Aquino on poverty: PH cannot become rich 'overnight'
MANILA, Philippines – Amid criticisms of his supposed failure to end poverty, outgoing President Benigno Aquino III said the Philippines could not become a rich country overnight.
Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption and anti-poverty campaign in 2010, said it takes long-term solutions to address the decades-long issue of poverty among Filipinos.
In an interview with Rappler, the President recalled repeatedly getting questions on why poverty still exists even after his 6-year term.
“There was another interview, they asked, ‘You had the courage to invest long-term in education, something that doesn’t produce results until the next quarter. Why did you do that?' Another way of asking that question is: I promised if there's no corrupt, no one will be poor. Bakit may mahirap pa rin ngayon? (Why are there still poor people until now?)” Aquino recounted.
But for the President, the answer is simple – a complex and long-standing issue such as poverty could not be eliminated in an instant.
“So I had to ask the people who ask me that – it’s becoming a stock question – if yesterday you were poor, how do you become rich today? Unless you steal?” he said.
Aquino mentioned the same thing in an interview with state-run RTVM on Friday, June 10.
“O poverty reduction, iba-ibang media outlets, nagtanong sa akin, bakit ho may mahirap pa? So tinanong ko: Paano ba, mahirap ‘tong araw na ‘to, bukas mayaman? Maliban sa kung magnanakaw ka ng limpak-limpak, di ka siguro puwede overnight mayaman,” he said.
(Poverty reduction, different media outlets asked me, 'Why are there still poor people?' So I asked: How? You're poor today, tomorrow you're rich? Unless you steal a huge amount of money, you would not get rich overnight.)
Capacitate vs trickle down effect
One of the criticisms against the Aquino administration is its failure to make the poor feel the country's economic gains – something that the President himself is aware of.
This is why, he said, the government has decided to let go of it and focus on “capacitating” Filipinos instead. Aquino said he is building for the long haul and not just adopting a short-term vision.
“Other portion of that is, it hasn’t trickled down. That’s why we abandoned trickle down. The whole idea is to capacitate them so that they can join the economic growth at the earliest possible time,” Aquino said.
The “9 million graduates” from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the creation of 185,000 classrooms, Aquino said, proved that the goal of enabling Filipinos was successful.
“So again, how do you say we’re on the right track when you cannot demonstrate results for those who look at it at a short-term basis?” Aquino asked.
The outgoing President said 4.6 million households are beneficiaries of the administration's vaunted Conditional Cash Transfer program, which along with other anti-poverty measures, aims to break intergenerational poverty. – Rappler.com