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Fixing Poverty in the Philippines: Mission Impossible Essay

The Philippines has the second highest poverty incidence at 40%, in Southeast Asia, following East Timor which has 55% (Aldaba, 2005). Also according to Aldaba (2005), poverty in the Philippines has always been a rare rural occurrence, in spite of the fact that the poverty in urban areas is also increasing. More than two-thirds of the poor families in the Philippines live in rural areas. The Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) states, based on legitimate poverty lines, that poverty incidence in the Philippines has dropped from 49.3% in 1985 to 36.8% in 1997, a downfall of a total of 12.5 percentage points in 12 years. On the other hand, poverty incidence increased by 3.2 percent from 36.8 percent in 1997 to 40.0 in 2000 (Aldaba, 2005). According to the article written by Ted Torres (2013) in The Philippine star, the percentage of Filipinos living below the poverty line has remained almost unaltered in the past six years. The statement was based on the latest poverty data released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). For the first half of 2012, the poverty incidence recorded was 27.9 which is slightly less than the 28.8 percent recorded in the first half of 2006, and 28.6 percent in the first half of 2009 and 2011.

The NSCB report on the 2012 first semester state of poverty in the Philippines presented that a family with five members can be considered extremely poor if it is earning an amount of P5, 458 a month or just enough to place some food on the table. The same family has to earn at least P7, 821 a month to satisfy other primary needs such as clothing. Discussion and knowledge about the high poverty incidence that is dominating the country is very significant. It should be shown to the Filipinos especially to the people who are considered living a first-class life. Because of too much poverty that governs the country, it can be concluded that poverty in the Philippines cannot be helped anymore. One main reason behind the high poverty incidence in the Philippines is because of the high population growth. De Dios (1993) stated that high population growth affects poor households through a smaller distribution of incomes among them. The Philippines has recorded one of the highest population growth rates in Southeast Asia, at 2.6 percent from 1960 to 1994; this rate is higher than Indonesia and Singapore at 2.1 percent and Thailand as 2.3 percent (De Dios, as cited in Aldaba, 2005). De Guzman (1994) notes that crude birth dates has been declining since 1975, but this downfall has been slow, at 35.3 percent in 1973 to 32.8 percent in 1983. De Guzman also noted that contraceptive prevalence is quite low (30%-40%), and an increasing apportionment of females are getting married – factors which may weaken the decline. High population growth can be pulled down by consistent use of right family planning. Different government departments are actually conducting talks, meetings, and seminars about Family Planning. These departments are inviting parents and married couples from different parts of the country to attend the seminars to hear and be open to the use of family planning. But this advocacy seems to be impossible because there are too many undisciplined Filipinos who cannot be controlled by the government. Those undisciplined Filipinos are not open to any advice or suggestions from the hierarchy to improve their way of living. Another huge reason for the high population growth in the Philippines is the government system.

According to the former Philippines senator, Mr. Francis Pangilinan (n.d.), the government people have heard never ending complaints about how the government has become a stumbling block for progress in the Philippines. Because of corruption and inefficiency, as well as lack of vision and direction, the government has become impediment to reforms and authentic and real change when it ought to be in the forefront of making change happen. It is enough to say that the old methods of governance have not worked and the usual and old style of electing political leaders characterized by patronage and money politics has failed the disappointed the people. The old ways of selecting leaders, the old ways of electing politicians have not resulted in a better nation. The truth is the country is in a mess because of the failure of the government to lead the country (Pangilinan, n.d). But on the other hand, maybe, the “Tuwid na Daan” of the [NoyNoy] Aquino Administration can pull this country up from its flat and dull position. This advocacy, consisting of many programs that can help improve the Philippines and its people, can be the sight solution to poverty. But, according to Pangilinan (n.d), there is still a great problem that holds the government from its right leadership – the corruption. Corruption, waste and inefficiency prosper within many situations and yet the government, despite a few valorous attempts to break this cycle, has largely failed to change the character of the bureaucracy (Stiftung, 1989). Ubiquitous corruption will not end unless the Philippine government punish more and punish swiftly and that cannot be done unless the country modernize its Judiciary and supply it with the necessary resources to do so. Too many politicians denounce corruption yet apart from exposes, they have not presented definite steps to address it (Pangilinan, n.d). One way to modernize the Judiciary system is to increase conviction rates. According to Pangilinan (n.d), the conviction rate of the Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan (anti graft court) for corruption cases is held down at an estimate of less than 20 percent. For every 10 cases filed, less than two end up in conviction; the rest of the cases are the dismissed. No wonder and doubt that most of the people have no fear of committing corrupt acts. Imagine the situation when more than 8 out of 10 corruption cases get away. This can be sharply compared to the conviction rates in Hong Kong, which is pegged at 79 percent. Meaning, nearly 8 out of 10 are convicted. When more are punished and punished promptly, respect for the rule of law will return. It is certainty of punishment that inculcate fear and respect for the laws. It is the duty of the Judiciary system to ensure that the conviction rates are upped. It is also ideal to organized an anti corruption task force, at the highest levels, to monitor big cases and to ensure that government resources are equipped to ensure convictions within months from the time of its organization.

The proverbial big fish must not be allowed to get away (Pangilinan, n.d). Another way to modernize the Judiciary system is to double its budget. By upping the budget of the Judiciary, to say 2 percent of the 1.17 trillion national budget, we give rise to the prompt dispensation of justice, the creation of more courts, and expanding of the compensation and benefits of judges, prosecutors and court personnel (Pangilinan, n.d). Corruption cannot be ended. It may be lessened, but not totally ceased. It is because there will forever be government people who will be blinded by the power they got from their position and the huge amount of money they handle. It is a very risky and dangerous work to do corruption acts just for the sake of getting money, but that is the nature of the government people in the Philippines. One politician cannot end his or her term without even getting a single centavo from the money of the Philippine citizens. Another reason behind the high poverty incidence in the Philippines is the lack of jobs and employment. Too many Filipino citizens are still unemployed and most of them are having a hard time finding jobs. The private sector of the government is blamed for lack of jobs in the Philippines. According to Senator Ralph Recto (Recto, as cited in Cabacungan, 2013), “the job of the private sector is to create wealth and jobs.

Unfortunately, the private sector in the Philippines does not have a high degree or culture of giving and sharing.” Sen. Recto also added that, maybe, the administration is focusing too much on government, which accounts for only 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product when it should have its eyes on the 83 percent controlled by the private sector that is creating too many poor people. Recto and Salceda (Recto & Salceda, as cited in Cabacungan, 2013) said that the social inequality or injustice was the reason for the increase of unemployment to 7.5 percent or 3.086 million in April this year from 6.9 percent or 2.803 million in the same month in 2012 despite a record 7.8 percent growth in the economy in the first quarter of 2013. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) continuously creates programs to help the Filipinos find jobs. One way is the online website which encourages the unemployed people to submit resumes online. In the perspective of the employer, it is very easy to find an employee by just visiting the website made by DOLE. The employer can just type in there the position needed in the company and the search results will give the employer the list of the people who are capable of doing the said job. Regardless of the effort of the government to plant more jobs in the Philippines for the Filipinos to be successfully employed, there are still millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who risk their lives in other lands just to get a job and leap their family from poorness. There are mountains of reasons why great poverty is still colonizing the Philippines. Some can be helped but most of it cannot be solved anymore. No matter how the government strives to give jobs to the Filipinos, it will remain as a nonsense act if the Filipinos are not going to help themselves out of this poverty. It was stated by Mahatma Gandhi that poverty is the worst from of violence. It is really the worst and it cannot be helped anymore.

Reference List

Aldaba, F. (2005). The fight against poverty in SouthEast Asia NGO good practices in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Stiftung, F. (1989). Poverty and growth in the Philippines. Metro Manila, Philippines: FRESAN Printing. Torres, T. (2013, April 24). Poverty level in Phl unchanged since ’06. The Philippine Star. Retrieved August 10, 2013 at http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/04/24/934243/poverty-level-phl-unchanged-06 Cabacungan, Gil. (2013, June 12). Private sector blamed for lack of jobs. Inquirer News. Retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/425271/private-sector-blamed-for-lack-of-jobs Pangilinan, F. (n.d). 4 proposed solutions to help fix the Philippines. Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan: Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://kiko.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=505:4-proposed-solutions-to-he..

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