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Written by Partido Lakas ng Masa   
Sunday, 10 April 2011 10:12

The Government Has Failed to Address Poverty in its First Year in Office

 

The latest SWS survey showing an increase in hunger is a major concern that must be taken seriously and not brushed off in a squabble over statistics. According to the March 4-7 poll 20.5% of respondents -- or an estimated 4.1 million families -- have gone hungry at least once in the past three months. This is up from the estimated 3.4 million families recorded in November 2010, i.e., almost one million extra families are going hungry today due to poverty. Along with the other examples of poverty and marginalization – such as the shocking deaths of up to 30 people in Palawan, including children, due to easily preventable ailments such as diarrhea – this demonstrates that the situation of the masa is deteriorating.

 

What is equally of concern to us is the response of President Noynoy Aquino: his expression of disbelief at the survey results. According to the President the figures are skewed because the impact of the conditional cash transfers (CCT) measures of the government implemented in Visayas and Mindanao, have not been reflected in the survey.

 

Bickering about statistics when people are going hungry does not do justice to a government that claims to be serious about reducing poverty. The fact is that wide-spread poverty, and related hunger, continues to exist and is the most serious socio-economic problem that the country faces today. We don’t need statistics to tell us this. The masa know this and we experience it in our daily lives. The deteriorating situation of the masa and the seeming inability of the government to reverse the trend represent the failure of the government to carry out its promise of poverty reduction during its first year in office.

 

The President refers to the CCT program, but CCTs are specific measures used to address some aspects of poverty and are usually short-term, implemented during periods of crises (and even on this score they’re effectiveness is debatable). CCTs are not development programs and cannot substitute for comprehensive development and poverty reduction strategies. The fact that the President can only point to the CCT measures is an indication that the government has no meaningful development program and strategy to address poverty. This is a major concern.

 

This is no time to squabble over statistics. We needed far reaching reforms and strategies – at least 12 months ago. Without meaningful measures and reforms the situation for the masa will continue to worsen, and poverty and hunger will increase. The President must put forward a concrete development plan. The President must have a clear strategy for poverty reduction and must have the political will to implement them. At the heart of such a strategy and plan should be far-reaching measures for job creation for the country’s citizens – not CCTs. There is no time to waste. The people are hungry and are getting desperate. A first step to providing the masa with immediate protection against sliding further into poverty would be for the President to mandate a meaningful increase in the minimum wage for all workers.

 

 


Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2011 10:17
 

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