"Kadmali" - might be Ay Mali after all!

Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan
Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front
29 May 2012

SOCIAL Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman and her ilk should not mistake the bestowal of the "Kadmali" local name on herself by local government officials of the town of Besao, Mountain Province recently as a sign that the people of the Cordillera or at least of that remote town have been lifted from poverty. Far from the truth, the so-called adoption as "daughter of the Mountain Province" early this month is a farce that attempts to cover the failure of the US-Aquino regime's promise to deliver basic services to the people.

For one, the Conditional Cash Transfer or Programa para sa Pantawid sa Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) covers only a miniscule portion of the Cordillera population and yet has so many provisions that virtually reduces the actual dole out that is in fact a counterinsurgency ploy and milking cow of unscrupulous politicos and agency heads at different levels.

With the spiraling cost of living and low income of the indigenous population, the P300 per month provision for every school-going child is a drop in a bucket. Yet the faƧade of benevolence runs smack against the reality that the educational system is so bankrupt that even the region's least impoverished province, Benguet, has 1/3 of its 359 schools lacking such basic facilities as one seat for every child. Like all targets of CCT nationwide, in 8-9 out of every 10 schools there is not sufficient books in every subject to cover each student and class rooms to house these school children.

Likewise, the DSWD's 4Ps fails when it requires medical checkups for each of the supposed 54,000 beneficiary families in the region availing of the fund, knowing that only 3-4 out of every 10 CCT municipalities nationwide has a doctor or nurse for every 20,000, or even one midwife for every 5,000. Thus the poor beneficiary family has to travel or walk to the provincial capital that is sometimes a hundred kilometers away, spending in advance so much of the allocated CCT fund, just to have a regular checkup.

Soliman's CCT program, like most other government dole out projects, is so anomalous that over 1,000 families were delisted from the program last year, 164 of them from the Cordillera region alone last August 2011. In other places, the DSWD officer in charge of the program would require beneficiaries to purchase from stores owned by the same official, albeit in "advance" of the release of funds.

The actual experience with the much-ballyhooed CCT is far worse, with the fascist troops of the AFP barging into the houses of poor Ifugao families, confiscating ATM bank cards that are utilized by the beneficiary to withdraw funds, ostensibly after accusing the beleaguered people of supporting the NPA.

The DSWD program of Soliman fails because the basic livelihood of the indigenous peoples have not improved. In the province wherein she received her "bestowal" as "tribal Goddess", farm-to-market roads are virtually inadequate and more appropriately described as abortion roads, with the passage from the provincial capitol to the eastern towns faster via Cagayan Valley than through the arterial roads that have long become milking cows of unscrupulous contractors/politicos. The yearly including special fund allocations for the Sabangan-Tadian-Cervantes highway, bridges have remained unfinished for decades as their construction progress takes a toll on the Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) of certain congressmen who make sure "farm-to-mansion" roads are given priorities.

Dinky Soliman, the politician who arranged the cosmetic ceremonies, and her MalacaƱang employer hide from the public the fact that the current CCT program is funded largely by a 25-year loan that would bleed our children and grandchildren some P44.31 billion in interest and payments come maturity period.

The indigenous people of the Cordillera are not easily swayed by such cheap gimmickry and fanfare. As they strengthen and expand their revolutionary organizations and forge heightened unity to advance the people's war to higher stage, the poor families know that it is not Kadmali but Ay Mali for the DSWD and Pnoy Aquino to not listen to the real clamor of the people for genuine development, national industrialization and agrarian revolution!