Transparency about necessities and beyond

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

All concerned Filipinos should join Senate Majority Leader Franklin M. Drilon in questioning the spending priorities of national (and local) government amid the pandemic.

Particularly, Drilon asked: “Why is the government giving priority to NTF-ELCAC’s anti-insurgency program rather than use the funds to expand ayuda, buy vaccines and feed the poor?”

Drilon rightly pointed out that “defeating the virus and addressing the effects of the pandemic such as unemployment and hunger should be our priority. There are 62% Filipino households who experienced hunger due to COVID-19 pandemic and 4.4 million Filipinos who lost jobs in 2020. The passage of the pending Bayanihan 3 measure in Congress that will provide a bigger economic stimulus is surrounded by uncertainties over the availability funds.”

He said, as of April 2021, total fund releases for the National Task Force to End Local Communism and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has already reached P10.68 billion. Out of the total appropriated P19 billion, P16.4 billion is for its Barangay Development Program where each of over 800 barangays will receive P20 million.

“Bakit po parang nagmadaling ilabas ang NTF-ELCAC budget? Bakit yung pondo sa Marawi rehabilitation mabagal ang paglabas ng pondo? Saan po gagamitin itong P10.68 bilyon?”

“Saan po ba napunta ang P10.68 billion? Anong barangay? Anong siyudad o bayan ang nakinabang dito?”

In the spirit of transparency, amidst competing urgent needs, let us all together demand for national/local government to inform the public about where the huge funds have been spent!

Surely, everyone, including government, sees the urgent need to prioritize and assist thousands of poor, hungry, unhealthy, jobless, homeless Filipinos queuing up daily for basic necessities at various community pantries all throughout the country?

Beyond the basic items, there are also so much more transparent essentials mirrored and provided by the community pantries for all.

Testimony#1- about widespread love, kindness, the good in people.

“Earlier today, we mounted a community pantry for PWDs. We had crutches to give and this lady had a makeshift crutch on her. I said I would give her a pair. She declined. She said she only needed one. I insisted, she still declined. She explained that these crutches last for a year or two and the other pair was best given to someone else who may immediately need it.

“Nadurog yung puso ko kanina. I wanted to hug her but there’s social distancing so I didn’t. She embodied the true meaning of community pantry – ‘Kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan.’

“How people give to others when they themselves are also in need reaches beyond any understanding I’ve ever had about the true meaning of compassion and generosity.”

Testimony#2: about love for nature/Mother Earth.

“Gawin nating pagkain ang patapong bote mo!

“Ang lahat ng pipila sa ating Krus na Ligas Community Pantry ay hinihikayat na magdala ng mga patapong plastic bottles. Tandaan, bukod sa nakatulong na tayo sa ating kapwa, ay higit na mas nakatulong din tayo sa pangangalaga ng ating kalikasan.”

Testimony#3 about the most valuable- God’s unfailing grace.

“Magbubukas na ulit kami sa Sabado pero wala pa din sapat na bigas. Medyo malaki yung expected beneficiaries namin kasi our first wave helped 380-400 families. Ang rice donation namin isang cavan pa lang.

“Worried na ako sobra at this point. Hindi na ako makatulog kakaisip.

“I prayed. ‘Lord, kung gusto mo tong ginagawa namin, you will sustain it. You will find sponsors for us until maintindihan ng tao yung diwa ng community pantry.’

“Just before ako dapuan ng antok, nagforward ng chat ang kasamang volunteer- ‘galing sa isang benefactor. 6 sacks of rice na 25 kilos each para sa Sabado!

“Answered prayer agad! Sa mga napanghihinaan ng loob, pray lang tayo, God will sustain!

“Salamat, Lord. Salamat!”

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