Philippines a hungry tiger

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ejlopez

The Philippine Government enjoys high positive trust ratings as shown by surveys. The business sector expresses confidence in, and support for, the President and his administration. The accolades were never extended to past political leaderships.

The positive comments come not only from rating agencies but also from other nations, noting the Philippines’ good economic and political performance. But how do all that translate to the welfare of the people, who should rightfully reap the benefits?

According to a news report, “for the first time in history, the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) pierced the critical 7,000 level as investors expect more listed companies to report good first quarter earnings.”

It adds that “the local stock market main index closed at a new all-time high of 7,120.48 points, gaining 163.38 points or 2.4 percent. This level eclipsed the record close posted on April 19, 2013 at 6,957.10.”

As a result, it is expected that change in the economic phase of the nation should have been achieved because this kind of bullish mood plus the encouraging 6.6 GNP growth rate of the economy all fell into place. But looking at the sequence of events that has transpired lately, they run counter to what we ought to get in terms of benefits that should accrue from these positive recognitions.

High hunger incidence
Hunger incidence among Filipino families increased in the first quarter of the year, according to Social Weather Station (SWS). The survey, conducted from March 19 to 22, showed that 19.2 percent of the 1,200 adults polled experienced hunger during the first three months of the year. This is nearly a three-point rise from the 16.3 percent hunger incidence recorded in December 2012. What does all this tell us? That growth is confined to the already rich, without trickling down to the poor who needed it the most.

“The survey also showed that 15.6-percent of the respondents experienced moderate hunger in their families while 3.6 percent experienced severe hunger.” This is very alarming because 3.6 of the population translates roughly 1.9 million people. These many people went through the day without eating a decent meal. Mindanao had the highest hunger incidence as it rose from 26.3 percent to 29.2 percent. This hunger incidence in Mindanao may have been an after-effect of the continuous power shortage in the southern Philippines.

The study likewise revealed that the government needed to fine-tune its CCT program, to restructure it to prevent the cash dole outs from going to people other than the intended beneficiaries. The government should periodically revaluate the list of beneficiaries.

Self-rated food-poor increased from 25.8 percent to 33.1 percent. It also increased from 8.8 percent to 10.4 percent among those who claimed to be not so food-poor. These findings revealed that people who claimed they are not poor before are now admitting they are poor. People would normally not reveal how hard up they are out of shame or embarrassment. Only when individuals become so deprived that they swallow their pride, thus the increase in the number of self-rated poverty.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “If you take a look at the results of the survey quarter to quarter, we’ve seen that the results tend to be a little volatile, meaning it goes up, it goes down,”

Ms. Valte doesn’t know what she’s talking about, as far as the status of the hungry people is concerned. The fact is the number of hungry people is increasing rather than decreasing. And that’s because growth that we have been claiming all along does not benefit the the grassroots.

The government wants to attain a tiger or NIC status by year 2016. It is deluding itself. A minimal growth rate in the past three years cannot be a basis for a tiger or NIC status.

Unless, of course, by tiger we mean a hungry one.

(For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com with cc to: opinion@manilatimes.net).

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