DSWD’s search for poorest of the poor, mind-boggling, says leftist group
“Mind boggling to the highest order.”
This is how the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) described the latest move of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in which the agency will conduct a nationwide household assessment to identify the country’s poorest of the poor.
“President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral are treating the problem of widespread poverty in the country in a very trivial, escapist and traditional charity work manner,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.
Secretary Cabral yesterday said the DSWD will embark on a nationwide assessment to determine the country’s poorest of the poor to guide the social and welfare department in its implementation of the P 1-billion National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTSPR).
According to Cabral, the purpose of the program is to identify who and where are the poorest families in the country. The P 1-billion NHTSPR project will come from the P 10.5 billion budget for 2009 which Congress approved this year.
“DSWD is announcing a nationwide search is on for the poorest families in the Philippines in a way beauty contests and game shows are conducted. Please give us a break,” added Hicap.
Earlier, Pamalakaya raised suspicion that the P 10-billion fund support for government pro-poor programs would end up as campaign kitty for the Arroyo administration bets in 2010. The militant group said Arroyo’s favored bets in 2010 national elections would be given the opportunity to play key roles in dispensing the funds that will give for their immediate exposure to millions of poor voters.
“In a way, this P 10-billion poverty reduction program of DSWD is part of the early muscle flexing for pro-Arroyo politicians expected to run in the 2010 general elections,” the group added. Last month, Malacañang announced that the government will allocate an additional P 5-billion for the government’s pro-poor subsidy to the P 5-billion poverty reduction fund for 2009.
Under the program, a household that has three children will receive a grant of P 1,400 per month, P 500 for health and P 300 each for 10 months for each child in school, daycare or high school or up to a maximum of three children.
Citing the 2008 last quarter survey of the Social Weather Station (SWS), Pamalakaya said 52 percent of the Filipino families rated themselves as poor, while four out of ten families said they were “food poor”, an indication that poverty across the country is getting worse each day.
The same SWS survey said about 9.4 million families or 52 percent of the Filipino families considered themselves poor, 24 percent said they were not poor and 24 percent put themselves on the borderline.
“The poverty rate across the archipelago is expected to rise to higher and unprecedented level as unemployment reaches between 11 million to 12 million this year,” said Pamalakaya.
Citing the 2009 fearless forecast issued by independent think tank Ibon Foundation, the Pamalakaya leader said the rank of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos is expected to swell between 11 million to 12 million this year due to the economic slowdown as a result of the worldwide financial turmoil.
Hicap said the government was only good in “doctoring labor statistics” to show to the Filipino public and the international community that President Arroyo was a good economist and she was outstanding in job creation department.
According to government data only 2.6 million Filipinos or 6.8 percent of the country’s total labor force are unemployed based on October 2008 employment figures. But Ibon study said between 2008 and 2009, scores of retrenchment and closures will take effect immediately affecting the goods and service export sectors.
According to Ibon study, the job situation in the country started to worsen in 2008, with 279,000 Filipino workers lost their jobs due to economic and financial crisis. The same study showed that the most important manufacturing sector lost 150,000 jobs last year, the transport, storage and communication sector lost 10,000 jobs and financial intermediation lost 4,000 jobs also last year.
Ibon study further revealed that around 500,000 to 600,000 jobs courtesy of the country’s export oriented electronics subsector will be affected by the ongoing economic depression in the United States. Also to be affected by the current financial crunch in the US are the apparel and clothing and furniture and woodcraft industries in the country which account 60 percent of the country’s exports to US. #