Liza Maza, chair of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, thinks the Conditional Cash Transfer program of the government is not effective.

“By its very concept, the CCT cannot address poverty. I don’t think it will ever, ever address poverty,” the former three-time party-list member of Congress stated.

Maza, known for her pro-poor approaches in governance, instead suggested that the volume of government funds earmarked for CCT be channeled to meaningful investments in livelihood programs.

“This will have greater impact on their lives,” Maza stressed.

The CCT was launched in 2009 in the GMA administration when the initial number of recipient-beneficiaries was only 340,000.

Copied from the original concept of Brazil and Mexico which had startling success, the CCT, from a measly P5B rose to a staggering P70B in the last year of the PNoy administration.

I agree with Sec. Maza. The CCT is a dole-out that feeds the negative traits of mendicancy and indolence.

She enumerated the basic needs that the poor must have access to: food, land reform, water, shelter, health, education, work, social protection, healthy environment, peace and participation.

We all understand the first nine needs. What I want to elaborate on is “participation.”

For me, this means that the poor (21.6% per records of the Philippine Statistic Authority) must have direct involvement in the economic process and growth of the country to enable them to move up and out of the poverty level.

If I understand Maza’s point to the letter, CCT funds should be utilized instead to get the poor involved in self-redeeming activities that would make them less and less dependent on government assistance.

I am leading you, dear readers, to the concept of a cooperative economy which transformed Israel, through the kibbutz, to its present economic status.

A bill in Congress, HB 4174 creating the Department of Cooperatives, is now pending. It has already the support of One Hundred Forty (140) members of the House of Representatives who signed as co-authors of the bill principally sponsored by Reps. Maria Valentina Plaza, Prospero Pichay, Manuel Zubiri, Evelyn Mellana and party-list congressmen Sabiniano Canama and Rico Geron who are representing the cooperative sector.

If Sec. Maza is reading this, I would invite her to link up with Congw. Plaza et al because HB 4174 is a pro-poor, anti-poverty legislation that will benefit people from all walks of life, including the unemployable thousands (ex-convicts, reformed drug-users, rebel returnees, the unskilled and uneducated, etc).

Rep. Canama, in fact, has been moving around the countryside, talking to officials and members of cooperative federations. He says the cooperative movement and stakeholders are in total support for the passage of HB 4174. Even the CDA leadership, to repeat, is encouraging the principal authors to push and push.

I believe that Sec. Maza, being NAPC chair, can contribute a lot of inputs.

For this matter, I also think that the Church, through the CBCP, might be invited to endorse HB 4174 because the cooperative movement is continually growing in numbers. Latest count from CDA is that there are now 25,000 active cooperatives with 14M members. (Email your feedback to fredlumba@yahoo.com.) GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!