“It’s not a dole-out, nor is it politically motivated.”
This was the message of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in answer to criticisms hurled against the government’s Pantawid Pamilya program.
Critics have labeled the monthly cash grants extended by the government to identified indigent families under said program, as dole-outs.
Bella Tse, the program’s coordinator for Negros Oriental, said the payroll of the benefiting families are generated based on their compliance with a set of conditions.
Tse said that if beneficiaries fail to comply with the conditions, they will either be dropped from the payroll or their cash aid will be deducted.
“So how can this be a dole-out?” Tse asked.
One of the program’s requirements is for the studying children of recipient-families to maintain 85% attendance in school. “If they don’t comply with this, P300 will be deducted from their cash aid in the next month’s payroll,” stressed Tse.
The same conditions apply for the health requirement also. “If they don’t comply with even just one condition, P500 will be deducted from their grant,” she said.
On the other hand, some of the program beneficiaries have linked the program to political issues especially after the 2010 elections. “We heard complaints from some recipients who asked why their names were dropped from the payroll and they insinuated that it must be because of their political leanings. There is no truth to this because there are no interventions from any political person in this program and the payroll is generated from DSWD,” Tse said.
She explained that some names were removed from the roster due to valid reasons, most common of which is incorrect data collected during the interview phase of the program. “For example, instead of 1999 being the birthdate of the beneficiary, the year written down during the interview is 1969. So this disqualifies the beneficiary from receiving the education grant as the eligible age is zero to 14 years old only,” she added.
Aside from failure to comply with the program’s conditions, discrepancies such as inconsistent data is also another ground for disqualification. “During the interview stage, some of the recipients’ names were erroneously encoded into the database,” Tse said.
Tse said they have a hard time making the beneficiaries understand the reasons behind their removal from the payroll. “Most of them have not even encountered a computer, so we have a hard time explaining the complexities of our database,” she lamented.
Tse assured that DSWD is now exerting efforts to correct inconsistencies in their database through their Beneficiary Update System, under which DSWD personnel will painstakingly correct and update the data on the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. “This will take time because we have to encode all the data at the regional office and afterwards recommend it to the national DSWD office for approval,” she said. (RMN/PIA Negros Oriental)