SHE HAD neither bought a lotto ticket nor joined a TV game show. But Marissa felt like she won the jackpot anyway late last year, when her family was chosen as one of the recipients of the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program.
After all, it meant her family would be receiving P800 a month, and while that has since proved inadequate to sustain her brood of four, whatever cash she can lay her hands on is welcome, especially now that her husband, a returnee from suddenly protest-prone Saudi Arabia, has been jobless for the last two months.
BENIGNO Simeon ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III became the Philippines’ 15th president on June 30, 2010 or exactly 70 days ago, triggering a contagion of hopefulness among Filipinos. He wooed and won votes with a slogan that was simple, yet catchy: ”Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Without corruption, there’d be no poverty.
The second Aquino presidency has spread a virus of hope that finds sole parallel in the tide of goodwill that Filipinos bestowed on his late mother and democracy icon Corazon ‘Cory’ C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.
Indeed, Aquino’s campaign equation of “no corruption = no poverty” has animated Filipinos so much that the expectations are great that he will deliver results soon.
IN HIS message that accompanies the proposed government budget for next year, President Benigno C. Aquino III notes that the allocation for health is 13.6 percent higher than 2010’s P29.3 billion (According to the 2010 General Appropriations Act though, only P28.7 billion was allocated to the Health Department).
Yet if one were to compare health’s share of the budget for this year and what the corresponding figure could be in the next, the difference isn’t much.
For 2010, the health allocation is 1.8 percent of the P1.54-trillion national purse. For 2011, the Aquino administration is proposing P32.62 billion for health –as indicated in the proposed National Expenditure Program — which is 1.9 percent of the P1.64-trillion national budget. The increase in terms of share in the total budget then would amount to just a tenth of a percentage point.
IT WILL be his first official trip overseas as the country’s chief executive, but President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has little reason to look forward to his upcoming visit to the United States.
On September 20, Aquino will be at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to present just how far the Philippines has achieved progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, in large measure because of the shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is bound to acknowledge before other world leaders that the country is falling short of several of these targets.
In September 2000, the Philippines and 188 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and committed themselves to achieving a set of eight goals by 2015. These goals – the MDGs – have since been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress for both rich and poor countries.
IN THE nation’s third poorest province, Maguindanao, the poverty incidence is a staggering 62 percent – five of every six residents live on less than a dollar a day. But in the midst of all that poverty, Maguindanao and the Ampatuans have always been awash in cash, not so much because of any economic activity of note. The cash came nearly entirely from Manila, courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has pampered the province and the clan as if they were her spoiled twins.
THE LAST time Lina Macaurog visited her youngest child Fatima, the four-year-old was running a fever and had cried violently when her mother was preparing to go. “I had a hard time leaving,” recalls Lina. But she had to go home to Culiat in Quezon City, where she works and lives with her two older daughters.
THE IMPORTANCE of family to the individual is almost an article of faith in the Philippines. I remember the bewildered look of our respondents in a research project when we posed the question, “Is it important to have a family?” It was as if we had come from another planet, since we asked a question whose answer was obvious: yes. And just in case we did come from another planet, the respondents all zeroed in on the fact that life is simply unimaginable without the family. Whether they are down and out or happy and successful, Filipinos always have their families conveniently nearby.
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