Would the legislature accept a 50% pay cut?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

I read in the news that eight out of ten Filipinos believe their lives got worse in the past 12 months, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) mobile phone survey. The July 3 to 6 poll found 79 percent of Filipino adults saying that their quality of life worsened compared to a year ago (called “losers” by the SWS) and eight percent saying it got better (“gainers”). This resulted in a net gainers score (gainers minus losers) of -72, classified by the SWS as “catastrophic.” What else can we say but it must be true!

?The SWS survey was conducted using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews of 1,555 adult Filipinos, aged 18 and above, nationwide. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. assured the public that the government is working to improve the lives of everyone despite the recent developments while he continues to trumpet the administration’s good economic standing prior to the pandemic. The big question is…whether this SWS survey was accurate or not.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported in June that the Philippines experienced a record-high unemployment rate of 17.7 percent or about 7.3 million Filipinos by April. COVID-19 it has indeed adversely affected our economy and people’s livelihood and business. I would like to believe that this information is very correct, which is why we must find ways to restart our failed economy as soon as possible.

?To mitigate the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19, he said government economists have prepared a whole-of-society program in a recovery plan called Recharge PH, which seeks to refocus, sharpen the design and accelerate the implementation of programs under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA). I hope they are right in their plan to do this.

?There is no question that the Year 2019 at least for the Island of Cebu was a banner year, especially with regards our tourism industry. However the global pandemic killed whatever progress we made in the Year 2019. Today, restarting the tourism economy is what our political leaders in Cebu are pushing hard to do. But for as long as foreign tourists have not returned… this maybe a difficult thing to do.

?Let’s face it, almost all sectors of society have been affected by the lockdowns. Taxi or jeepney drivers, factory workers, restaurant workers, hotel and resort workers, tour guides and their agencies and even ordinary office workers had to shut down because the workers cannot go to work without public transportation.  This is what many Filipino workers have suffered through the last five months of lockdown.

?Yesterday, I had a joint TV interview with my fellow MyTV Talkshow host Erik Espina of Ang Republika with my Straight from the Sky TV show and we ended up talking about what the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) had been doing for the past five months… literally putting aside what the ordinary Filipino needs where they end up having to buy unnecessary things… like that plastic shield to put in between the motorcycles that husbands and wives use. Add what the IATF does, ends up with the local government units (LGUs) using its bureaucracy so people can fill up certain quarantine passes.

During our TV show, we found out that there is a group that doesn’t seem to be affected by the pandemic and it is our political class. Our senators and congressmen go through the usual protocols like wearing of facemasks, social distancing or washing of hands. However they still get their government salaries and thus they are not financially affected by the pandemic. So both Erik and I suggested that what if our Senators and Congressmen accepted a 50 percent reduction on their salaries up to December 2020? Perhaps this would be the only way for our political elite to share the sufferings of the Filipino people! We hope they would accept this challenge.

So when will we hear of a senator or congressman making a decision to accept only half his official salary, and use the other half to fight the Covid-19 virus? Frankly speaking I doubt if this would happen. Remember how I wanted the Senate to stop their P6.9-billion building, which they started only last February? No one cared to stop it.

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?In the latest news we got, we learned that the Department of Education (DepEd) has clarified that private elementary and high schools may start classes ahead of the Oct. 5 school opening schedule for public schools in the country. They were supposed to open on Aug. 24th. This was in response to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), request in a statement on behalf of its member basic education institutions, sought clarification if the private educational sector is covered by the deferment of the school opening to Oct. 5. Whatever it is, be it Aug. 24 or Oct.5, school has to resume for it has been five long months of doldrums for kids!

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