No money for hungry and poor Filipinos?

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - October 8, 2020 - 12:00am

Do you believe that there is really no money available for hungry and poor Filipinos?

As we wrote previously, hunger is now even more widespread throughout the country. The September 2020 hunger rates have broken previous records, meaning in the last 3 months, more Filipinos did not have food to eat or have eaten once or only a few times or have not eaten often or always!

And their numbers are legion -- 7.7 millions to be exact.

God forbid, if nothing is done for them soonest, expect more hungry who may eventually be too sick and die.

This early, a study may be needed to check on the number of non-COVID related deaths among our people. Such urgent research can verify if hunger has led to sickness or death, if more sickness or death may have been caused by hunger than the Covid-19 virus!

We certainly pray that those in government set aside non-essentials and personal agenda so that public funds, which are available, are immediately prioritized and allotted for the millions of hungry and poor Filipinos!

Yes, you read it correctly. There ARE public funds available.

Observe the present preoccupation of the House of Representatives. Their priority, they say, is to pass the 2021 budget (a whooping P4.506 trillion budget which is 9.9 percent higher, compared to 2020’s P4.1 trillion national budget, and equivalent to 21.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product!).

According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), some of the proposed budget allocations include: P203.1 billion pesos for Universal Health Care,

PhP1.108 trillion for Build, Build, Build (5.4% of GDP) and P21.4 billion for expenditures for MITHI2 (Medium-Term Information and Communications Technology Harmonization Initiative).

MITHI2 allocations which are intended for adapting to the Post-COVID Life (P7.6 billion) are as follows: telecommunication infrastructure (P4.7 billion), education (P2 billion), defense and justice (P556 million) Labor (P112 million), Industry (P90 million ) Social Protection (P39 million), Transportation (P35 million), Health (P22 M ) and assistance to farmers (P2.1B).

While public funds are available, a closer scrutiny of the budget priorities and amount shows far bigger combined allocations for infrastructure, telecommunication, defense and justice than for labor, industry, social protection, health and assistance to farmers and our needy Filipinos!

Yes, public funds are available but the hungry and the poor are not prioritized!

Yes, public funds are available but a huge amount is intended for POST-COVID Life adaptation! Why not for the present, ongoing pandemic needs and contingencies?

Yes, no doubt, there are public funds!

But look at the priorities of government and agencies!

Remember the “beach nourishment” project which cost around P349 million! Remember how millions of public funds were spent for the beautification of Manila Bay rather than for the sick, the poor and hungry WITHIN the present pandemic!

There are public funds, yes, but national and local governments prefer to spend these for garbage! How much billions have been used instead for collecting and disposing garbage into dumpsites and landfills? Now, trillions are proposed to be used for waste to energy facilities!

There are public funds, yes, but so much billions have been and continue to be lost to corruption!

The latest case involves PHILHEALTH. Many are asking whether the PHILHEALTH investigation will bring back the lost billions of public funds?

There are public funds, yes!

Stop corruption! Stop the huge salaries, bonuses and perks of those in government and GOCCs, especially of the unqualified and undeserving!

For a change, can government funds prioritize the poor and hungry especially during this pandemic?

If only those in government have the political will, decency, sensitivity for transparent/genuine public service and allot funds especially for the needy Filipinos!

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