March 30, 2006
ERASING POVERTY NOT A UTOPIAN DREAM, GOV'T SHOULD CREATE POLICIES TO SOLVE IT
Independent think-tank IBON said Filipinos should not be surprised at the growing extent of poverty in the country, given the inadequacy of leaders tasked to address it.
Lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan confuses the issue of poverty by placing responsibility purely on an individual level rather than a social one.
"Government should stop viewing poverty as merely the inability of individuals to meet basic needs, and start doing its responsibility of ensuring everyone access to a comfortable and decent life," said IBON executive director Rosario Guzman.
But she said this is unlikely under flawed economic policies that follow the neoliberal framework and corporate interests.
Guzman added that with political will, government can easily implement measures that can bring immediate relief to poor Filipinos, such as imposing price controls on oil prices and basic goods and services,and granting workers' demands for a decent wage increase.
Guzman also scored Trade Secretary Peter Favila for saying that there is no job crisis in the country and that Filipinos are only choosy.
"There is a job crisis as a result of the economic crisis. Worse, government has no policies that will create jobs," said Guzman, adding, "Filipinos are not choosy; there are just no choices." She cited the increasing forced labor migration as an indicator of joblessness in the country.
Solving the root causes of poverty requires addressing the deeper systemic problems of the country's economy, such as foreign domination over the economy, weak industrial sector, widespread landlessness, among others. "It also means pursuing policies that ensure the country's self-reliance rather than export-oriented, import-dependent policies that leave us at the mercy of other countries' economic downturns," she said.
Pursuing policies such as these are the only way government can ever make a dent in the poverty problem. (end)