How poor?

Published December 9, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza

Medium Rare

Jullie Y. Daza

More than three million Filipinos lost their jobs and seven million were underemployed as of October 2021. Ten million did not have enough to eat or to buy the most essential goods to keep their heads above water. Multiplied by five dependents each, that’s 50 million unhappy lives.

There are no separate statistics to count how many workers kept their jobs in the profitable corporations that are the source of favorable headlines in the inside pages of the newspapers. If the front pages are full of bad news, just turn to the business section and there you’ll find more black ink than red, and be glad that you own a share or hold a position in those companies.

What research does not measure is the rivers of blood shed by mom-and-pop shops, the little pop-ups and start-ups that were bled dry by the lockdowns caused by the pandemic. You won’t find their names and numbers – how many lost their shirts, employees, clients, their livelihood – in the business pages, no matter that the MSME’s (mini, small, and medium enterprises) own or used to own 96 percent of the economy.

It’s global news that “governments continue to buy weapons” during the pandemic, the top 100 arms manufacturers earning $531 billion since 2019, or one percent while the world economy contracted by three percent. Good news or bad?

Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna are expected to “make pre-tax profits of $34 billion, which works out to over $1,000/second, $65,000/minute or $93.5 million/day.”

Over here, the national debt has ballooned to P11.97 trillion – 12 zeroes – but who cares? Let the next government and the next and the next worry, let them pay the debt on the backs of tax-paying citizens. Or what’s an election for, once every six years? Us poor, when we can afford trillions in utang!!

Beware of candidates vowing to end poverty once and for all. Even the Bible says: “The poor you will always have with you.” To which a bishop added in addressing the poor: “Do not let candidates use you.” The good bishop may be a man of God but he’s certainly not of the streets. Money from a candidate may not be manna from heaven but the poor will use it to eat another meal.