House Committee on Poverty Alleviation Chair and Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Emmi De Jesus raised an alarm over the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing the rise in the number of poor and food-poor Filipinos last December, adding that this highlights the urgency of socio-economic reforms in the upcoming round of peace talks.
Rep. De Jesus noted that the number of self-rated food-poor Filipinos rose by 1 million in just three months, from 6.7 million in September 2016 to 7.7 million December 2016 despite the relative abundance of short-term seasonal jobs during the period.
“Despite annual self-rated poverty hitting a new record low, it is important to note that 1 million more Filipinos considered themselves food-poor during the Christmas month. This figure is expected to rise as family food allocations will be cut further due to the latest round of price hikes,” GWP Rep. De Jesus.
“This is clear proof that the Duterte administration’s continued adherence to neoliberal policies – specifically on price deregulation, privatization of utilities, and trade liberalization – is wiping out even loose change in the poor family’s purse. The President should consider pursuing socio-economic reforms instead of recycling the same failed neoliberal thrust,” she added.
Spikes in the prices of oil, LPG and basic commodities greeted Filipino families at the onset of the year while electricity and water rate hikes loom in the coming weeks. New taxes are also being mulled, aside from the pending Social Security System (SSS) premium hike.
De Jesus reiterated Gabriela’s support for the discussion of socio-economic reforms in the third round of peace talks between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) this week in Rome, Italy.
“We sincerely hope that both parties will arrive at an agreement on socio-economic reforms that will uplift the socio-economic status of women through genuine land reform and national industrialization,” De Jesus concluded.
De Jesus said she will also steer her committee into crafting measures that will stop the onslaught of price hikes and address poverty in the long term. For immediate relief, she said the Duterte administration should heed the workers’ call for general wage increase and the implementation of P750-national minimum wage for private sector workers.