Poverty as a designed reality

Lofty and ambitious- these are two words that describe Pres Bongbong Marcos' goal to bring down poverty rate to 9% by 2028 as the current administration is set to unveil the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 by December 2022. This is considering that the poverty rate at end 2021 was 18.1% based on figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) or double the 2028 target.

Another poverty indicator reveals a much worse situation. Based on a Social Weather Stations survey conducted from Sept 29 to October 2, 2022, about 49% of Filipino families rated themselves as "poor."

The poverty experience is attributable to many factors- the COVID19 pandemic, the impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine, looming global recession, among many others. Hence, blaming government solely for the increase in poverty incidence during this period would be grossly unfair.

Multi-lateral organizations and government have drafted action plans and solutions to reduce poverty. Poverty reduction plans are closely tied up to other sectors such as education, health, housing, access to water, among others. Hence, solving the poverty puzzle is not easy as it sounds.

So how do we solve poverty then? In reality, there is no one size fits all solution to it. The context of poverty in each country and/or continent for that matter is unique and different. Multi-lateral organizations must realize that local knowledge is crucial in the fight against global poverty. Moreover, governments must implement medium to long term plans consistently and without political bias.

Perhaps, the first step in solving poverty is having policy and programmatic consistency. One of the poverties that our government must solve is the poverty of no long-term continuity and consistency. One of the essential features of our poverty strategy is to ensure the welfare of the poor, depressed, oppressed, marginalized members of society. Add to that the many Filipinos are more demanding of governmental services than perhaps any other nationality in this side of the world. At a certain point, our government will have to define if we are a welfare state and if we can afford to be a welfare state.

Often, most of our politicians are also afraid to speak of the truth when it comes to poverty. Sometimes, I feel poverty is designed to keep some blocs in political power. Poverty is often created to perpetuate the presence of certain individuals or groups in power. Moreover, influential groups capitalize on poverty for their personal gain or interest.

Poverty is a hard topic to discuss because it cuts through sectors, groups, and countries. It is easy to talk about it, but it is so difficult to offer genuine solutions on poverty.

Poverty is a universal reality that we will have to live with as long as there are individuals breathing and living on this earth. 

So, when a politician tells you he/she will end poverty, he is lying between his/her teeth.


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