Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00 Published in Headlines
AN’YARE? (WHAT HAPPENED?), NOY CRITICS ASK
Malacañang offered more promises while the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) demanded answers after data the government released itself the other day showed the Aquino administration failed to make any headway in reducing poverty in the country.
The National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) released a report the other day showing that poverty afflicts three of every 10 Filipinos, a figure that had not changed for the past seven years.
“So what happened, Mr. President?” UNA asked in a statement.
Despite the claims of upward economic growth by the administration, the latest figures released by NSCB showed that no dramatic results were felt by Filipinos who still remain poor for the past six years, according to UNA.
UNA secretary general and campaign manager Toby Tiangco said that the poverty incidence report by the NSCB practically debunks the government’s claim of an improving economy.
The NSCB reported that poverty levels from 2006 to 2012 remained unchanged as the computed differences are not statistically significant. UNA senatorial bets argued that the Aquino administration should seek to translate its economic figures into tangible projects that will generate jobs and lift the quality of life of Filipinos.
They sought greater focus on irrigation and ensuring adequate power supply in order to bring more investors in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda disputed the government’s own figures saying that it was not current.
“These are year 2012 numbers, these are not current numbers. The survey that was conducted by the NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board) was for the first semester of 2012, which means the first half of 2012,” Lacierda said.
He said the next round of poverty statistics will give better results that will reflect the government’s massive investment in human development and poverty mitigation.
In the second quarter of 2012, Lacierda said the economy grew by 5.9 percent, which was later revised to six percent.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman had a different take on the NSCB figures saying the “statistics released by NSCB (indicated) poverty has eased a little”.
Soliman’s Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) runs the flagship anti-poverty program of Aquino called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which has a P40 billion funding in this year’s budget.
“We would like to assure that the DSWD is doing its best to implement programs and projects that will contribute to the poverty alleviation efforts of the government,” Soliman said.
The 4Ps or the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program cover 3,841,992 poor households in 1,627 cities and municipalities in 79 provinces in 17 regions nationwide, according to Soliman.
In reply to queries about the ineffectiveness of the program as reflected in the NSCB survey, Soliman said the CCT is not the only solution to poverty saying it should be converged with other government programs like employment, livelihood, shelter, education, health, and agriculture.
“CCT is just one of the government’s anti-poverty programs. The cash grant under the Pantawid Pamilya is like a life buoy to put stability to the situation of the poor, while investment on health and education is being done”, Soliman said.
Tiangco said that the 6.6 percent growth in 2012 reported by the NSCB only shows that the claimed “growth” by the administration had a faint impact on poverty alleviation, and worse unemployment rates continue to increase.
“Anyare? (What happened?) Didn’t they say the economy has been improving? Why are many looking at the sky to wonder where the supposed improvement went?” Tiangco asked.
Nancy Binay, meanwhile, reiterated that rosy economic figures are “useless unless the economic growth is inclusive.”
According to Binay, government would need to shore up the country’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors, as these sectors will help provide more stable jobs to a larger portion of the population.
“We must strengthen sectors such as agriculture and industries to be able to create jobs for Filipinos here at home,” she also said.
Government must focus on irrigation, she said, citing data that 1.5 million hectares are still un-irrigated.
Binay added that the country’s power situation needs to be addressed, as this is also one reason investors are shying away from the Philippines. “Investors are starting to leave China because of the high labor cost but they are not coming to the Philippines because we do not have adequate power supply.
“That confirms again that the Aquino administration is a failure, a disaster. Because after three years they have not made a dent on poverty,” said UNA senatorial bet Ernesto Maceda.
Maceda also pointed out that the P45 billion CCT program might be put to better use, especially after allegations that members of the 4Ps program in Zamboanga City were barred from attending UNA-led activities.
“There are indications, [I’ve heard here in Zamboanga,] that the CCT is being used for partisan political purposes,” Maceda said.
He added that the poverty problem was mainly due to the lack of jobs.
Maceda deplored the fact that new jobs were not being created despite the 6.6 percent growth in the economy.
Meanwhile, Tiangco said that administration may spin economic indicators to show that the economy is improving, but the the reality is that the poor remain poor.
It has always been UNA’s position that reality is gauged and measured by tangible gut concerns.
National Anti-Poverty Commission chairman Joel Rocamora said that by the end of President Aquino term, government programs “will already have statistical impact” with poverty incidence to drop by 16 percent in 2016.
“Another three years of waiting is too long. If we are serious in improving the lives of Filipinos, government must take concrete and practical steps for everyone to feel the impact down to the grassroots level,” Tiango said.
In Mindanao, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the highest poverty incidence in the first half of 2012 at 52.9 percent. Regions XII and VIII have high poverty incidences of 45.8 percent and 45.5 percent, respectively,
Tiangco said Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan should be commended for being forthright in saying that poverty statistics were “not the dramatic results that we wanted”, adding that the rural sector lags behind because of the lack of focus of government and private sector involvement in agriculture.
Lacierda claimed the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet cluster has come up with an action plan to generate jobs for people living in the urban areas, as well as the countryside. He said various programs to support the farmers are now in place to improve the agricultural sector.
At least two of the administration allies in the Senate yesterday agreed with the report that poverty incidence remains high in the country even under the leadership of Aquino where reform programs are given emphasis.
“Yes the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. The gap between the rich and poor wider. The CCT is helpful but not enough,” Sen. Ralph Recto said.
More investments are needed in educating poor families and in creating more jobs for the poor to get them out of poverty, the ways and means committee chairman said.
“We need to grow at a faster rate of at least 10 percent, sustainably, for a longer period of time. A great majority of those living below poverty have not finished grade school.
“We must allow for more private sector investments in infrastructure, factories and food production to create more jobs and build the middle class,” he said.
“Taxation and spending are equalizers. We must provide equal opportunity for rich and poor to have quality education etc. because even if we build all infrastructure, the rich educated will benefit the most because they will know how to use them properly and productively. Unlike the poor uneducated. Therefore, infrastructure not enough. Education is key and a robust private sector,” said Recto.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, also considered a staunch Palace ally, would not dispute the report of the NSCB. “I can actually validate the survey result on the poverty situation when I go around and see for myself poverty at its worst. I’ve seen a number of communities very close to NCR (National Capital Region) if not within NCR itself where one cannot imagine how the residents can last a day under the conditions they are in,” he said in a text message to reporters.
But Sen. Sergio Osmeña III has an explanation to the said report saying that it’s a a phenomenon seen not only this year but for over a decade even by highly developed countries.
“Not only in our country but in many countries. Even first world nations. This is known as jobless growth. The facile explanation is that the highly skilled workers become more productive and earn raises in pay plus more automation increases profits for corporation but hardly expands worker base. The question is what are we going to do to create more jobs? But that’s a long discussion. Better ask the trained economists,” he said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, chair of the Senate finance committee, defended Aquino over insinuations that the Chief Executive has not been successful in eradicating poverty.
“You forget that our population increased from 2006-2013 and yet, the poverty incidents has dipped a bit. That only means that we have been successful in alleviating the poverty. If you look at it from a point of view of the population having increased compared to six to seven years ago.
“Reduction of poverty takes time. But because of the reforms done by this administration, it has paved the way for a substantive poverty reduction through socio-economic reforms like for example the 4Ps program, the increase in enrolment of the poor in the PhilHealth program.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 00:00 Published in Headlines
Surveys are becoming dime a dozen as election day nears,with all pointing to the predicted 12-0 domination by the Team PNoy administration coalition.
The Social Weather Stations (SWS) released another survey showing 10-2 in favor of Team PNoy among candidates with chances of landing a slot in the 12 positions being contested for the Senate based on statistical probability.
A Palace-commissioned survey, on the other hand, showed a tight senatorial race not only between the candidates of the two major coalition parties but their own so-called “senatoriables,” as eight of those with statistical chance of winning in the polls figured in a tie from 7th to 14th slots.
Reelectionist Senators Loren Legarda and Francis “Chiz” Escudero have practically “sealed” the first two slots, registering a 62 and 62 percent of votes respectively, from among the respondents, based on the administration survey.
The SWS survey, meanwhile, was a partnership between SWS and broadsheet Business World. It showed United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate Nancy Binay and former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar of Team PNoy barging into the top three dislodging administration bet Escudero to fifth spot.
The survey, conducted from April 13 to 15, showed the two tied at rank third and fourth, both gaining two percentage points to 49 percent from a rating of 47 percent.
Legarda maintained the top spot with 59 percent followed by Sen. Allan Cayetano with 52 percent, down from 57 percent last March.
Re-electionist Escudero further dropped in the survey to 5th despite his score dropping by just one percentage point (from 48 to 47).
On sixth place was UNA’s Bam Aquino; Team PNoy’s Koko Pimentel and UNA’s JV Ejercito tied at seventh and eight place; UNA’s Sonny Angara at ninth; Team PNoy’s Grace Poe and Sonny Trillanes tied at 10th and eleventh; and UNA’s Jack Enrile and Gringo Honasan tied at 12th and 13th.
The SWS survey came with a caveat that “the April 2013 pre-election survey on senatorial preferences was not commissioned, and was done on SWS’s own initiative. SWS does not allow anyone to be a commissioner or to pay for the specific inclusion of this question. In this way, SWS maintains the sole right to publish the findings as a public service, with exclusive first-print right assigned to BusinessWorld.”
The SWS has been under fire from political parties and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) itself for refusing to identify those who had commissioned the survey that it released.
Cayetano, also a reelectionist, came in a poor third in the Palace-commissioned survey trailing Escudero by 13 percentage points contrary to the results of other survey outfits where the upper chamber minority leader has supposedly “overtaken” Escudero in second place.
Ranked fourth is former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chair Grace Poe with 47 percent, followed by UNA’s Nancy Binay at 45 percent.
Trillanes, who is often at the last four slots in various mock polls, landed this time sixth with 44 percent, his highest so far while reelectionist, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is ranked 9th and tied with UNA’s Jack Enrile with 42 percent.
Pimentel’s so-called nemesis, former Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri actually came in ahead of him at 43 percent and is locked with fellow UNA candidate JV Ejercito Estrada.
Slugging it out in the 11th to 12th place is Team PNoy’s Bam Aquino, reelectionist Honasan of UNA and former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar who is running under the administration-led coalition, as all three of them received 39 percent.
Tied at 14th to 15th place is former Sen. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr. and Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara who are both running under Team PNoy with 38 percent.
Sources would not disclose the survey firm that conducted the mock polls during the first week of April.
It is not likely to be made public as the said survey carried out by a “reputable” firm that provides market research insight across all industry and business sectors, is intended to keep as benchmark or in check of the administration coalition as to the actual standing of their candidates.
The said results corroborated with the claims made by Poe to reporters in Iligan City, when sought for her reaction on the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) where she plummeted to the 10th slot, based on their April 13 to 15 survey and Escudero plunging to No. 5.
“Maybe I can speak as somebody who knows Sen. Chiz (Escudero), anyway it’s not my survey. I don’t find it (SWS results)) believable, that he’s now in No. 5 position.
Poe then went on to explain that a survey company commissioned by the leaders of their parties in the coalition showed Escudero in tight hold of the No. 2 slot.
The Supreme Court’s ruling effectively lifting the Commission on Elections (Comelec) airtime limit on political advertisements could expose electoral candidates into violating the spending cap of approximately P150 million, a senatorial candidate yesterday warned.
Reelectionist Sen. Loren Legarda aired this concern as she echoed Sen. Edgardo Angara’s earlier position over the “economic consequence” of the high tribunal’s issuance of a temporary restraining order.
“With the Comelec airtime limits now counted on a per network basis, anyone who uses the full airtime of 180 minutes for radio and 120 minutes for TV will violate the spending cap for candidates of approximately P150 million,” she noted.
“That means spending P120 million for TV and around P12 million for radio at current rates of 30-second ads. Don’t forget we still have to pay for the salaries of our staff, for travel expenses and food,” she added. Legarda, who is seeking reelection under the administration-led coalition Team PNoy, is also urging the Comelec and her fellow candidates to ensure that campaign expenditures especially on TV advertisements are fully transparent, as a result of the high court’s order restraining the imposition of airtime limits.
Under Comelec Resolution 9615 implementing the Fair Elections Act, a candidate is allowed to spend only up to P3 for each of the 52 million registered voters.
“Certainly I will not spend that amount. Excessive campaign spending is unconscionable,” Legarda said.
She emphasized that the Comelec has yet to come out with official data on candidates’ airtime usage, but noted that political ads on TV have dramatically increased.
“The Comelec must monitor everyone’s compliance with the rules especially on spending limits to provide a level playing field. I urge the Comelec to ensure that all candidates account for every minute they appear on TV and radio,” she said.
Angara the other day practically sided with Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes as he too expressed disappointment over the high tribunal’s series of reversal of decisions reached by the Comelec, especially on the matter of the airtime limit rule as there seems to be a sense of “unfairness” as it came three weeks before the end of the campaign period.
Although the high court’s TRO against the Comelec is not yet final and can still be appealed by the poll body, the senator said it has somehow placed all the candidates on shaky grounds since they’re still not free to avail of or accede to the regulation set by the high tribunal and could affect the poll body’s exercise of its authority in supervising the conduct of the elections on May 13.
“The ruling of the Comelec has been going on for the almost over half of the campaign period so all candidates have planned on that basis and no one can say that ‘we were misled, that it was not the (time) limit after all’... so no one can say that because of that he was put in a disadvantaged position. So when you change (the rule) after almost 60 percent of the campaign period has lapsed, there’s some unfairness to it. The word is unfairness because it caused surprise on the candidates,” he said.
Angara also raised the “economic consequence” as it will prove to be more favorable to moneyed candidates because the rules of the game have been changed and would no longer prevent them from placing ads as many as they can.
“If you could only afford to have three spots a day, it will be a disadvantage really, economically,” he said.
The case stemmed from the petitions filed against the Comelec resolution on airtime limit on political advertisements by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, ABC Development Corp., Manila Broadcasting Co. Inc. and Newsounds Broadcasting Network Inc., and Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and broadcast networks GMA-7 and TV5.
“By a vote of 9-6 and after deliberation on the issues and the different opinions submitted pertinent to the consolidated petitions, the Court has decided to issue a temporary restraining order in view of the urgency involved and to prevent irreparable injury that may be caused to the petitioners if respondent Comelec is not enjoined from implementing its so-called “aggregate time” contained in its Resolution No. 9615,” the SC en banc resolution said.
Instead of unlimited air time under the TRO, the TRO will implement the 2010 elections limit of 120 minutes for television and 180 minutes radio airtime for candidates and political parties for a national elective position. The 60 minutes/90 minutes airtime limit per station for a local elective position will also apply.
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