Saturday, July 16, 2011


THE National Secretariat for Social Action is spearheading a National Poverty Summit next month. The objective of the summit, according to Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of NASSA, is to look into the real causes of poverty and “decide which way to take.”

There had been big conferences and even commendable studies on the real causes of poverty notably by the government during the administration of President Fidel Ramos, but once development goals are set they remain just that. This is not to say, however, that just because nothing happens after these big conferences are concluded, especially now on poverty, doing them again is a waste of time. On the contrary, they should be held more frequently if only to deliver a message to Malacañang and most legislators that even Mang Pandoy at the barbershop in the corner knows what the whole trouble with the country is.

One can blow his top finding the logic of why Malacañang can be in the clouds while sorting solutions to the worsening poverty and then coming up with the seemingly big deal band-aid solutions the likes of Conditional Cash Transfer Program and the “Pantawid Pasada Program.” It is either something is wrong with the logic or there are more logical agenda that overweighs the hunger pangs of the masses. Take, for instance, the persistent pursuit of the Reproductive Health Bill. People in the know have been saying that this highly divisive and socially costly Bill is not any solution to poverty or hunger, and yet Malacañang by implication says it is. And while the streets are wondering why waste so much time and resources on a bill that is not going to help a bit the pitiful lot of Filipinos, some legislators suddenly comes up with a queer variation of the same bill—the divorce bill. O tempora, O mores!

At the onset of this Administration, people were of the perception that here at last is a leader that would be an antithesis of the previous that had been so much dinted with allegations of corruption and cunning. Nothing was more exhilarating than hearing slogans as “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” But now that the veneer of a deceiving perception is gone, one finds out a puppy with a different collar. In fact, a collar that is bleaker.

Of late, IBON Foundation reported that the Philippines’ first-quarter GDP growth of 4.9 percent is very slow, because principally this administration has been banking on “PPP-driven infrastructure, multi-million cash dole outs, global economic recovery, and the supposed ‘business and consumer’ trust in government.” It added that the government might do better if only it will devote its energy to building “domestic economic momentum by addressing job generation and creation conditions for strong domestic industry and agriculture”—instead of, if one may add, wasting its energy on useless pursuits.

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