Agenda of the next president: Poverty reduction
Starting Feb. 9, 2016, the Inquirer is coming out with a 10-part series on pressing national concerns that should be high on the agenda of the five contenders in the May 9 presidential election. The series should help Filipinos choose wisely the country’s next leader.
In line with the Inquirer’s “ThINQ.Vote.” advocacy, we have asked the presidential candidates to outline their concrete plans of action in dealing with 10 decades-long issues on poverty, economy and jobs, food security, peace and order, corruption, health care, foreign policy, traffic, climate change and Internet connectivity.
Poverty is the biggest problem in the Philippines. A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that one in every two Filipino families rated themselves poor in 2015. A Pulse Asia survey also found that 38 percent of the respondents viewed poverty as one of the most urgent national concerns. Studies have shown that among the causes of poverty are inequality, poor government, corruption and slow economic growth.
INQUIRER.net is publishing verbatim the candidates’ action plans. For the summary of the 10 pressing issues, go to our special Election 2016 website.
A Binay presidency will address poverty by creating jobs in key sectors.
We shall focus on the proper implementation and monitoring of government projects and programs. This, in turn, will help attract more capital, generate more jobs and provide additional revenues to enable the state to take better care of our poor and marginalized countrymen.
We shall raise agricultural productivity by reengineering the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) into a well-guided agri-agra development program, and push for amending the CARP Law to allow beneficiaries to sell their usufruct rights and promote corporate farming.
We will make the manufacturing and export sectors more competitive by improving infrastructure and technology logistics that will lower the cost of production, ensure affordable and reliable power supply, and streamline the bureaucratic process of starting a business in the Philippines.
We will also promote environmentally and socially responsible mining, adopting the constitutional principle of balancing interests over the long-term. And in this regard, we shall support mining as long as it is done responsibly. Responsible mining practices should be encouraged. Irresponsible mining practices must not only be discouraged but must be outlawed. We must ensure that the mining taxes we implement are not higher than they already are, but fair and consistent with international best practices.
We will accelerate infrastructure development to boost tourism and address traffic congestion. The Philippines has plenty of tourism gems that are not as accessible due to our poor network of roads, public transport, bridges, ports and airports.
We will open up the economy further to foreign investments. We believe that our economic restrictions adversely affect the Philippines’ ability to attract more foreign direct investments. Therefore, at the start of a Binay administration, we will immediately push for amendments in the economic provisions of our Constitution. This move will make our economic growth more investment-driven rather than consumption-driven.
- Poverty reduction programs must graduate eventually from dole-outs to providing employment and livelihood generation programs.
- The Department of Social Welfare and Development should engage in poverty reduction programs particularly strengthening of programs such as SEA-K for the poorest of the poor.
- Many of the rural poor are indigenous peoples (IPs). It is important that we review the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plans and find ways for these to be operationalized and optimized to provide income opportunities for IPs. This makes their ancestral domains productive while preserving their culture.
- Free irrigation frees up significant cash from the meager incomes of farmer families. This will translate to immediate impact.
- Agri-financing reforms are needed to push additional agricultural production and expand rural incomes by expanding agricultural production. The performance of the Land Bank of the Philippines in relation to actually assisting farmers and fishermen shall be implemented immediately. LandBank must be true to its original mandate and not operate just like a commercial bank.
Editor’s Note: Poe submitted revised platforms on poverty reduction, economy and jobs, food security and peace and order to the Inquirer on Feb. 12, 2016, after their publication in the paper. Reflected now are her new, verbatim agendas.
- Promote the growth of labor-intensive industries so as to create more jobs.
- Encourage investment in sectors that employ people outside of the cities, such as tourism and mining, while preserving the environment.
- Rebalance the Land Bank of the Philippines’ focus, from profitability to developmental lending,
- Reduce costs of food and other basic necessities by stimulating competition.
- Expand coverage of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to ensure that children from poor families are kept in school and given a better chance in life.
We plan to sustain and even expand the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) until it achieves its fullest potential. In 2010, the CCT benefitted only 700,000 families. Today, we are helping 4.4 million families break the cycle of poverty by offering their children elementary and high school scholarship grants. We want to expand the program by offering 100-percent college scholarship for top graduates of all public high schools in the country, thereby increasing their opportunities to a brighter future. In fact, results of a yet unfinished study by the DSWD show that 1.4 million households—at five heads per household, that is 7 million individuals—have been lifted above the poverty line. This can only grow larger once all the numbers get in. By any reasonable metric that we can measure at this moment, the CCT is succeeding in its objectives.
On top of all these, we will also boost the engines of development at the local level by widening the scope of Bottom-up Budgeting. Categorized as a capital outlay expense, P100 billion will be downloaded annually to all 1,490 municipalities in the country to fuel real, grassroots-level development. Pegged at P1,000 per capita, the funds will be allocated, spent, and monitored by the people themselves to address their local concerns, making for a truly participatory budget process that will empower communities at the grassroots level. Under this program, nobody will be left behind as the country finally takes off and reaches the next level of progress.
We have to invest in our people. Economic success can be sustained only if the ordinary Filipino is successful, too. But in order to give the ordinary Filipino an opportunity to participate in the development process, we have to invest in his education, basic health care and social welfare. This we will strive to do. We will:
- Either raise minimum wage to a living wage or lower income taxes in order to increase spending power of an ordinary employee;
- Continue to support the CCT program that has spanned two administrations;
- Complement the CCT program with a grant-for work program, where beneficiary families whose mother or father enlists for work will get higher benefits;
- Implement the CCT program jointly with local government units to reduce the administrative costs of running the CCT program and promote ownership of the program among local officials; and
- Establish a National Congressional Commission that will prepare legislative proposals for dealing with poverty as “a condition of dehumanization” based on expert policy studies to be mandated principally from state universities.
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