Poverty speeches by politicians in business suits

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

The poor cannot eat privilege speeches.

When I saw on TV Senator Bam Aquino in a tailored suit delivering a privilege speech on poverty last week I told myself: Look at these scions of rich hacienderos and oligarchs, schooled in exclusive schools, wallowing in wealth and privilege, their feet have never touched the mud and dust of a squatter area. He talks of economic theories as if still defending a thesis in Ateneo and his topic on poverty is completely betrayed by his sartorial elegance. He appeared like Prince Harry trying to sound like a squatter from B. Rodriguez. His PR handlers should do better if they want this Ninoy lookalike to win a reelection.

Poor voters would have believed if that speech was delivered by Manny Pacquiao, now the richest man in the senate (the richest person is Cynthia Villar). Manny was so poor he went to Manila to work as a construction worker. He sold pan de sal and accepted all kinds of odd jobs while Mama Dionisia sold vegetables in GenSan. Manny also spent millions to help the poor in Socksargen. What has Bam do for the poor?

Cynthia Villar’s husband, Manny Villar, would have been more credible because he was a fish vendor in Tondo. Villar is one of the richest Filipinos today who did not steal money from government. He built his empire starting from two second-hand delivery trucks selling sand and gravel. Today he is a self-made billionaire. What has Bam done to deserve the support of the Filipinos? All he has achieved is marry a rich and pretty girl, graduate summa cum laude, and be chosen one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men. How is this relevant to 10 million poor Filipinos?

He delivered a speech on poverty but knows nothing of it. He was driven by a chauffeur to Ateneo every day. He was born with silver spoon in his mouth. What has he accomplished in the Senate except deliver speeches trying to look like the late Ninoy Aquino? But Ninoy was imprisoned for seven years, he was tortured and assassinated. And what have the Aquinos done to tenants in Hacienda Luisita? Come on, Bam, be real. Why don’t you visit a poor family in Tupas, Ronda, or see how a fisherman makes ends meet in Basdiot, Moalboal. It’s one thing to deliver a speech on poverty while wearing a branded imported suit while the poor struggle.

Poverty is not a theory for a thesis in elite universities or for a privileged speech by elegantly-attired Senators. It is painful reality people suffer each day. Bam should know better than that. I challenge him to live in a squatter area behind TB Pavilion in B. Rodriguez, even for a week. There he will break down in tears.


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