Elections and Edsa I: Focus on poverty

ariel nepomuceno_1OURS is a country where highly skilled hardworking masons and carpenters have no decent homes. Chefs and servers are mostly deprived of enjoying great food on their own tables at home. Farmers and agricultural workers worry on what to have for their next meal.  Teachers yearn for better education. And government workers   hope that their children will join the private sector instead of continuing their noble sacrifice of serving the public.

Our economy breeds insecurity. Its structure perpetuates deprivation of basic commodities to a growing number of indigents. Poverty is everywhere. Crime worsens as a result. Use and peddling of illegal drugs proliferate to no less than 80 percent of our barangays, according to official reports. Unemployment and underemployment continue to haunt our work force.

Alarming trend

According to the most recent statistics, our unemployment rate is at 5.6 percent or equivalent to 2.4 million Filipinos. And 17.7 percent of our work force is underemployed. Meaning, workers have to settle for a job below their educational qualification or training.

At present, there are at least 12 million Filipinos who live below the poverty threshold. This means they take only a meal a day and are not sure if they will have anything for the next day. They have no decent homes or access to education.

Yearly, at least 20,000 of our countrymen take the plunge and risk working in foreign and sometimes strange lands to join the more than 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who pursue their dream to have better lives for their families.

The usual suspects

As a nation, we must finally directly address the perennial causes of our poverty. We have known the reasons our country has suffered economically. Discussions and debates have clearly identified the culprits that plagued our nation.

First in the list is our country’s uncompetitiveness. Our industries could hardly compete because of their higher operating expense attributed to the cost of electricity.  We have one of the highest in Asia at $0.18 per kilowatt. Another main stumbling block is our constitution’s prohibition on corporate structure, which bans full ownership by foreign capital. This is an anathema, an ultimate vestige of our protectionist past, which only protects vested interests that push the majority’s welfare on the side. Land ownership by foreigners too is banned. This is a disincentive that our neighbors already got rid of years ago.

Next is the inefficiency of governance. Corruption is still prevalent. Though, at least, the administration of President Aquino has given us hope that this cancer can still be reversed. He made a dent on the callous long culture of corruption in the government. Six years obviously is not enough. Still far from over, this must be stopped with a determined leadership.

Another problem is a demoralized bureaucracy because our government employees themselves struggle daily against the onslaught of poverty. A demoralized work force tends to become part of the problem rather than the solution.

Begin solving the problem

The list of the reasons we continuously suffer from poverty is long. Some of which unfortunately even started the vicious cycle of poverty causing crime, and crime aggravating poverty by scaring businesses away and worsening the social conditions in our communities.

Election is just around the corner. The debates must focus on this main concern. Poverty must be at the center of the arena. The discourses   must be designed to provide the specific steps to finally begin our journey to national survival. Edsa I commemoration must also hit our economic dilemma apart from celebrating the political freedom that we won in 1986.

Our candidates and present leaders must be encouraged or forced to answer specific questions on constitutional amendments affecting the economy, high cost of electricity, government inefficiencies, crime being a deterrent to investors, rice-importation policies, mining strategies, improvement of our tourism industry and support for our OFWs.

There is still time. We must be able to clearly identify who can best answer and show that they have the capability to end our nation’s economic poverty to complement our hard-earned political freedom.


For comments and suggestions, send to arielnepo.businessmirror@gmail.com.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article

New rules in securing tax clearance

Next Article

NPO executives get the boot despite saving government millions

Related Posts

Column box-John Mangun-Outside the Box
Read more

Root cause to root solution

Solutions are more complicated than the Problems. Take the Christian doctrine of the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. A “momentary” act of disobedience leads to consequences that then take millennia to be resolved through a “Messiah.”

Joint patrols to protect PHL’s right to explore and utilize energy resources in West Philippine Sea

The 2016 Arbitral Award ruled that the sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea exclusively belong to the Philippines. Thus, the Philippines has the exclusive right under international law to explore the West Philippine Sea for possible energy resources and, eventually, to utilize such resources for the benefit of the Filipino people. No other country has the right to explore and exploit the resources of the West Philippine Sea.