Press Release
November 23, 2010


Senator Franklin Drilon has proposed the creation of an inter-agency secretariat to oversee the implementation of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, effectively scrapping a bicameral oversight panel recommended by the House of Representatives.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, announced this on Tuesday as he endorsed House Bill No. 3101 in plenary, saying it was part of the safeguards for effective implementation of the cash grant pegged at P21.9 billion included in next year's outlay.

"After the budget is approved and it becomes law, the realignment is a function of the executive branch. And in my view, you cannot vest upon the oversight committee to realign items in the budget," Drilon said.

He added: "We have all the power of the purse while the budget is being deliberated, but once the GAA [General Appropriations Act] is enacted, the power to realign the budget in the executive branch belongs to the President, not to the oversight committee."

The inter-agency panel will be composed of the Social Welfare department as the implementing agency of CCT, Education and Health departments.

Further, a special provision has been included requiring that funds released by Budget department for the actual cash grant for the CCT program shall be directly released and deposited to government depository banks, and in their absence, in rural and other thrift banks duly accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. No DSWD employee, officer, member of the CCT secretariat and local government official shall directly handle funds intended for the cash grant.

Drilon has earlier indicated that the chamber will retain the proposed P21 billion CCT allocation, saying it must be given a chance sans its effective implementation critical to addressing extreme hunger and poverty being suffered by approximately 4 million families.

The senator noted that since lawmakers have been allocated with priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and internal revenue allotment (IRA) for local government units, it is about time for poor families to have IRA or PDAF.

"It is about time that we have pork barrel for the poor if you want to call it at that, or Internal Revenue allotment for the poor. It is a direct assistance and hopefully it can bring them up from the very poor to a little bit better life after the five-year program," he added.

The CCT empowers extremely poor families to seek access to the government's health and education services.

Drilon, meanwhile, expressed confidence the budget will be passed before the congressional break next month, following a move from Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad asking the chamber to disregard fund increase requests from various departments, unless cleared with the Budget department.

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