By Bernadette E. Tamayo | People's Journal
SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has reminded the Aquino administration that national progress is best gauged by the improvement of the lives of the Filipinos.
He stressed this point after the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported that 27.9 percent of the population, or 28 out of 100 Filipinos, lived below poverty line in the first half of 2012, although the Philippine economy grew 6.6 percent in the same year.
Marcos, however, said that he does not question the 2012 growth figures. “My point is that the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) findings that poverty (situation) has in fact not improved, has been something that I had suspected from going around the country and talking to people and looking at their condition,” he said.
He said that the poverty level as measured by NCSB, an attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority, “should serve as a wake-up call” for the government to implement an honest to goodness poverty alleviation programs like public investment in basic infrastructure, transportation, and other pump-priming infrastructures.
“The problem is the same during the GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) administration when the growth rate of the economy was strong, the beneficiaries of that growth were only large corporations and rich investors, not ordinary Filipino citizens,” Marcos said.
He lamented that the “miserable state of poverty” in the country is caused by the inequitable distribution of wealth, which was also the situation during the Arroyo administration.
“The problem (during GMA) was inequitable distribution of wealth and that is the same problem that we have now. We see that there is strong growth but there is terrible distribution of wealth, hence the continuing poverty rate,” Marcos said.
Senatorial candidate JV Ejercito said that the NSCB report which indicated that poverty incidence in the country has remained the same in the past six years “should prod the government to buckle down to work.”
“The Aquino administration can start by investing heavily in quality education and make it accessible to all. The government should also work with various economic sectors to address job mismatches and focus on the development of the manufacturing sector to increase jobs,” Ejercito said.
“Despite the so-called economic gains it has supposedly chalked up, these have failed to lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty. The lack of productive jobs caused by the government’s failure to implement the necessary economic reforms is one of the major reasons why many have remained mired in poverty. Implementing stop-gap measures such as the conditional cash transfer program will not resolve the social and economic ills that plague the Philippines,” he said.