Some unsolicited advice to the new president
TRADE FORUM - Chris Malazarte (The Freeman) - May 21, 2016 - 12:00am

Finally, the people have spoken. But will the new president bring the many voices that have long been unheard by our past presidents? Drugs, criminality and corruption appears to be the most pressing or problems we have or maybe at least during the elections. But whether you like it or not, we will still have the same problem. We can only hope that they are not going to be as rampant as we have them today after the promise of the incoming president that his hands will be red to rid our country of the felons in government and on our streets.

But there’s more to than just the issue of peace and order and clean government. We also need to get to the bottom as to why we still have people who live in a hand-to-mouth basis, homeless families, and a sorry state of agriculture. Criminality feeds on destitution. And we will never erase it much less reduce it if we have people whose hopes for a better life eludes them.

I have always been called by our barangay to handle juvenile offenders and most of them or if not all of them, come from hard up families. Most of the crimes they commit are stealing, drugs, gang wars, gambling, and even rape. Many of them have not gone or have stopped schooling. And when I interview their parents why their kids are not in school, their common answer is “We can’t afford it.” But “Poverty is not an excuse.” I’m sure you would like to throw that to them. But I already did. Poverty if you’re in the midst of it, is such a complex problem.

A poor parent who is also less educated or uneducated does not see education the way we do. They do desire their children to go to school, but when hunger strikes they rather have their children stay home or help out in looking for food on the table – that is if they have one. That’s why you see children begging on the streets, doing odd jobs, or become prostitutes because school cannot bring them their next meal.

Kids who drop out of school are easy targets by criminal syndicates because they have less liability and are least suspected by law enforcement. Point is, children who are exposed to unlawful activities are most likely to become full blown criminals. To rid criminality is not just wiping the people behind the crime. We have to wipe out poverty as well. Eliminating poverty is a herculean task. It takes time, I know. But foremost to eliminating poverty is to get down to the very cause of it - the lack of economic opportunities. And how will our new president address this lack?

If I get the chance to forward my unsolicited advice to the new president, my first suggestion would be to amend the present Constitution. Our Constitution is, for the most part, very political as if it was intended to prevent another martial law or avert the creation of another dictator. The parts that deal with the nation’s economic fate is sullied with remnants of protectionist stance, and no longer relevant in this age of borderless trade. Clearly, such nuances are indicative of our fear and sentiment at the time. Also, the time is ripe as Duterte is obviously uninterested for another term – an issue that has haunt us to postpone the much-needed charter change because of such fear (of perpetuity in power).

We need a fundamental law that encourages more investments to create new jobs. 

On the immediate term, we need to put all our children in school. The 4Ps that has been started need to be rehashed to oblige beneficiaries to use it for their children’s education. It’s a good program but with many flaws. The dole out system is a waste of government money because many of these beneficiaries do not know the intent of the program which is to support them on a day to day basis and to afford their children with their needs in school.

What they know is, it is a cash gift given by the government to people like them and have every right to spend it to their whim. It’s also unfortunate that many beneficiaries wastefully use it in gambling and in non-essentials like cellphones and appliances.   

Converting them to vouchers help reduce the penchant for misspending. Say the voucher can be used to purchase food stuff in groceries, supermarkets and educational supplies. This way, we can monitor where their money went and even create a database of their purchasing habits to improve the program.   

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