Philippines using biometrics to curb cash grant fraud

August 24, 2012 - 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Eastern Visayas, Philippines will be using biometrics to combat fraud in the distribution of cash grants to beneficiaries under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Using biometrics “will improve the modes of releasing cash aid and the recording of data of the project’s beneficiaries,” said DSWD Regional Director Leticia Diokno after their office received reports that recipients of cash grants have been making their automated teller machine (ATM) cards as collateral to loan sharks. Passwords are shared, thus, people withdrawing the cash aid are actually non-beneficiaries.

The biometrics system was developed by students trained by the provincial government of Leyte through the “Income Creating Opportunities through Technology Project – Information Technology (ICOT-P IT)” project. Biometrics data and personal information will be captured from the beneficiaries. It will replace the ATM cards currently being used in claiming cash aid. Instead, the beneficiaries will be required to claim and withdraw the cash aid personally.

The system already underwent a “mock test” supervised by Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla. It will be launched in the Matag-ob, Leyte in the latter part of August. If this is found successful, it will be used in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

It should be noted that prior to implementing the 4Ps, the DSWD conducted the National Household Targeting Systems for Poverty Reduction program to identify who are the poor and where are the poor. Eastern Visayas has about 91 percent of the villages living below poverty threshold, with 259,104 households covered by 4Ps.

In December 2011, DSWD Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman has already announced the change in the modes of releasing and recording data. She had said that the biometrics project will initially be tried in Leyte and ARMM in 2012, as she has yet to come up with the budget as to how many tablets and biometrics will be needed for its implementation.

Soliman assured that with technological advances, it will help the government save a lot of money since it will no longer have to pay banks for the distribution of cash aid. The important thing is to eliminate fraud in the implementation of the project before it gets worst.

4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the Philippines’ national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14.

The beneficiaries receive monthly stipend of 500 pesos per mother and 300 pesos for each of the qualified child up to three children. In total, a family can receive a maximum of 1,400 pesos monthly as long as they abide by conditions such as mothers availing of pre-and post-natal care check-ups, their children immunized, and attends 85 percent of their classes.

Do you think using biometrics will stop beneficiaries from going to loan sharks and using their cash aid as collateral?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.