Baguio City – The Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) discussed the difficulties related to the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program in the region. On October 9, during the RSDC regular meeting, the committee agreed to draft a resolution requesting the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to relax its guidelines on the release of UCT for beneficiaries from far flung areas in the Cordillera.
The UCT, a cash transfer project scheme to minimize the effects of the TRAIN Law, “seeks to provide cash grants to poor households or individuals who will not benefit from the lower income tax rates but maybe adversely affected by rising prices”. The UCT covers three existing cash transfer tracks which are the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Social Pension Program, and National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (Listahanan).
Latest data indicate that 7,652 4Ps beneficiaries and 19,767 Social Pension Program beneficiaries remain unpaid in the Cordillera. The large number of unpaid beneficiaries was attributed to the LBP guidelines restricting the travel time of LBP cash-delivering armored cars to only 2 hours. Further, the armored cars are limited in terms of the type of terrain they can traverse. The LBP central office in Manila holds biddings for cash transport services of conduits. RSDC chair and DSWD Regional Dir. Janet Armas notes that beneficiaries of the program in Apayao and Kalinga are being serviced by conduits from Abulog and Aparri in Cagayan, respectively.
Considering the rugged terrain of the Cordillera and the far-flung location of the municipalities where much of the beneficiaries are located, the committee observed that such restrictions caused delays in the implementation of the project.
This concern shall be submitted to the next RDC en Banc meeting for discussion and proper disposition. The NEDA-CAR as the secretariat of the RSDC shall submit their concern to the upcoming national social development committee and RSDC consultative meeting in November 2018.
This is a stark example of the misalignment of national policies and its implementation in the geographically and culturally unique region which Cordillera autonomy hopes to address.
By Marlo T. Lubguban