MANILA, Philippines – A party-list representative slammed the government for allegedly deducting P500 ($10.70) from the allotment of Manila families under its conditional cash transfer program, if mothers miss family development sessions (FDS) of women’s health center Likhaan.
Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza, former Manila mayor, raised the issue to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman during her department’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 1.
“Likhaan is posturizing as partner of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)….Binabawasan [ang mga ina] ng P500 dahil sa hindi nila pagdalo sa birth control method seminars ay illegal yan,” Atienza said.
(Likhaan is posturizing as partner of DSWD….Mothers get a deduction of P500 because they don’t attend birth control method seminars – that’s illegal.)
According to Atienza, Likhaan teaches poor mothers strict birth control, as if telling them that “kayo’y mahirap dahil marami kayong anak (you are poor because you have many children).” He questioned whether this is responsible parenting – one of the topics included in every FDS.
“Maituturing niyo bang responsableng pagpapamilya ‘yung paglalagay ng Implanon sa bisig ng isang ina upang ‘di na siya magbuntis? ‘Yun po ba ay kabilang sa RH law na inaprubahan ng Kongreso? O saan po ba hinuhugot yung ganung uri ng pag-iisip at pamamaraan na yung isang ina, dahil ayaw niya ng ganung klaseng seminar, ay nababawasan ang kanyang benepisyo?”
(Can we consider it responsible parenting when they put Implanon in the arms of a mother so she won’t get pregnant? Is that part of the RH law that Congress approved? Or where do we get that kind of thinking and method wherein a mother will get less benefits because she doesn’t want to attend that kind of seminar?)
The monthly FDS is one of the conditions under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) that beneficiaries should comply with before they can avail of the P500-health grant. They will not get the grant if they fail to attend a session without a valid reason.
With a 2016 target of 4.6 million registered family-beneficiaries, the DSWD is asking Congress for a 4Ps budget of P62.67 billion ($1.34 billion) – bigger than the 2015 budget of P62.32 billion ($1.33 billion).
The proposed DSWD budget for 2016 is P104.01 billion ($2.23 billion), lower than the approved 2015 budget of P108.08 billion ($2.31 billion).
Not a DSWD partner
Soliman denied that they have such arrangements with Likhaan.
“Hindi po namin sila kasama, so ‘di po sila nagpapatupad ng family development session namin (They are not our partner, so they don’t implement our family development session)….Yes, I am denying that we are [a] partner of Likhaan. My information is, Likhaan is a partner of PopCom [Commission on Population], not us,” she explained.
Sought for comment, Likhaan Center for Women’s Health director and co-founder Junice Melgar told Rappler they conduct FDS’ responsible parenthood module in the poorest areas of Manila, at the request of PopCom.
“The module includes responsible parenting, maternal health, and all family planning methods, natural and artificial, according to women’s or couples’ wishes. PopCom, DSWD’s CityLinks, and barangay officials are present at these sessions which are done in barangay halls,” Melgar said in a text message.
She added: “We give a report to PopCom on the attendance at these sessions, but do not know how reports impact on the cash transfers, if at all.”
‘Charges will be filed’
Soliman asked Atienza for names of beneficiaries who claim they do not get their health grants whenever they don’t attend the Likhaan-conducted seminars. She also wants the names of social workers involved.
“From our point of view, hindi po pwede silang maging decision-makers sa pagbabawas. Kami po kasi ang nagsasabi kung sila [beneficiaries] ay nakapag-attend ng family development session, hindi po ang ibang mga organisasyon,” she said.
(From our point of view, they can’t be decision-makers in deducting [cash grants]. We are in charge of saying whether beneficiaries were able to attend the family development session – not other organizations.)
Atienza said charges will be filed regarding this matter.
“We will file the necessary charges, and I hope you take action on them. This is a very serious transgression on the intentions of the CCT program. It’s not supposed to be teaching wrong values, but rather, positive, strengthening values,” he told Soliman.
“E dito po sa nangyayari sa Maynila, ay tunay na nakakabahala. Kung sinasabi niyong ito’y ilegal, kami po’y natutuwa, sapagkat tutugisin po namin sino itong mga nagpapatupad na ‘to at pati mga social welfare people na kasama po sa inyong kagawaran na siyang nagpapatupad nitong uri ng maling sistema ng pagtulong sa mga mahihirap.”
(What’s happening in Manila is truly alarming. If you say this is illegal, we are glad, because we will pursue who these implementors are and even social welfare people from your department who implement this kind of wrong system in helping the poor.) – Rappler.com
US$1 = P46.72
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