SOME beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s pro-poor program pawn their cash cards to usurers for as much as P1,000 each.

Cielo Alcoran, head of the DSWD provincial operations of the Pantawid Pamilyang Program, said she has no exact number of how many beneficiaries pawn their cash cards, but they have pinpointed the areas where the practice is prevalent.

Alcoran named Barangays Puntod and Camaman-an in Cagayan de Oro and the municipality of Dangcagan in Bukidnon province.

“There are also reports from the rest of the provinces in Northern Mindanao. We do not have yet the exact number,” she said.

As of April 2015, there are 259,797 4Ps beneficiaries in the five provinces of Northern Mindanao.

Alcoran said many beneficiaries told them they were forced to pawn their cash cards after they ran out of rice.

She said the beneficiaries pay usurious rates to redeem their cards.

“For the P500 they borrowed, the beneficiaries pay P600. For P1,000, the beneficiaries pay P1,200,” she said.

“It is really usurious rate of 5-6 percent,” she added.

Alcoran said loan sharks usually mingle with vendors whenever the beneficiaries collect their money at the Land Bank of the Philippines branches.

She said the DSWD has implemented some measures to discourage beneficiaries from pawning their cards.

For the first offense, Alcoran said the DSWD will issue a stern warning to the beneficiaries. If caught for the second time, beneficiaries are suspended for two months.

Alcoran said for the third offense, beneficiaries will be stricken from the program.

Under the Pantawid Pamilya Program, a family receives at least P3,200 every two months—supposedly enough to cover expenses for food, education and health.