Fight vs poverty

August 27, 2019

EVERYBODY concedes that the two-chamber Congress -- the 24-member Senate and the House of Representatives -- plays a crucial role in the battle against grinding poverty in the Philippines.

Note that many of the more than 108 million Filipinos still live below the “poverty line,” including the thousands of informal settlers squatting on government property and privately-owned lands.

Certainly, the quick growth of shanty communities not only in urban centers but elsewhere has spawned massive poverty, worrying concerned national and local government offices and agencies.

It is no wonder, therefore, that House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez is determined to marshal the votes needed to ensure the swift passage of the proposed 2020 national budget.

Next year’s P4.1-trillion national budget contains P108.8 billion and P166.5 billion allocated for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Universal Health Care program, respectively.

“We, in Congress, support the initiatives of the…administration to empower the poor through increased subsidies and grants aimed at ending the… cycle of poverty in the country,” said Romualdez.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Romeo Abu, on the other hand, said “we will not allow any budget delay because it will derail President Duterte’s poverty reduction efforts.”

Abu said the Lower Chamber of Congress under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will ensure that the government will be able to accelerate the implementation of its infrastructure projects.

Abu and Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon shared the view of Romualdez that there’s that urgent need to hasten the passage of the budget if we are to reduce the incidence of poverty.

Government authorities hope to reduce poverty incidence in this Southeast Asian nation to 14 percent by 2022, when Duterte’s six-year presidency, which started at 12 noon on June 30, 2016, ends.

Filipinos expect the Duterte administration to deliver on its avowed pro-poor agenda.