerto Galera, Panglao, and Malay (Boracay) mean there are no CCT poor in these popular tourist destinations?

Tourist Destinations

March 2011

July 2011

Palawan

57,417

58,838

Puerto Princesa

4,599

4,577

Coron

2,660

2,660

El Nido

2,461

2,461

Camarines Sur

46,129

82,413

Caramoan

4,075

4,089

Donsol

4,537

4,537

Baguio

1,034

1,050

Nasugbu

394

394

Tagaytay

413

413

Dapitan City

3,876

3,876

Intramuros

101

109

Daanbantayan, Cebu

461

4,096

Cebu City

4,466

4,506

Samal Island

477

5,760

Gen Luna, Siargao

1,377

1,377

A senatorial candidate once complained that scions of prominent political families are lucky since their family names are also the names of streets, towns, and buildings in the country. They can bank on a name-recall strategy to win in the polls. We are familiar with the famous streets, airports, and landmark buildings named after former presidents and heroes but we seldom acknowledge the lesser known towns which got their names also from dead presidents and heroes. Through the DSWD reports, we are able to list the towns named after former presidents and the existence of CCT poverty in these places. Who are the ‘poorest presidents’? How should their families react to the fact that the towns which are named in honor of them are afflicted with CCT poverty levels?

President’ Towns

March 2011

July 2011

Marcos, Ilocos Norte

681

674

Quirino, Isabela

726

Pres Roxas, Capiz

447

1,361

Quezon, Nueva Ecija

474

476

Aguinaldo, Cavite

286

288

Quezon, Quezon

999

Pres Roxas, North Cotabato

2,483

2,627

Aquino, Sultan Kudarat

3,030

3,029

Marcos, Sultan Kudarat

3,182

Roxas, Mindoro Oriental

3,749

Magsaysay, Mindoro Occidental

3,036

3,036

Magsaysay, Palawan

689

735

Roxas, Palawan

4,438

4,445

Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte

3,309

3,304

Magsaysay, Zamboanga del Sur

2,113

2,117

Pres C.P. Garcia, Bohol

1,973

1,988

Quezon, Bukidnon

5,106

Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental

2,801

2,784

Magsaysay, Davao del Sur

453

449

Pres Quirino, Sultan Kudarat

1,740

As of September 2011, the cash grants released by the DSWD for the current year have reached P9.2 billion. Below is the list of regions which received substantial amounts from the agency. Notice the billion peso CCT funds for Bicol?

Region

Amount

NCR

P274.3 million

Calabarzon

P375.7 million

Mimaropa

P592.8 million

Bicol

P1.084 billion

Western Visayas

P620.4 million

Central Visayas

P584.4 million

Eastern Visayas

P593.4 million

Western Mindanao

P1.107 billion

Region X

P895.16 million

Region XI

P507.38 million

Caraga

P732.03 million

ARMM

P904.84 million

The DSWD targets the location of the poorest of the poor in the same way the military hunts the lair of its rebel enemies. Precise. Detailed. Ruthlessly efficient. Mission objectives couched in a neutral-sounding, technical language. After locating the poor and giving them a dose of CCT, what’s the state’s next ‘shock therapy’ for them? The poor, because they are poor, are easily subjected to various social experiments even if these are highly discriminatory.

In imperial regimes, maps were technological tools used to impose hegemony in the colonized territories. Maps didn’t merely define the boundaries of the Empire but more significantly, they placed the subdued populations under the cartographic monitoring of rulers. Maps performed military functions in aid of modernity and the fanatical drive to spread the civilizing mission to the barbarian worlds. In short, there is nothing innocent in the quasi-scientific categorization of individuals and groups in an enclosed space.

Like military maps, the hyper-accurate matrix of CCT beneficiaries supports the power imperative of the dominant faction of the ruling class. If the CCT fails (and it’s bound to fail because it’s not designed to disturb the roots of deprivation in the country), will politicians in search of stability be able to resist the compulsion to use the DSWD database to exclude and even exterminate the unwanted (system losses) poorest of the poor from mainstream society?

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