By Roi Lomotan
DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development – Negros Island Regional office (DSWD-NIR) is once again stressing that local politicians cannot take advantage of DSWD programs to attract or threaten voters.
According to DSWD-NIR OIC/Regional Director Shalaine Marie Lucero, politicians cannot threaten to remove voters who are also beneficiaries of DSWD programs from any of the department’s development interventions, particularly the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), just because they did not cast their vote for that candidate.
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is the government’s human development measure that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest families throughout the country.
Lucero explained that in the case of Pantawid, there are three main reasons for delisting beneficiaries from the program, and one is failure to comply with the conditions set by 4Ps such as bringing children to health centers, daily attendance to schools, and parent’s attendance to family development sessions.
Another reason for removal from the program is confirmed misuse of cash grants, or when beneficiaries use cash grants for vices like gambling, drinking, etc. instead of using it for its intended purpose which is for immediate family needs.
The third ground for delisting is when the beneficiary experiences improved living condition.
“If before, a person has no job and he has kids who are 0 – 13 years old and then the person becomes a beneficiary of the program and after two years, he gains employment, becomes a teacher and earning enough salary, then we have to remove that person,” she explained.
On the other hand, in the case of DSWD’s Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) Program, Esterlita Villamor, deputy regional program manager of KALAHI for NIR, underscored that the projects funded by the program are owned by the people and cannot be claimed by a single politician.
“If there are counterpart assistance from local officials, local government unit or barangay, we emphasize that the counterpart is from government fund also,” Villamor said.
The issue on the possibility of politicians taking advantage of DSWD programs to bolster their interests and gain votes from voters was discussed during a Kapihan sa PIA forum today.
However, Lucero believes that the beneficiaries of the department’s development programs are now empowered to choose leaders who they think are worthy of their votes.
“We are confident that our beneficiaries can actually decide what’s best for them. They can think for themselves, they can decides for themselves,” Lucero said.
She also noted that the beneficiaries have seen how the government provided interventions to help them improve their way of living and she hopes they will use this as a guide in electing leaders in their locality. (rmn/ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA website on April 20, 2016)