Wednesday, February 27, 2013

4Ps and Politics

As early as March last year, top honchos of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have already warned local officials against using the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for their partisan political ends, but how about national candidates?

Now that May 13 polls is just around the corner, it is expected that the 4Ps Grievance Redress System (GRS) would receive left and right protests or grievances coming from political camps especially in provinces such as Occidental Mindoro where politicking is so intense and yes,… year-round.

Carrying the slogan"Makialam. Magsumbong. Bawal ang Epal Dito", the social welfare department will be launching this March an advocacy campaign which aims to empower the beneficiaries to participate in this campaign and to protect the households from baseless threats of removal from the program if they will not support political entities in the upcoming elections. The department reiterated that only DSWD and not the politicians has the say in delisting or removal of a beneficiary if s/he will not comply with the conditions earlier set for the cash transfer.

In short, the DSWD one-line message is this: “Pantawid Pamilya is not a campaign vehicle for political advancement." In short, 4Ps as a national government program is not supporting any partisan political party whether local or national. How about Team PNoy?

In August 3, 2012, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, issued a directive that prohibits  4Ps field implementers from threatening or intimidating any beneficiary to attend any partisan political activity; employing deceit or misrepresentation to gather beneficiaries for a political caucus, meeting, rally or other assemblies in the guise of an official program activity; active endorsement of a political candidate or party to beneficiaries; distributing partisan political literature or campaign materials to beneficiaries during official program activity; allowing the program or any activities of the program to be used as a vehicle for partisan political activities; or performing any act that promotes any political candidacy or party.   

On the other hand, according to reports, the department is respecting the rights of beneficiaries in choosing their political party and candidates. DSWD emphasized that beneficiaries should only support or endorse any political candidate or parties as citizens of the country and NOT as beneficiaries of the program. Violators are going to face sanctions. In short, when they (the beneficiaries and implementers) campaign, they should not use the name of 4Ps in vain. Hopefully they would. Let us pray.

Those workers who felt threatened by politicians must report immediately so that corrective measures will be taken up, according to DSWD. The beneficiaries are those who are in a dilemma if elections or politicians truly make their lives light or heavy. Are elections and politicians the main problem or the main solution? The answer rests in our hands as a nation.

Needless to say, politicians, especially the traditional ones, those who come-and-go in every elected positions, those who are members of a political dynasty, know that there are many ways to skin a cat and avoid illegal electioneering. Soliman’s directive would only be saving the program from pangs of partisan politics but not the beneficiaries from political peril. 

Nevertheless, vigilance of the beneficiaries/stakeholders is a must this election season. Each 4Ps beneficiary must realize that s/he is not a lowly 2Ps: Political Pawn!...


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