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Poverty is a state of being poor, indigence, lack of material things and finances. Poverty puts people into the lowest level in a society. Poor people, most of the time, are neglected by the government, shunned by the society and not given enough opportunities to prosper. They live in a filthy environment, living among a community of criminals. We can enumerate countless of unpleasant words to define the effect of poverty, and there are countless of reasons and causes for these. Poverty remains the central development issue in the Philippines and, despite the ambitious development goals laid out by the government, the country has not been able to sustain the economic growth required to reduce poverty to acceptable levels.
Why Poverty Remains a Social Issue in the Philippines
First, there is a fundamental disconnect between Filipino élites and the poor. The political leadership in the Philippines has always been drawn from those élites, and those politicians have traditionally played the role of patrons and benefactors, relying on the pork barrel and personal/family funds (often acquired through corruption) to essentially buy votes. “The core principle of democracy – that representatives should be drawn from those they represent and advocate for the true interests of their constituents – has not been operative” (Abueva, 1964).
Philippine Presidents in particular have been drawn from the ranks of the wealthy and privileged. How can they relate to what it means to be poor or hungry? Even if their heart’s in the right place (which is not all that common), well-photographed visits to squatter settlements are not the answer.
Second, the Philippines system is exceedingly politicized. President Arroyo herself is already focused on the 2004 presidential elections. In a sense, you can’t blame GMA. Her predecessor, Erap, had a built-in constituency among the masa. But President Arroyo must create such a base, given that she is the daughter of a previous President and has virtually nothing in common with the poor people of her country. She has worked hard to develop support among the common folk, dressed in jeans with regularity, and sung on stage with popular recording artists.
She has also latched onto fighting poverty as a key policy emphasis. In her State-of-the-Nation (SONA) address on July 22nd, she emphasized the so-called “rolling stores” – trucks loaded with subsidized rice, rice, sugar, and canned meat that ply the streets of Manila – as a sterling example of her administration’s anti-poverty programs. The only problem was that her remarks had knowledgeable economists practically rolling in the aisles, given that few poor people ever get access to the trucks and only 5% of the nation’s poor live in Metro Manila. But real poverty alleviation programs where they are most needed – say in rural Mindanao – would lack the publicity opportunities of the rolling stores on Manila streets.
Additionally, several other studies list down the primary causes of poverty in the Philippines in terms of economic state:
The basic economic problem in the Philippines is inefficient and very low incomes.
The finances of the Government had become steadily worse and were not critical, The Treasury had a large and mounting deficit with taxes covering little more than 60% of the expenditures.
The country had an excessive volume of imports. In the meantime, the volume of exports was less than before the war an d could be expected to grow only gradually.
There had been inequalities in the level of income of people. While the standard of living of a great segment of the population remained below that of the pre-war level, the profits of businessmen and large landowners had risen considerably. Under the circumstances, the continued rise in the prices of commodities tended to transfer real income from the poor to the wealthy and;
The inefficiency and corruption in the government led the people to lose their faith and confidence in the ability of the government “to protect the interest of all the people.” The result was demoralization of the people.
According to history, “the destruction of the national economy as a result of the war posed serious problems of subsistence and of peace and order” (Agoncillo, 1990). In such circumstances the leaders if the nation could only rely on the United States for financial and other material aid. The hundreds of millions of dollars given t the Philippines by the United States in the form of cash and surplus properties were used to rehabilitate agriculture, commerce, trade and industry. Some of it, however, went to the pockets of dishonest officials. There were marked increases in the gross national output and income, but the cost of living, as a whole, continues to soar or, at least, to remain static on the basis of the immediate post-liberation years. At the same time, labor grew and continues to grow, demanding increases in wages and better living conditions. The total picture of the national economy has improved, but the improvements are not sufficient to bring down cost of living, which has remained one of the highest in the world.
Agricultural production – The destruction caused by the last war told heavily on the productive capacity of the people and their standard of living (Agoncillo, 1990). With financial help from the United States, however, the government, in the first ten years of the Republic, had succeeded in at least partially solving the minor economic problems. Thus, for instance, crop production from 1946 and 1956 increased from 3, 507, 200 metric tons to almost double the amount of 6, 274, 900 metric tons. This increased production was the upshot of the expanded area planted to food crops and the application of improved means of increasing the yield per hectare, such as the use of fertilizer, irrigation, the use of better seeds, and the effective use of chemicals against plant pests and diseases. Production of export crops also increased tremendously from 315, 000 metric tons in 1956, with copra and sugar leading all export crops. Other exports like abaca, tobacco and their by-products have not so far completely recovered from the effects of the last war (Martin, 1999).
However, some are blamed upon the things done by irresponsible individuals from high to low profile individuals such as population growth – some Filipinos believe that it is natural for every married woman to bear a child in their wombs because they are with their husbands (Friedman et al., 1977). And this are very wrong beliefs since if you will be reasonable enough, you will realize that having a child is always together with great responsibility that has no end. And that you will realize that having more and more children will cause great scarcity in your family such as you would not be able to send your children to school and you would not be able to provide enough foods so that you children will be healthy and do good in school. Population growth is also the reason for a number of malnourish children in the Philippines.
Unemployment is also a very common cause of poverty in the Philippines since there are several Filipinos who are unemployed plus the fact that there are many companies that are affected of the global economic crisis. And the least thing that you can do about unemployment is to find a best way on generating money like you can accept laundry services, plumbing services, or electrical repair services if you are skilled enough to do the job. Then, you could start a certain profitable business like food house or a small store that does not require you much capital so that you will not find it hard to save enough money from the services that you are offering.
Governance concern is still deemed as one of the main reasons of poverty in the Philippines because of the activities of the corrupt government officials. They are using the money of the people to achieve the power and authority that they wanted to have and once they have it they will automatically take advantage of their power to the point that they will neglect the yoke of the people and set aside their promises when they are just campaigning and try to convince the people to vote for them.
Agricultural problems also pose as the natural cause of the poverty in the Philippines because of the wrong activities of people. They ruin the treasure of the nature for their own sake without any idea that the nature they are destroying is the main source of almost all the products that exist in this world. Some of the examples of destroying the nature are the irresponsible disposal of wastes and trash, dynamite fishing, illegal logging and more.
Another cause is said to be disability – this is also one of the possible causes of poverty in the Philippines since more and more people nowadays become disabled because of several illnesses and diseases that arise like AH1N1 virus, SARS, dengue, and more. Disability may be also caused by uncontrolled population growth, for instance, you have ten kids in the house, and can you imagine attending to their needs everyday? Well, definitely not so the tendency is that they are prone to accidents that will cause them to be disabled since they are at very young age that are typically playful.
Starvation has also been one of the primary effects of poverty in the Philippines. Eating is necessary for us to survive. As humans we need to eat three times a day or more. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford this kind of living. Many people, children and families in this world, suffer from hunger due to lack of finances for their everyday needs. Based on the record of UNICEF, more than half of the children all over the world are malnourished. Most of them came from countries that are less abundant.
Apparently, research shows that education has also been a problem in the Philippines. It is not prioritized by the government because only the privileged can have access to basic education in the sense that most of the children in the Philippines could not afford the needs of a student such as food, clothing, school materials and even fares used for transportation. There are also schools which offer free education like the government schools and private schools which accept scholarships, but still, lack in financial support is their main dilemma. These are just some of the reasons why most of the students from different levels take education for granted. Instead of going to school, they spent their time working in order to help their families make a living.
The masses have multiplied extremely. Increase in opportunities for employment has not yet overcome the rapid increase in population, resulting in the multiplication of the number of jobless proletariat. When one considers that a large number of school children become “school orphans” that is, they leave school before or after finishing Grade IV, and that they eventually become peasants or laborers, one ceases to wonder why the base of the triangular structure of society has widened considerably. The strong contrast between the upper classes and the lower classes is that the former are earning more and more and the latter less and less. In other words, the distribution of wealth is one-sided as to make society top heavy.
In the country’s present situation, the economy of the Philippines is struggling. The government has a huge debt from the World Bank and those money which the government borrowed where not used in projects which could alleviate poverty but were where lost to corruption. That’s why many Filipinos blame the government for the slow progression of our country. The Philippines was even given a tag as one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. Many people also blame the government because regardless of scarcity that all of us are experiencing, the government still manages to increase the prices of the merchandise in the markets.
True anti-poverty programs take a long time to bear fruit, and the politically-driven nature of Philippine government sector programs almost ensures that the emphasis will continue to be on quick fixes or interventions that provide high visibility and political payoffs (Warner & Harris).
This is unfortunate given the seriousness of the situation and the implications for the country if concerted action is not taken.
Poverty and malnutrition are already at alarming levels in this country, and the country’s too-rapid population growth is magnifying the strain on limited budgetary resources. The rapidly growing population is jeopardizing the quality of basic social services, contributing to the ongoing decline in quality of basic education, and limiting access to health care (especially primary health care, reproductive health/family planning, immunization, and feeding programs).
Achieving any significant reduction in poverty will require rapid economic growth, growth of a magnitude not seen in recent years. Further, addressing issues of inequality will require significant investments in human capital, especially in improving the quantity and quality of primary education.
The result of such unbalanced development of society is discontent and grave social problems such as poverty. The extreme poverty has given rise to starvation in some communities an to criminality, The unequal distribution of material possessions, in which the rich wallow in wealth and the poor in filth is one of the reasons for the rise in criminality. Poverty has also given rise to a new class known as squatters.
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