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Drilon files expanded CCT bill

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has filed the proposed Philippine Conditional Cash Transfer Act which seeks to institutionalize and expand the reach of the anti-poverty program amid fears that it might be discontinued by the Duterte administration.

Drilon said that under his measure, Senate Bill No. 12, at least a million and half Filipino families are expected to join the current number of 4.4 million poor families who are being given economic assistance by the government through the CCT or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program so that they could rise out of poverty and get better access to educational and health services.

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV’’ Ejercito, a member of the opposition group in the 24-member Senate, had wanted the CCT program scrapped because it allows the mendicancy problem to prosper.

Other critics had wanted a major portion of the R63-billion CCT program diverted to the reforestation program designed to accelerate the greening of the country’s bald mountains.

Under the Senate reorganizational plan of incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a party mate of President Duterte, in the upcoming 17th Congress that starts July 25, Drilon will be named as the Senate President Pro Tempore while Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III will become the Senate Majority Leader, replacing Sen. Alan Peter S. Cayetano.

Drilon bill pointed out that at least 1.5 million families formally classified under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction as “near poor,” or whose income are only slightly above the poverty threshold, will benefit from his bill, if it is passed into law.

Drilon maintained that enactment of his bill into law would also ensure steady funding for the CCT, as it will now regularly receive the necessary funds under the General Appropriation Act or national budget. (Mario B. Casayuran)