TRULY caring for the poor is more than giving them alms, providing them “lugaw” for breakfast or dinner, or even allowing them to occupy an idled housing project.
We have a long-held adage that says, “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
In my almost daily commute, I often come across children of school age distributing small envelopes to passengers as they sing or ask for coins, or old men waving death certificates and what appears like a bill from a funeral parlor, asking for money to pay for the burial of a relative.
They have sad stories to tell, but I don’t fall for the modus. I don’t give even a cent because I don’t want them to think that begging is a legitimate source of livelihood. When I have biscuits or candies in my bag, then I give some to the children who look pitiful in their dirty clothes. I just don’t give them money.
I believe it is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something for themselves than to provide them something on a continuing basis.
Look at what hundreds of informal settlers belonging to the Kalipunan ng DamayangMaralita (Kadamay) did in Pandi, Bulacan. After occupying without authorization the vacant housing units in a government project intended for soldiers and policemen, they complained that the space was too tight, and then they demand that government provide them with basic utilities like electricity and water.
The situation is not unlike giving someone your hand and they want to take your whole arm. They want the complete package!
This puts to the test the politicians’ promises of caring for the poor, giving them a better life. The informal settlers feel entitled to shelter, livelihood, and other government services.
And where will government get the money to provide for their needs? The taxpayers. That is why government is trying to squeeze as much as it can from the captive taxpayers, the fixed income earners whose income tax payments are automatically deducted from their pay.
The government needs more money to provide assistance to the poor. Nothing wrong with that, but government should exert as much, if not more, effort to go after the high-earners who do not declare their correct incomes and conceal their profits so they would pay only a minuscule amount in taxes.
I was just thinking that if this government is genuinely concerned for the poor, why doesn’t it exert enough pressure on individuals and companies to pay the right amount of taxes by making sure that evaders are charged and convicted, not simply shamed, and onlyy when they’re not among the supporters of the incumbent powerholders. And then later, everything is forgotten, maybe after some compromise deal is made.
Government should take care of employees whose income tax payments comprise one-third of their incomes and punish irresponsible employers who don’t remit the employees’ tax payments and other mandatory deductions like premiums to the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and Pag-IBIG, leaving the poor employees begging for help during emergency situations.
If the government is really concerned for the poor, it should strictly monitor prices of basic consumer goods to ensure that low-income earners can afford to have three square meals a day.
While the government spends so much money for its anti-drug campaign, it should also provide funds for the hiring of price monitors to make sure that the poor don’t turn to cheap addictive solvents to forget how hungry they are.
The government can show that it really cares for the poor by making life less difficult for those from whom it exacts more money in the form of taxes, than merely paying lip service by allowing informal settlers to occupy a housing project intended for soldiers and policemen, many of whom have families living in squalid conditions.
Caring for the poor is doing something to uplift their living standards instead of creating more poor people by making life more difficult for the fixed-income earners who become the captive or targets of new or additional tax burdens.