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The Poverty of Filipinos

Sarah Jane A. Ali

The Catholic Church is one of the major reasons for the lack of progress in the Philippines

The major problems of the Philippines are poverty, unemployment, graft and corruption, overpopulation and peace and order. These are not mutually exclusive. Poverty is caused by lack of income. Lack of income is the result of unemployment and for subsistence farmers, the inability to farm due to drought or lack of irrigation facilities. Unemployment may be reduced if more investment is generated domestically or from foreign investors. Investment is a function of savings. If savings can not be sufficiently generated, the banks will not have enough funds to lend to entrepreneurs. Historically, there is less savings in the Philippines relative to other Southeast Asian countries since most Filipinos are poor. Forty percent of the Filipinos live below the poverty line of $276 dollars a year. Not many foreign investors are attracted to invest in the Philippines due to the perceived political instability. Political instability is the end result of having a flawed democracy in the Philippines. The presidential form of government must be replaced by a parliamentary form of government because as Dodot Jaworski, the Congressman-elect of Pasig commented in ABS-CBN's "Dong Puno Live" recently, much resources of the government was being wasted by the duplication of and the slow passage of legislation in both houses of Congress. He knows whereof he speaks being the chief-of-staff of his father, Senator Sonny Jaworski. A unicameral parliament would be able to pass legislations faster that would address the economic problems of the nation. The Catholic Church is one of the major reasons for the lack of progress in the Philippines. It is opposed, on moral grounds, to all forms of birth control methods except the rhythm method which is unreliable since female ovulation is variable. Consequently, the population keeps growing, thereby taxing the delivery of basic services like health care, education and security. The Catholic Church, a strong exponent of people power, which every presidential candidate must take into account, acts as kingmaker during election. Its allpervasive influence must be curbed in order to address the problem of overpopulation-- a social time bomb waiting to explode. With so many poor Filipinos, graft and corruption has become an epidemic. Bureaucrats --from top to bottom-- resort to graft and corruption because their salary is often not sufficient to give their family a decent standard of living. If only they have less children to feed! Peace and order deteriorates when many people are poor. The temptation to commit crime is great when the alternative is starvation. Poverty is, therefore, the root cause of all our

problems and the solution lies in alleviating poverty. If the government is only more responsive to the needs of the poor, half of our nation's problems would be solved.