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THE straight and narrow path, or “matuwid na daan” in Filipino, is where President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III says he wishes all Filipinos would tread. And perhaps to prove that he’s not all talk and no action, Aquino has splurged billions of pesos on many “pantawid” (“tide over” in English) programs that all involve cash subsidies for the poor.

SHE HAD neither bought a lotto ticket nor joined a TV game show. But Marissa felt like she won the jackpot anyway late last year, when her family was chosen as one of the recipients of the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program.