By Jesus P. Estanislao
It is impossible to have our Dream Philippines realized unless we also band together to address the 6 basic needs of our people, especially of our people. Those needs are: Food; housing; health; education; electricity; transportation.
Different people have different needs.Our Dream Philippines should enable our poor people to meet their most basic needs.
Some 26% of our population are classified as poor. Of these, around 12 million are categorized as “extremely poor” or those suffering from “extreme hunger.” These are the people our Dream Philippines should aim to provide with ready and affordable access to opportunities by which they can meet their most basic needs.
This is where government support or assistance is needed the most.
On Food. Filipino families, whose main breadwinner earns only a minimum wage, allot close to 43% of their monthly income to food expenses. Considering that the family still has to allot money for electricity, transportation, housing rental, health and education, the minimum wage leaves the family in an extremely difficult position. Our dream is to make that position much easier. There is need for solid, effective action in this regard, from all sectors of society, starting with the government.
On Electricity. Our country is reported to have one of the highest electricity rates in the whole of Southeast Asia, in Asia, and in the world. This fact deters investment; but above all, it imposes a huge burden on poor families. This does not help us in competitiveness, even relative to Thailand and Indonesia. Moreover, it is the poor Filipino families who suffer the most, while the electric companies in the Philippines continue to rake in billions of net earnings annually. Social equity considerations come to the fore, and taking those considerationsseriously would put a great onus on government and other sectors of our economy. How might we face up to such a challenge?
On Transportation. The transportation challenge involves economic and social costs. It is not just how much transportation eats into the family budget. It is also, among others, the long lines and waiting times before one could get a ride in getting to and from work. Particularly among the lower classes in Metro Manila, people wake up early in the morning and come home very late at night. This has deleterious effects on family and social life. Indeed, a good, efficient, and sufficient mass transportation system can change all this and improve the lives of our working people.
On Housing. We have squatter colonies. Particularly in big cities, minimum wage earners cannot afford to buy decent housing for themselves. This affects not only the private welfare of those in the lower classes; it also impacts negatively on social welfare in our urban areas. A Dream Philippines should enable every Filipino family to have access to decent, humane housing, conducive to a healthy and comfortable family life.
On Health & Education. These two areas are of critical importance to our future as a nation, and yet we are making it difficult for all Filipinos to have easy access to ever-improving standards of both education and health. It is easy to make demands that government should provide for such easy access; however, leaving this challenge to be addressed by government all by itself would only make the enterprise expensive, inefficient, and ineffective over-all. What then should we do as a society, as a nation?
The high cost especially for the poor involved in meeting basic needs helps keep the poor remain where they are: Trapped and caught in the jaws of poverty. We need to liberate them from such a situation: And a Philippines that is able to do just that is the Dream Philippines we should all work towards.