PH to mentor Myanmar on CCT

Paterno Esmaquel II
President Benigno Aquino III says Myanmar can learn from one of the Philippines' flagship program against poverty

VISITING CEBU. Myanmar President U Thein Sein arrives in Cebu on Friday, Dec 6, 2013, to show support for relief efforts. Photo courtesy of AFP Central Command

MANILA, Philippines – On its road to democracy, Myanmar will learn a thing or two from the Philippines after President Benigno Aquino III promised to mentor the former military junta on one of its flagship programs against poverty.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma on Friday, December 6, said the Philippines “will share important lessons learned” from its conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme.

In a media briefing, Coloma said the Philippines will do this “in connection with Myanmar’s social protection program.”

Aquino promised this to Myanmar President U Thein Sein, who is on a 3-day state visit in the Philippines.

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?)

The Philippines’ CCT or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program has received praises from the World Bank itself. In March, the WB said the program is “on track to meet the goals of keeping children healthy and in school.” (READ: World Bank gives CCT thumbs up.)

(Learn more in the graphics below.)

SOURCE: World Bank

SOURCE: World Bank

In Myanmar, Thein Sein has pushed for a Social Protection Strategy Framework that “needs comprehensiveness as well as all-inclusiveness.”

In a speech in June 2012, Thein Sein said social protection protection projects should benefit “children, the vulnerable, the aged, women, and the disabled.”

“We firmly believe we can collectively build a Myanmar society where equality and harmony flourish by reinforcing social protection amidst the rapid reforms,” Thein Sein said.

“But let me say frankly the task is formidable for a developing country like us,” he added. “We need a lot of assistance from international organizations and NGOs. Unless there is energetic cooperation, integrated and all inclusive Myanmar social protection system could not be built firmly as we aspire.”

Not just CCT

The CCT scheme is not the only thing Myanmar wants to learn from the Philippines.

In June this year, Myanmar government representatives flew to the Philippines to study another anti-poverty program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

This is the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) program, which employs a community-driven delopment (CDD strategy.)

The DSWD said CDD “puts power back in the hands of the people by giving them the opportunity to have active control in deciding which sub-projects will be implemented in their communities.”

Thein Sein arrived in the Philippines last Wednesday, December 4, for his first state visit here.

The two leaders discussed regional issues and Myanmar’s historic chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014. (Watch more in the video below.)

During his visit, Myanmar signed 6 agreements with the Philippines. These include a historic deal that will allow Filipinos to visit Myanmar visa-free. (READ: Visa-free: Myanmar opens up to PH tourists.) –

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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