Poorer and poorer

THE latest survey done by the Social Weather Stations revealed that more Filipinos, especially those living in Mindanao, consider themselves poor.

That’s some 9.4 million households, or 50 percent of Filipino families, according to the second quarter of 2010 survey done by the SWS.

The figure is about 1.3 million more than those who rated themselves poor three months earlier.

That’s a lot of poor people that the new administration plans to feed.

Well, the proportion of families rating their food as poor also went to 38 percent, or an estimated 7.2 million households, seven points above the record-low 31 percent in the previous quarter.

And the survey noted that in June 2010, both poverty and food-poverty thresholds continue to be sluggish despite considerable inflation, indicating falling living standards.

In Mindanao, “self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty” rose after reaching record-lows in the previous quarter.

The SWS survey offered a lot of figures showing that, indeed, many believe they really are poor or are really getting poorer as the days pass.

But who’s not complaining?

A lot of us are feeling the pain of poverty, making us to wonder out loud whether the election of Noynoy, who said “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap” was the right choice.

If there’s a lot of poverty around, then there must be a lot of corruption too. That’s the logic, isn’t it?

The government discovered some stop-gap measures to address the issue. It’s not so original though because the new administration only continued to implement what the much-hated, but maybe wiser, Arroyo did during her nine-year term.

The Aquino administration decided to continue Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” and gives out up to 1,400 pesos a month to poor Filipino families, primarily those with kids and pregnant women.

The ambitious program is supposed to benefit four million people in the next two years.

Wow, that’s a lot. But wait. Some sisters in Mindanao are saying it’s not right. The government’s P30-billion cash assistance program is “anti-poor,” they said.

“While helping the millions of poor is a priority, the government’s idea of giving dole-outs will not be enough to alleviate (poor people) from poverty,” said Sister Elsa Compuesto of the Missionary Sisters of Mary.

She said the program only gives temporary relief and does not cater to uplift the poor from poverty. She said the government “can do better by seeking long-lasting solutions to poverty, such as agrarian reform and jobs creation.”

How can this nun go wrong?

“There is much more to be done than mouthing these words. Change must come when there is social justice for the poor,” the nuns said in their statement.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, yes the one with some color on her hair, defended the program, saying it is not a dole-out “because it sets conditions on beneficiaries to ensure their education and health.”

But the sister said: “The poor should not be treated like beggars.”

And for President Aquino, the good sister has this to say: “There is much more to be done than mouthing these (I supposed promises like change, among others) words. Change must come when there is social justice for the poor.”

Amen, sister, amen!

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