MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said the purchase of Samsung Galaxy phones for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was part of the “administration” costs of undertaking the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.
The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier questioned the purchase of 30 units of Galaxy phones, which cost a total of P342,400, and 2011 planners worth P428,750, using CCT funds.
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the phones are being used to monitor the CCT program, which is expected to cover 3.5 million poor households nationwide by 2013.
“Part of the budget for the Conditional Cash Transfer, may administrative component po ‘yan e. ‘Yong administrative component makes sure that it has the wherewithal to monitor the CCT, and in fact, that is what they have as what they call the operational fund. ‘Yon po ang tinitingnan po papaano natin mamomonitor po lahat ‘yan. So we need staff also to monitor that, and that’s part of it,” Lacierda said.
The palace official gave assurance, however, that the issue has been resolved. He said after Senator Franklin Drilon raised the issue on the CCT’s operational fund at a budget hearing in Senate, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman agreed to reduce the fund.
The proposed operational fund was P44.25 billion.
“Secretary Dinky Soliman said, we can lower that. In fact, they lowered it already based on the discussions with Senator Franklin Drilon,” Lacierda said. “So that has been resolved already. That’s part of the operational fund.”
The CCT is the core of the Aquino administration’s anti-poverty program.
Under the program, families may qualify for a maximum monthly stipend of P1,400. Of this amount, families may receive P500 per month for meeting health conditions, and an additional of up to P900 per child per month for meeting educational conditions.
The DSWD’s national household targeting system, which utilizes state-of-the-art technology, identifies the poorest households who are eligible for the program.
Families must meet a number of conditions in order to receive cash transfers, including:
- Children 6-14 years must be enrolled in school, and attend at least 85% of the time;
- Pregnant women must receive pre-natal and post-natal care;
- Parents must attend Family Development Sessions;
- Children under 5 years of age must receive regular preventive health checkups and vaccinations; and
- Children in elementary school must receive deworming treatment at least twice a year.