“Poverty incidence remains high especially in the countryside. About two of every three poor Filipinos are in the rural areas and largely dependent on agricultural income and employment. Underemployment in agriculture is persistent problem. It is therefore imperative for our newly elected leaders to intensify pursuit of agricultural modernization. It is key to achieving food, security, job creation, balanced rural – urban development. And most importantly, eradication of widespread poverty”. (Atty. Joey D. Lina, “Fighting poverty”, Manila Bulletin, July 11, 2019).
Clearly, the major battlefield in our war against poverty which breeds insurgency is in our rural areas. Filipino farmers, fisher folks and forest-dwellers are the poorest of Filipino poor. Hence, Rural Development should now be the focus not only of our government but also of our private sector to alleviate poverty in our country.
This means that more attention, efforts and resources must be channeled to our countryside for education, health, other social services, rural infrastructure, rural industrialization, environmental protection, conservation and rehabilitation, livelihood programs and projects, eco-tourism, poultry and livestock development, micro-lending, cooperative development, peace and order, etc. Of course, more serious efforts to fight corruption in the government must be undertaken to avail of more government funds for rural development.
Average rural family of five needs P15,000.00 monthly income to stay above poverty level according to SWS (Social Weather Station). This is a more realistic estimate.
Ben O. de Vera of Philippine Daily Inquirer, last July 8, 2019, reported that about” P11-T public investment program seen to cure poverty incidence PH”. Per newsitem, NEDA Chief Sec.Ernesto M. Pernia stated that a “total investment requirement under the Public Investment Program (PIP) 2017 – 2022, more than two – thirds or P7.36 trillion would be spent on infrastructure development” other programs and projects broken down into P1.95 trillion for social and culture, P852.75 billion agriculture and environment; P466.3 billion for governance, justice, macro economic policy and national competition policy: P754.37 billion for peace and security; P102.15 billion for services and innovation. We do hope that more expenditure on infrastructure development will occur in our countryside where poverty is widespread rather than in our urban centers.
During its six years in office, the Duterte administration aims to “ultimately lift 440,000 people out of poverty by 2022” according to de Vera’s report.
However, beware of development aggression in our rural communities such as open pit mining, development invasion of our Indigenous people’s ancestral domains that threaten their way of living, rampant illegal logging that destroy our biodiversity, illegal and over fishing that deplete our marine resources and other destructure ventures done in the name of rural development and poverty alleviation but in reality do otherwise with the connivance of many corrupt government officials. Over concentration of governmental powers in the national government corrupt absolutely.
For long-range solution to dismantle our culture of corruption and address our dehumanizing widespread poverty is for our sick society to undergo real Social Transformation. This involves: 1) System or Structural Reform through our “Be a New Filipino” Program. Is the Duterte administration up to this radical “political surgery” to heal our terribly sick Philippine Society? It remains to be seen. With his very good trust rating and unquestionable political will. Pres. Duterte he should go for broke on this issue. This is a golden opportunity for greatness for Pres. Duterte that he should not miss.
Why is a rich and beautiful country like the Philippines languishing in poverty and disorder? It is simply because of our country’s exclusive political and economic systems being perpetuated by Filipino imperialists composed of our oligarchs, unconscionable elite, greedy big business people, very corrupt traditional politicians and their cohorts. Now, during the term of Pres. Duterte, radical political surgery must be pursued with the support of our military, the protector of our people, and Filipinos boldly exercising “direct democracy” to heal our sick Philippine society.
As one foreign expert rightly observed.” The administration has to provide much better competences and share more substantial budget from the central government to the local and regional government units along the principle of subsidiarity, thus setting free the dynamic forces of the masses fighting to improve their lives and bring real democracy to the country.”