Vice President Jejomar Binay lamented on Thursday the rising poverty incidence in the Eastern Visayas Region.
“Nakalulungkot na ang Eastern Visayas na ang pinakamahirap na rehiyon ayon sa pinakahuling [I am saddened that Eastern Visayas is the poorest region according to the latest] Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) ng Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA),” he said during his visit to Southern Leyte.
“Ayon sa APIS, ang poverty incidence dito sa Eastern Visayas ay umabot na sa 54.9 percent noong 2014, kumpara sa 45 percent noong 2012. Ibig sabihin nito, 2.25 milyong katao dito sa Eastern Visayas ang hindi sapat ang kinikita at ngayon ay nalulugmok sa kahirapan [According to Apis, the poverty incidence here in Eastern Visayas reached 54.9 percent in 2014, compared the 45 in 2012. This means that 2.25 million people here in Eastern Visayas are not earning enough and are now mired poverty],” he added.
Binay said the poverty incidence in the region rose in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda. Eastern Visayas was directly in the storm’s path and was the hardest hit region in the country.
“Nakalulungkot po at sa paglipas ng ilang taong pamamahala ng kasalukuyang administrasyon, lalong nalubog sa kahirapan ang marami nating kababayan [It is sad that after how many years under the present administration, our countrymen become more poor],” he said.
“Nakakabahala din dahil nariyan naman ang pera para tulungan ang ating mga kababayan ngunit hindi ito ginagastos nang lubusan. Kasi sa kasalukuyang administrasyon, may appropriation nga, pero hindi naman ginastos [It is a cause for concern that the funds are available to help our countrymen but these are not fully used. Because in the present administration, there is appropriation, but this is not being used],” he added.
Binay noted that there is a budget for the victims of Yolanda but only 27 percent of the funds have been used.
The Vice President said the coconut farmers were the most affected by the super typhoon, with 1.1 million farmers losing their source of income after Yolanda destroyed 33.82 million coconut trees.
As support, Binay said the government should teach farmers to harvest other highly value coconut products.
“Upang mas mabilis makabangon, kailangan natin ng paradigm shift sa mga produktong inaani mula sa niyog. Imbes na pulos copra lamang, kailangang tignan natin ang iba pang high value na mga produkto [To hasten recovery (from the devastation brought by the typhoon) a paradigm is need for coconut products. Instead of just producing copra, there is a need to look at developing other high value products],” he said.
Other coconut-based products should be promoted like coconut milk, which can be used in the feeding programs for students to prevent malnutrition.
Aside from coconut, the government should also look into the possibility of planting other high-value, export-quality crops.
“Kapag tayo ay naihalal na pangulo, isusulong din natin ang one town one product. Palalakasin natin ang ugnayan ng mga magsasaka at mga mamimili sa rehiyon sa tulong ng ASEAN integration. Magtatayo tayo ng tatak Pilipino na magdadala at magtataguyod ng ating high value crops, katulad ng kiwi sa New Zealand sa ilalim ng Zespri [If we are elected president, we will promote the one town one product concept. We will strengthen ties between farmers and consumers in the region with the help of the ASEAN integration],” he said.