Press Release
July 28, 2009

Press statement of Senator Loren Legarda

On Gov't has its poverty figures all wrong

Millions of Filipinos must have listened to President Arroyo's last SONA on an empty stomach, with hunger probably making them wonder whether what they were hearing was a myth. This because the latest Social Weather Station survey had reported that hunger had hit 3.7 million Filipino families in the last three months, thereby showing the gravity of the poverty problem in the Philippines.

I believe that the percentage of poor Filipinos is far bigger than the 47 percent which the government is willing to admit due to the unrealistic poverty threshold it had been using to come up with its figures. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said that for a Filipino family of five members to be considered poor, it must have a monthly income of less than P6,195. That poverty threshold is simply incredible, isn't it?

Let's do the math. How can government expect a Filipino family to live decently on P6,195 a month when that amount translates to a budget of only P199 for the entire family or P39 per family member each day. No wonder that our people have become so disillusioned with this administration, which probably considers as rich a family that earns slightly more than P6,195 a month.

On GMA simply has to go

There's no point in analyzing to death that part of the SONA on whether President Arroyo would indeed step down from office in 2010. After all, she can say one thing and do the exact opposite like she did in 2004 when she turned her back on her pledge not to run for President then.

As she herself had said, one must do what one needs to do. A word of caution, though. She must read the handwritings on the wall, as can be seen from the multitude of people who had rallied in many parts of the country to denounce her as she was delivering her SONA.

No ifs, no buts, she has to step down from the presidency next year.

On What about the OFWs with HIV?

President Arroyo, as usual, gave OFWs a pat in the back during her last SONA, saying their billions of dollars in remittances each year, along with direct foreign investments, had doubled the country's foreign exchange reserves while strengthening the peso. But let's do a reality check. The National Epidemiology Center had reported that the majority of new cases of HIV infections, which saw an increase to 362 in the first six months of 2009 from the 244 cases during the same period last year, came from the OFW sector.

What has the government done for those infected by HIV, the deadly virus that causes AIDS? What has the administration done in helping our people, especially OFWs, gain the right information on how they can protect themselves from HIV infection? HIV infection is just one of many problems being faced by OFWs, which this government had miserably failed to address while treating them like milking cows.

How about the many Filipinos languishing in jails abroad, the thousands more who need repatriation and the millions of ex-OFWs, who feel shortchanged by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the government agency which takes billions of pesos in OFW membership fees each year but which had come consistently short in providing the most basic welfare services to OFWs?

News Latest News Feed