IN a recent news story by CBCPNews, Fr. Dari Dioquino, a priest who is in-charge of a home for the aged, is reportedly alarmed by the growing number of homeless people especially in Metro Manila and in urban centers around the country. He did not base his assessment from any government statistics or from some social surveys but from his daily work of tending to the poor and the abandoned.
The alarming growth rate of the homeless is true, too, in other countries—even in wealthy ones, like the United States of America. But what is strange in this country is that nobody talks about it, not even in the media where it is yet a non-issue. It is either that their sight has become normal fixtures of, for instance, Manila by night or people have just been so used with their presence and have become numb to provoke some qualms of social conscience.
Truth to tell, the homeless are one of the better indicators of a plummeting society in terms of economy, political governance and social responsibility. Ironically, the present dispensation has been trumpeting a 7.2 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is relatively high compared to Asian neighbors. But only the rub is, it is never felt. Some independent economists call this situation a “jobless growth” because while the GDP soars in statistical figures, ground reality records an increasing joblessness. The lack of jobs should logically trigger a slowdown in economic growth and an increasing hunger and poverty index.
That economic logic does not appear in government statistics. In fact, what is being spinned now is the increasing government efforts towards inclusive growth that gives a wide window of opportunity for the poor to improve their lot. The so-called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps is among those at the forefront of this political initiative, which, again, is not making a dent of good on the ground.
Not to mention the recent squabble over large scale corruption of pork in both houses of congress and among the president’s men—which has been the sole culprit for the retrogression of this country—people have shown their frustration for the Aquino government.
Atty. Jose Sison tells it better in his recent column at the Philippine Star. He writes, “People feel that it was a bigger mistake to have elected P-Noy as president because of what is happening in our country right now. After four years in office people are not only disappointed because of failed expectation. They are actually disgruntled and angry because the present government appears to be worse than the previous ones not only in the performance of their jobs as public servants, but also and more especially in avoiding and preventing graft and corruption. Scams and anomalous deals are still happening and appear to be on a bigger scale.”
But the homeless are not indicators. They are people, brothers and sisters. In July last year, Pope Francis invited 200 homeless individuals to dinner at the Vatican. Hereabouts, Caritas Manila does that in so many ways which includes the program called “Hapag-asa”.