Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the poor

It is sad but true. To be poor in this country is a big living and continuing curse. During elections, all local and national candidates shout their avowed commitment to help the poor. When they are in office and in power, they still say they are pro-poor. Even the national leadership loudly and repeatedly claims its pro-poor plan, programs and projects. It goes all over the world, attends assemblies, hosts meetings—yes—to eventually help the poor.

With the possible 2007 Elections, exactly the same pro-poor speeches will be delivered ad nauseam. Campaign materials, slogans and advertisements will infallibly proclaim the basically pro-poor promises of the candidates, and it has been this way for decades on. The poor have always been in the primary concern of all the election candidates, in the priority agenda of all governments officials—from to the local, to the regional up to the national levels.

Yet, all present realities plus updated statistical data show and prove one and the same truth. The fact is there are more poor in the land. In effect, the poor have become even poorer, they do not have enough to eat, and simply die when sick for lack of medical care. There must be something fundamentally wrong in this country, something grossly wrong with the governance of the present administration.

More. It is not enough that the poor in this country remain poor and become poorer. They are in fact made the constant target of multiple exploitation.

One: They are the day to day victims of onerous indirect taxes from birth to death, though they may not know it, government taxes follow them throughout their lives. The water they drink (if clean), the food they eat (if any), the daily needs they have (which are many) are all taxed. Their beneficiary is the government while they remain its continuous multi-million victims.

Two: They are exploited as export labor. They are the abundant source of dollar remittances. There are women forced into the flesh trade. There are children given to forced labor. They are the common targets of illegal drug consumption from marijuana to rugby. Result: they all suffer while their exploiters all rejoice.

Three: They are special victims of small town lottery, bookies, jueteng and many other illegal forms of gambling they all eventually lose while the gambling operators and their payola beneficiaries all go to the banks laughing.

If the poor in the country would unite, march and take over whatever they want, no guns would be enough, no bullets could suffice to stop them. So helpless in actualities yet so strong potentials—this is the poor people in this country.

+O. V. CRUZ, D.D.
29 November 2006