Breaking “Poverty Webs”
“Your friend died Saturday night ,” the beggar said. Now and then, the wife shared rice, medicine, blouses, a few pesos with this emaciated indigent, dressed in hand-me-downs “We didn’t even get her name”, she murmured.
Many of us do not see the poor. Yet, we bump into them at jeepney stops, churchyards or school gates. Some activists view them as bodies for“ibagsak” rallies. Other economists treat them as numbers. “They’re statistics with human tears wiped off..”
And they number about 27.6 million, Asian Development Bank estimates. Nearly 39 out of every 100 cluster in Mindanao, the country’s granary. “ Luzon has the highest number (2 million) of poor families.”
UN’s “Human Development Index” measures deprivation beyond the usual per capita income, e.g..US$1.25 per day “HDI’s factor in life expectancy, schooling, health. They track progress—or backsliding—in quality of life, within an international context.
The Philippines stood at HDI slot 105, out of .181 countries analyzed by UN Human Development Report . We’re wedged between El Salvador, at 106, and Alegria at 104. China is No. 92. Among Asean members, Singapore ranks number 25, Malaysia 66, and Indonesia 111.
The ADB book . “Poverty in the Philippines: Causes, Constraints and Opportunities: reports: “The income of the richest 10% of Filipino households was 19 times that of the poorest 10%. Thus Out of every peso, the `richest 10% can splurge almost 34 centavos, explains Philippine Human Development Report ,. Ar the cellar, the poorest 10% must get by on two and a half centavos
“Metro Manila finds itself between Lebanon and Peru,” PHDR adds.. “Benguet is roughly equivalent to that of Armenia while Cebu is equal to that of the Palestenian Territories. Davao, Abra and Bohol lie between Nicaragua and Uzbekistan.”
Penury interlocks with ill health and shabby education to truncate lives across generation within “poverty webs, “aasserts a UP School of Economics study, Life expectancy in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, for example, is short of 55 years — like that of Ethiopia in Africa. In :La Union, life spans now exceed 74 years —comparable to Slovakia, but short of Singapore’s 80. For Japanese, it’s almost 82.
“Life is the threshold at which all other hopes begin.” Infant mortality rates here dropped” from 60 percent in 1970 to about 29 today.. But far more can be done. Infant deaths are down to 17 in Sri Lanka. Also, too many women — approximately 162 out of every 100,000 births — still die during labor or shortly thereafter.: That translates to 11 deaths and 43 children orphaned daily, European Union points out.: .
Philippine agencies,. like National Statistical Coordination Board, and international bodies, like Unicef , foresee we will flub Millennium Development Goal No. 5.: to cut maternal death rates to 52. “Goal 5 is least likely to be achieved by 2015’, Australian AID says.
To break out of poverty, increasing numbers of people must be fed, housed adequately and provided health care. TB incidence among Norwegians, Swedes and Danes is below five for every 100,000. It is 540 for Filipinos and 179 for Thais. Undernourishment is zero in Nordic countries. It is 22 for every 100 Filipinos and seven in Burma. .“It’s not possible to satisfy hunger by painting rice cakes,” the Chinese say .
“Less than 20% of households with four members or less are poor. But that bolts to 40% when the household size is six or more. The country’s rapid population growth becomes obvious when the kids troop to school. About 34 of every 100 Filipinos kid s drop out before sixth grade. In the Autonomous Region of Muslim Minadanao,, only one out of 10 completes high school.
In contrast, Indonesia and Malaysia had higher primary enrolment – and completion — rates than the Philippines. “The next generation may well attain the same level of educational level …“Poverty is often passed from one generation to another.”
To shatter web shackles, the Aquino administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer program rose from P1-billion in 2009 to P21 billion this year. This requires recipient 3 million families to ensure children attend school. Basic education budget had risen to P278 billion. And P12 billion will expand the national health insurance program. The majority in Congress is likely to defend these initiatives, while providing P22.1 billion counterpart funds for private-public partnership projects.
A plus factor is today’s curb on corruption. Even the most rabid critics concede that President Benigno Aquino III, like his mother Corazon, has not been tarred by the corruption brush. . Contrast that with just the last years of the Mapacagal-Arroyo regime The Jha-Mehta study for ADB of the rice subsidy found “a gap of 64% between National Food Authority supply and consumption…( This extent ) of the pilferage, damage in storage and /or loss in transit. Remember the P1.03 billion chit for coffee by Pagcor? That doesn’t include Mike Arroyo’s overpriced helicopters.
“Three basic decisions underpin Nordic countries success in achieving high human development,” explains Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “First, it prioritized education, study and science. Second, it decided it would leave no countryman behind . Social insurance-pensions, health care, education-became a shared commitment. And third, it built a vigorous private sector.”
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By: Juan Mercado
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