‘Unconditional’ cash for Haiyan survivors

Paterno Esmaquel II
The unconditional cash transfer program aims to help the poorest typhoon survivors

DIFFICULT LIVES. Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroys this coastal barangay in Tacloban City, Leyte. Photo by Vincent Go

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – To help rebuild the lives of the poorest survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the government on Thursday, November 21, said it will hand them money through an unconditional cash transfer program.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said that for typhoon survivors, the government will waive the conditions under the current conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Lahat ng nakarehistrong miyembro ng Pantawid Pamilya, makukuha nila ang kaukulang cash grant na hindi na titingnan kung pumasok ba ‘yung anak nila o nagpunta sa health center,” Soliman said in a media briefing Wednesday.

(All registered members of Pantawid Pamilya will receive the appropriate cash grant without us checking if their children went to school or visited a health center.)

The government will implement this starting the first week of December, Soliman said.

Under the CCT program, beneficiaries get cash grants as long as they fulfill certain conditions.

These include enrolling their children to school, sending them for medical check-ups, and having them dewormed. For pregnant women, another requirement is to avail of public health care before, during, and after birth. (READ: Pantawid program working well?)

Unconditional until…

For survivors, Soliman said the cash grants will remain unconditional “until the facilities of health and schools are up.”

This is not the first time the government will do this, Soliman explained.

It also implemented unconditional cash transfers for survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) in 2011 and Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in 2012.

The unconditional cash transfers for Yolanda, however, will likely take a longer time. Disaster officials, after all, say Yolanda caused up to P2.14 billion in damage to infrastructure.

Soliman herself can’t say until when the unconditional scheme will remain.

Those from the Visayas comprise around 20% of CCT beneficiaries. In the Philippines, over 3.92 million families benefit from the CCT.

Soliman said the unconditional cash transfers form part of the “early recovery” phase.

Cash is “the best form of relief” for typhoon victims, said Albay Gov Joey Salceda, who has seen the worst of disasters in his province. (READ: ‘Cash is the best form of relief’ – Salceda.)

Planning reconstruction

Following the recovery phase is rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Given the unprecedented damage wrought by Yolanda, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the government is also planning a massive reconstruction.

Roxas said the Palace is now studying the budget for this.

He added the entire Cabinet, not only the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, will likely handle rehabilitation.

Isa sa mga hudyat na papunta na tayo doon sa recovery phase, o sa reconstruction phase, ay ‘yung mga katanungan ng mga kababayan natin na nagtatanong na tungkol sa certified seeds, tungkol sa fishing implements… at saka yung sa reconstruction ng kanilang mga tahanan,” Roxas said.

(One of the signs that we’re approaching the recovery phase, or the reconstruction phase, is the questions of our countrymen about certified seeds, about fishing implements… and about the reconstruction of their homes.)

He added: “Kung titingnan natin, last week, nasa emergency rom tayo, pina-pump natin yung pasyente, tinitingnan kung talagang malubha ang kalagayan. This week naman ay stabilized na ito, at maselan pa rin, at kritikal pa rin ang kondisyon, subalit stabilized na. Nandito na tayo sa ICU.”

(If you noticed, last week, we were in the emergency room. We were pumping our patient, checking if he’s really in grave condition. This week he has stabilized. His condition is still delicate and critical, but he has now stabilized. We’re now in the ICU.)

Roxas, Soliman, and other top government officials have stationed themselves in typhoon-hit areas to supervise aid.

The government said it is making strides in helping affected communities. Roxas on Wednesday, however, said the government is doing all these without a ground commander. (READ/WATCH: Haiyan crisis: No ground commander.)


Saying it’s a team effort, Soliman said the government adopts a “convergent approach.”

Kaya ‘pag sinabing sino’ng in charge, lahat kami answerable to, first of all, the people. As the President always says, sila ang boss. And then, yung accountability lines namin, sa Presidente,” Soliman said. (So if you say who’s in charge, everyone of us is answerable to, first of all, the people. As the President says, they’re the boss. And our accountability lines go straight to the President.) – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.