Billions for APEC propaganda but a pittance for suffering Filipinos

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There’s something very wrong when the Aquino government thinks nothing of throwing away P10-billion (or US$212-million) for its year-long hosting of various events of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), including the summit this week, yet scrimps on much-needed aid for starving and suffering Filipinos.

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More than a month after typhoon Lando devastated large swaths of Luzon, for instance, thousands of victims have yet to receive government aid. In Nueva Ecija alone, known as the “food bowl” of Central Luzon, at least P3.5 billion worth of crops were damaged, leaving many farmers without any source of livelihood.

Although there is still some P9.6 billion left over from the government’s P13 billion calamity fund for 2015, the Aquino administration has been too slow in releasing funds to help our farmers and other typhoon victims.

It’s no different 1,000 kilometers to the south.

Sad plight of 130,000 families in Tacloban

More than two years after typhoon Yolanda turned the once-thriving city of Tacloban in Leyte into a wasteland, only 1,128 houses, or less than 10 percent of the target of 16,331 permanent houses for typhoon victims, have been constructed. There are still more than 130,000 families living in makeshift quarters or bunkhouses, waiting for livelihood assistance.

Kabataan partylist representative Terry Ridon attributes the snail-paced rehabilitation of Tacloban to the slow release of government funds, citing the recent COA report which criticized DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman for releasing only 33 percent of the P1.15-billion cash donations to Yolanda victims, with the bulk kept in DSWD’s bank accounts.

It’s obvious, however, that for PNoy, the APEC is more important than the millions of impoverished Filipinos. He spent a good part of last Tuesday going around Metro Manila to personally inspect NAIA and the APEC summit venues but he won’t spare a few hours to commiserate with the victims of typhoon Yolanda on the second anniversary of the disaster.

He’d also much rather attend the wedding of a real estate magnate’s son than “gatecrash” the commemoration rites in Tacloban, because he was not invited, or so Malacañang says.

Of course, most Filipinos know that’s pure B.S. because Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez sent the invite via email to Malacañang a full week before the event. A copy of that email is now doing the rounds on social media.

PNoy is pulling out all the stops for the APEC because it’s his coming-out party. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to burnish his image on the world stage and brag about the country’s so-called transformation during his term – which Liberal Party (LP) vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo gushingly described as the “Golden Age” of Philippine governance. In short, the summit is the perfect forum for PNoy to disseminate his “daang matuwid” propaganda to a wider international audience.

It is propaganda because the Aquino administration is trying to paint a distorted and exaggerated picture of the country’s economic growth. We find it quite ironic that while the theme chosen by the Aquino administration for this year’s APEC summit in Manila is “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” the country’s so-called economic growth has been anything but inclusive.

Hunger rates have remained practically unchanged during the past decade or so. In fact, the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showed that hunger rates worsened in the third quarter of this year to 15.7 percent, with the number of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger rising to 3.5 million, the highest since December 2014’s 17.2 percent.

Based on SWS data, the last time hunger rates fell to a single-digit level (7.4 percent) was in March 2004 during the Arroyo administration. It was also during the Arroyo administration that the total hunger rates fell to its lowest level in the past 17 years at 5.1 percent.

The recent hunger survey result is not entirely unexpected, especially with another SWS survey released last Monday, which showed that the number of unemployed Filipinos swelled to more than 10 million during the third quarter of 2015.

According to SWS, unemployment has been rising since the first quarter of 2015. In March, the jobless rate was at 19.1 percent, rising to 23.7 percent in June and 23.7 percent in September. SWS disclosed that since 2010, joblessness in the Philippines has constantly remained above 20 percent – except in March 2015 when it fell to 19.1 percent – peaking at 24.4 percent in March 2012.

However PNoy embellishes his achievements, what is certain is that foreign investors are not blind to the realities on the ground.

Despite PNoy’s touted reforms, the country dropped six notches to 103rd place in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report. The foreign investors who PNoy said were “lining up” to set up or expand their businesses in the country four years ago seem to have disappeared into thin air. In fact, our foreign direct investments (FDI) inflow fell 42 percent to $1.64-billion in the first five months of this year.

In contrast, Vietnam has so far received a record $9.65-billion in actual FDI this year, with strong inflows going to the manufacturing sector – the fulcrum of job generation. How were they able to do it? By being investor-friendly not just in words but also in deed. That, to our mind, is the best propaganda.

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17 Comments

  1. These billions of pesos are mainly funded by other countries, not the Philippine administration. But, some do suffer because of the traffic and the airline schedules. Just remember, the Philippines has the worst road system in the world due to poor planning. Just an opinion but mostly based on facts.

  2. Pnoy provided DATA.
    Under him Government expediture grow from 1,2Billion pesos to over 3billion pesos in 2015 within just 5 years.
    30% of 4P program expenditure is from overseas loan to help 4,6 million families.
    Stop smearing because even foreign journalists called PNOY, “teflon” because mud from smears and malicious propaganda since 2012 simply could NOT stick.
    PH need 12 more years of “straight path”
    P Mar and VPL leni from 2016. & P Leni from 2022.

  3. P10B for a dog and pony show, with cancelled flights and road closure, billions of money lost on companies and no way to be recovered. See the stupidity, we are encouraging business to be established in our country but how could you conduct business with a lot of holidays, custom and airport roads are closed. This is not the way our country should be doing, we should be doing it the right way where we could released from the port/customs the imported goods, equipment and materials to process and produced as finished product to sold locally or for export. Check your local grocery store and you will noticed that only few items are produced locally and most are imported. Time will come that everything being sold in this country are all imported and no way we could be recover economically.

  4. This is what exactly Bongbong Marcos was talking about. If the government can spend 10 Billion Pesos for a single event, why can’t the government make the education free to all State Universities so that we can rid the out-of-school youths and produce educated youth? Mirriam Santiago has an answer to that of course, because if the people are educated, then, who would vote for the likes of PNoy?

  5. You ‘”Anay” of our nation, A termites in your own Class. You dont want phillipines to be progressive..What do you want? Holding an event, without, spending a money, for security, etc of our visitors? If you have a visitors in your house, will you let your house,is very dirty conditions? So the respects of visitors and one of them is your boss will surely be gone, and you will be treated like a shit, including your family ..And you want those 10 billion pesos, be given to feed the poor, and then what? Hiw you can get a good investors if you will not show the cleanliness of your nation,(even at that moment)..If Aquino, will not spend on this APEC, again you will tell something bad ,.. Mga ‘ANAY” nga kayo ..Palibhasa pala Asa kayo sa Gobyerno,,,magsumikap kayo! hindi yung maging propagnadist kayo! Kumita naman ang mga hotels , resto , etc, at sa atin din iikot ang perang ginastos ng mga visitors..at world wide promotion pa sa bansa natin eto..Isip isip din kayo..Di na nga nagpagawa ng panibagon convention center at ginamit alang ang existing buildings na meron tayo …magkaron kayo ng constructive criticism, hindi nganga lang ang comment ninyo..

  6. Why would I believe you when all our local and international business says it’s good to join APEC and be a leader. Some country would bride to hold the APEC in their country. Anyone who is against PH hosting the APEC is short sighted, lack knowledge and wanted the Filipinos to suffer more. Let’s stop the negativism and for once Filipinos should think positive.
    Anyone who says APEC is bad for our country is shame on YOU!!!

    • Look around you Mr. JRT and Mr. Mike can’t you see what’s happening here, millions of our countrymen are suffering, jobless and hungry especially children who are sick and malnourished, yet you did not care, approving instead, giving your loyalty to this oligarch prince of darkness even though he committed injustices and wrong doings to his already oppressed people. You better change your prescription glasses if you are wearing one or you just don’t want to set your vision of reality. For crissake can’t you see this evil one is destroying supposed to be beautiful and rich country? Didn’t you realize this sonafabitch is full of lies, deceit, braggadocio, etc. What’s more this imbecile of a man is inept, incompetent, unsympathetic in every way. Such character is terrorizing his own people indirectly. These are symptoms of psychosis or mental disease which I’m sure he is suffering long before he entered politics. Never again will we elect this kind of a leader like his anointed one and clone Mar Roxas. Never again. God help us all.

  7. What compassion can starving Filipinos expect from an oligarch President like BS Aquino who never experienced getting hungry? Look how he got 6,000 Lumads driven out of their lands by the Philippine Army and its paramilitary in Surigao del Sur. These people had been terrorized with 4 of them murdered so the mining companies can take over their lands and up to this day, their killers are still free.

    The victims and their families who were killed during the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre are still crying for justice. P180 billion had been budgeted for housing of Yolanda survivors, yet 150,000 survivors still live in tents with no water, electricity or sanitation.

  8. They talk about inclusive growth after protecting and cold long cargoes and favoring the top few with government policies. Yet they make it harder for the S M E’s to function by adding more nonsense government policies … They have disrupted the lives of millions to showcase a plastic economy that has only widened the gap between rich and poor and abandoned the needy… Double talk is common …. The people are sick and tired of the crooked straight path that leads to poverty and suffering… You cannot fool our guests …. They must but be diplomatic but not stupid

  9. A shameless administration that should be jailed … Full of pomp and revelry …… With no purpose or significance in making better the lives of its citizens … A hallow useless leader who brings more damage than progress…. The emperor’s new clothes is a fitting analogy

  10. Claro Apolinar on

    Very very true and very very sad for us Filipinos to have such an uncarinbg government and an insensitive president!

  11. Venerando Desales on

    It is so basic in political thought that the common weal should be the standard in formulating policies by governments and their trustees. When policies favor only those that belong to social class A and neglecting those who belong to social classes C, D, and E, yet placating them with pantawid doleouts and pocketing most, then expect for a time bomb. Our middle class should assert leadership and maintain the balance. It is sad and alarming that even our middle class is dwindling. Most of which belong now to classes C and D.

    • I pray say why? Do you, in your most competent thought really feel that there is anything this administration worth commending? If you don’t know the feeling of having an empty stomach while trying to eke out a living and praying to survive the day, then, sir, you are blest. But don’t tag someone as a sourgrape when he commiserates with people who are starving despite doing their darndest best.

  12. Indifferent government who do as little as possible, Incompetent and corrupt, Rolling out a presidential spokesperson once in a while to claim super human efforts only works on the locals.
    People in other countries are impressed by results not endless and empty promises.