Poverty, low wages make people crave for lotto jackpot

The lotto jackpot may be huge by itself and may be drawing people from across classes to try their luck, but what really pushes people to troop to lotto centers are grinding poverty and extremely low wages, a newly-formed alliance said today.

“Yes, the current jackpot prize of P738 Million is big – but it appears even more gigantic to the majority of the Filipino workers and people whose wage and incomes are puny,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and co-convenor of the Koalisyon ng Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan.

KPMM was formed last November 19 by workers from both private and public sectors, as well as organizations of various sectors of society, to put pressure on the government for what it calls a “substantial” wage increase.

“The Filipino workers and people have been denied of any substantial wage increase for more than nine years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s rule. That is definitely a major reason many people want to win big in the lotto now – to also pay off debts acquired through the years,” Labog added.

KPMM cited a study made by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation saying that, based on 2000 prices, the current minimum wage of P404 in the National Capital Region is only equivalent to P242 – only P5 higher than the real value of the NCR minimum wage when Arroyo became president, which was P237.

Like taxation
“Because lotto payments go to the government, playing the lotto is therefore like paying taxes to the government – with the crucial difference that people are paying willingly and eagerly,” said Ferdie Gaite, chairperson of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or Courage, and co-convenor of the KPMM.

“Having been denied social services for education and health, the Filipino workers and people give willingly and eagerly to the government only with the hope of getting something big and fast as prize. That is not a criticism of the Filipino people; that is a criticism of the kind of government that we have now.

“The poor people’s scramble for the lotto jackpot is therefore an indictment of the poverty and extremely low wages in the country on the one hand, and the lack of social services being provided by the government and its taxation system on the other,” Gaite added. D’Jay Lazaro

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