“Poverty is the root cause of many Filipino families’ suffering,” Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo declared minutes before she spearheaded the formal opening of the “Angat Buhay” (Lifting Lives] program of the Office of the President on Monday.
Robredo explained before a huge crowd from various non-government organizations and civic groups and more than 50 officials and representatives of local government units that “[p]overty is a larger war that needs our focus and attention [because it]claims lives of pregnant women who do not have access to proper health care.”
“It causes irreversible stunting in the first 1,000 days of children, forcing them to suffer for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Poverty, according to the Vice President, undermines millions of children’s capacity to absorb knowledge and skills that are crucial for gainful employment and livelihood; pushes the poor people, both young and old, to involve themselves in illegal drugs and subsequently commit all forms of crimes; and disempowers and erodes the dignity of the majority of Filipinos, especially in remote rural areas and congested urban informal settlements.
At the same time, Robredo said, women are disenfranchised by poverty.
Small farmers, fisherfolk and laborers who produce the country’s food are ironically the ones who are hungry and lack proper nutrition, she noted.
Poor people do not earn enough to meet their families’ basic needs, Robredo said.
She admitted that the government has not solved poverty when “[w]e all live at a time and age that has made obsolete what used to be impossible.”
The government has not also solved poverty despite “talk of travel to Mars, self-driving cars and drones that can deliver food or medicine or textbook for your child even if you live in the mountains or far away from the city,” Robredo said.
“Each day of extreme hunger steals a slice of our people’s future. Each day of hopelessness kills our people just as surely as bullets do,” she added.
“As a nation, we cannot be defined by what we are unable to do. Our potential tells more about us than our past inadequacies,” the Vice President said.