Senator Chiz Escudero asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to strengthen its screening procedure for recipients of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme and step up the process of weeding out spurious names from the list of deserving beneficiaries under the government’s flagship poverty alleviation program.

Escudero put to task the DSWD following reports quoting a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which showed that one-third of the P62 billion allocated for the CCT program last year did not go to the poor.

Since the centerpiece poverty reduction program was put in place by the DSWD, only a small fraction has been delisted while the weeding out process has been slow, Escudero noted.

“They have delisted less than five percent since the program began,” Escudero said. “While the weeding out process is ongoing, it is too slow given the magnitude.”

He added: “We are throwing away money to those who do not need or deserve it to the exclusion of those who might or other worthwhile endeavors that also need funding and fiscal space.”

According to Escudero, it was alarming to know that about 30 percent, or P19 billion, of money allocated for the monthly cash doleouts did not go to the intended beneficiaries.

“That is quite alarming because we are talking about P19 billion in government funds meant for poor families. This is another injustice to the poorest of the poor who are the target beneficiaries of the poverty reduction program,” the lawmaker said.

The senator said it was the DSWD’s job to ensure that funds earmarked for the program, officially known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, will go only to the most vulnerable sectors.

“If the funds fail to reach the intended recipients, then it defeats the purpose of the program which is to provide social protection for and directly assist the poorest members of society,” Escudero said.

The program provides cash grants to targeted poor Filipino families based on sustained, verified compliance with certain health and education conditions. Such conditions include sending children to school, ensuring they receive regular checkups, and participating in family planning and nutrition.

Under the cash assistance program implemented by the DSWD, each identified poor family receives a monthly stipend of up to P1,400, or a total of P15,000 every year for five years, on condition that it sends children to school and clinics for vaccination, among others.

The program was patterned after the conditional cash transfer schemes in Latin America and African countries, which have lifted millions of people around the world