MANILA, Philippine – About two weeks before the official campaign period for candidates for congressmen and other local positions, the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) warned it will file cases against incumbent bets who will use the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the government for electioneering.
“Ang usapan namin sa DILG, kung incumbent at nananakot na aalisin sila sa listahan, pwedeng mag-file ng administrative case against the incumbent for abuse of authority,” Social Welfare secretary Dinky Soliman said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, March 13. (Based on our talks with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, if the incumbent threatens to delist beneficiaries, an administrative case for abuse abuse of authority can be filed against the official.)
The DSWD also discouraged its field personnel from participating in partisan political activities, reiterating that she has already suspended two personnel for politicizing the government’s flagship poverty alleviation program.
“If I receive any complaint from anybody where it describes the circumstance and gives names of DSWD personnel — from municipal link to the central office peoples — engaging in partisan politics using our programs, we will suspend them before we even investigate,” Soliman told Rappler in an earlier interview.
Soliman earlier issued a directive that banned images or pictures of government officials in billboards or tarpaulins hung during CCT activities and disallowed the participation of DSWD field personnel in any partisan political activity.
Soliman also set the guidelines on the conduct of CCT activities during the election period.
In February 2013, the DSWD launched an “anti-epal” campaign in response to reports about beneficiares being threatened by politicians to be delisted from the program if they do not vote for them.
According to Soliman, advertisements will soon air on radio to clarify the process of selecting and delisting beneficiaries.
“Iro-roll out namin iyong radio spots na nagpapaliwanag na walang makakapag-alis ng pangalan mo—hindi si mayor, hindi si governor, hindi si congressman or congresswoman. Ang makakapag-alis lang ng pangalan mo sa Pantawid ay ikaw,” Soliman stressed. (We will roll out radio spots which explain that nobody can delist beneficiaries — nobody, not the mayor, the governor, the congressman or congresswoman. Only you can take your name off the Pantawid list.)
The DSWD also opened a hotline to facilitate the reporting of electioneering cases using the CCT.
“If you do not comply with the agreement, you do not properly use the money, DSWD will take you off the list. And no politician can add your name if you are not qualified, which has a clear basis,” Soliman said in Filipino.
Cash grants suspended
The CCT program provides cash grants to more than 3 million poor beneficiaries who are required to send their children to school, submit them to regular medical check-ups, and attend related seminars.
Enrolled families get a monthly cash grant of P500 to cover healthcare costs while each child below 14 gets P300 for education.
However, due to the 45-day election ban on the disbursement and expenditure of public funds, the DSWD will only release cash grants until March 27, two days before the ban takes effect, according to Soliman.
The DSWD will resume distributing cash grants either end of May or early June. – Rappler.com