A presidential candidate is either a big liar or a hilarious copy cat.

Vice President Jejomay Binay, a leading candidate for Prfesident, is now saying he will continue with PNoy’s 4Ps program and even improve on it by adding teeth to it.

4Ps is PNoy’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program that has won the accolade from international groups including the World Bank.

Before Binay’s turnaround on the value of this 4P’s or CCT to the poor sector of Philippine society, he has been attacking the program as useless waste of money while politicizing it. The Vice President accused the administration of using government funds to “buy” votes in this 4Ps program.

While the CCT was under fire from Binay, international organizations were celebrating its success, earning international recognition for Sec. Dinky Soliman of the DSWD.

Not only World Bank was happy with CCT or 4Ps, the people were also satisfied that four out of five Filipinos said they will support a President that will support the CCT.

This SWS survey result on public support to CCT contradicted results of presidential aspirants popularity surveys placing Mar Roxas in fourth place and Binay taking the top spot.

Roxas has always championed the government position on the CCT, even promising to improve its reach. The eighty-percent support to CCT, when converted to a vote to Roxas, means a landslide win for the former DILG secretary.

This contradiction most likely did not escape notice from Binay’s operators, prompting the sudden turnaround of the Vice President on the issue.

From the Vice President claiming in an event last July that 30% percent of CCT beneficiaries cannot even be classified as poor, citing outdated 2009 data from the Asian Development Bank, Binay has done a 180-degree flop on the CCT program. Not only has he decided to continue the 4Ps, he has even planned to add another “P” to it – “pustiso,” referring to free dentures for senior citizens.

Given the Vice President’s predilection to corruption, Binay’s change of tune was absurd at best, according to Daang Matuwid Coalition spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.

In a statement issued on March 9, Gutierrez mocked the vice-president’s vow to continue (and expand) the CCT program, noting that the Binay camp – especially Senator Nancy Binay, the vice-president’s daughter – had questioned the additional budget for the CCT program.

“Dati kinukwestiyon ni Senator Nancy Binay ang pagdagdag ng budget sa 4Ps. Pero ngayong malinaw na pabor ang karamihan ng Pilipino sa programang ito, nagbago ang tono nila,” Gutierrez noted.

Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas has also hit on the apparent “flip-flopping” of his rivals – most notably VP Binay – as their way of trying to appease the public and win their votes.

“Yung mga katunggali naming, dati, ayaw ang 4Ps. Kini-criticize nila and 4Ps, iimbestigahan ‘yung 4Ps. Ngayon na naklita na nila na matagumpay ang 4Ps, gusto nila umangkas ngayon, gusto nila sumabay,” Roxas said on March 8.

Far-reaching Benefits

It’s no surprise that VP Binay has suddenly switched sides on the CCT issue – after all, the program has, over an eight-year period since its inception in 2007, has proved to be an enormous boost not only for the Philippines’ poor families, but for the national economy as well.

As of last year, the CCT program had 4,436,732 household-beneficiaries, including 10,888,887 schoolchildren.

The World Bank itself had lauded the CCT program for its impact not only on the poorest Filipinos, but on the national economy as well.

Last September, a WB report hailed the CCT program as one of the “largest and best targeted safety net programs in the world.”

WB has noted that, for every dollar transferred to the household, it generates net income ranging from $1.334 to $2.52 on the local economy – vital income needed to boost local business, from school enrolment and attendance to health care and food security.

But more than the economic impacts of the 4Ps program, the World Bank has also noted other far-reaching benefits of the CCT project, such as the following:

• More 4Ps mothers delivered in health facilities in the past 5 years, with 7 in 10 live births among 4Ps mothers compared to 5.5 in 10 births among non-beneficiary mothers.
• Gross enrollment rate for high school students 12-15 years old is higher for Pantawid Pamilya children living near the poverty threshold.
• Pantawid Pamilya households also invest more on education. Pantawid Pamilya households spent P206 more per school aged child per year compared to non-beneficiary households.
• Pantawid Pamilya seems to have improved parents' perception of their situation and of their children's future. It encourages Pantawid Pamilya parents (87% vs. 81%) to aspire for a better future.
• Cash grants under the 4Ps have helped to bring about near-universal enrolment of elementary age children (6–11 years old), according to the Asian Development Bank. Pantawid mothers are more likely to seek pre-and-post-natal care and deliver babies in health facilities. Child labor among participating households has decreased by an average of 7 days per month. Moreover, since Pantawid benefits were extended to high schools students aged 15-18 in 2014, enrolment rate for children aged 12–15 was 6 percentage points higher among Pantawid households than non-Pantawid ones.
• According to a World Bank report entitled “The Social Safety Nets 2015,” the 4Ps proved to be effective in decreasing alcoholism among Filipino indigent families. WB stated in the report that the program’s focus on spending money on education has lowered CCT-covered families’ consumption of “vice goods” such as alcoholic drinks. Spending on such vices was lower by 39 percent in families covered by Pantawid Pamilya than those that don’t get the dole, according to the report.

Vote-Rich Opportunity

With the far-reaching benefits of the 4Ps, more and more Filipinos are seeing the program as a necessary maneuver to boost local economy and uplift the lives of the Philippines’ poorest of the poor – a kind of support that can easily translate into votes for the 2016 presidential elections.

A recent survey from Social Weather Stations (SWS) has shown that 80% of the survey respondents – ergo, four out of five Filipinos – say that they will vote for a candidate who would sustain the 4Ps program.

No wonder Binay suddenly made a full flop and, after lambasting the CCT program as a virtual “bribe,” now fully supports the program as if it was his own.

Conclusion: either Binay is outright lying, or he is becoming desperate to recast his image to bolster his chances of winning the 2016 elections.

The Vice President’s blatant contradictions in his statements about the CCT program just shows that he has been out of touch and insensitive to the needs of the country’s poor – and he has repeatedly cast himself as a “pro-poor” candidate!

If VP Binay is so sure on continuing the CCT program, why did it take him so long to realize its obvious benefits to Filipinos and the national economy?

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Saturday, 18 August 2018
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