“Is this Wang-Wang Two?”, some people ask. The query masks deeper concerns that anchor Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s most recent memo-circular.
Don’t plaster your names — or mug shots — on Government’s Conditional Cash Transfer projects, Robredo reminded local government officials. Otherwise known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, CCT provides direct help to the poorest.
In 2012, President Benigno Aquino proposes to pump P49.2 billion into this center piece program. Cash transfer are made directly to poorest families. In return, the families commit to keep children in school and undertake health checks.
Do we really grasp the desperate straits of the country’s poor? We know the “stats” by rote.
Poverty incidence exceeds 33 percent, we say. Thus, only six out of 10 kids tip the scales for normal weight-for-age standards. Over 162 mothers die in every 100,000 live births. Only 70 percent of students, who enroll in Grade 1, make it to Grade 6. And one in five kids, between 6 11 years of age, are not in school.
Thus, the country lags in meeting 2015 Millennium Development Goal targets. The gaps are in key areas: universal primary education, maternal mortality, and access to reproductive health services.
Few of us really sense the pain in the cold data of men and women deprived. . “Who made him dead to rapture and despair?, Edwin Markham wrote. “A thing that grieves not and that never hopes… Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
`Government sold the poor short. In the twilight of the Arroyo regime, “national government spending on social services was only 5.9% of gross domestic product”., Asian Development Bank notes Spending on social protection dipped even lower to only 1.2%”,
These crumbs were “further compromised by weak targeting systems to identify beneficiaries and high leakages to the non-poor.” Escalating food prices whittled down by over 9 percent average standard of living . Severity of poverty doubled in the absence of appropriate safety nets…
Both World Bank and Asian Development Bank support President Aquino’ CCT program, now in it’s second year. Robredo has moved to insulate this program further from deeply-engrained self-aggrandizement practices of politicians..
“It was sickening”, wrote Rolly Espina of Visayan Daily Star. “Earthquake victims in Guihulngan, Jimalalud, Tayasan, and La Libertad lined for relief items bearing the slogan of Governor Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental… President Aquino Vice President Jejomar Binay and Red Cross Governor Migz Zubiri appeal ed to politicians not to fight for the credit …”
Scores of poiticians posters still dot Zamboanga del Norte or Davao del Sur, among others. Reform is the last thing in many politicians’ minds.
Senate Bill 1967, filed by of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago if approved, would become an “Anti-Epal Law”. These provide penal sanctions for horn-tooting by politicians. Until then,”we cannot sanction them,” Robredo said. “ But we can rip the streamers that have their names and photos.”
President Aquino set the pattern on Day One of his administration.. “Enroute to take his oath, as the Republic’s 15th president, Benigno Aquino III yanked the plug on his car’s wang-wang, this column noted in “Contrast Tutorials” (Sept 27,2010,) . “That silenced car sirens of politicians elsewhere.
“Convoys of Ampatuan warlords would “wang-wang” citizens aside when they barreled through Maguindanao’s rutted streets. They’ve stopped. “Example moves the world more than doctrine”, says author Henry Miller.
In his first State of the Nation message, Aquino deployed the wang-wang as symbol for a mindset of privilege. “Utak wang wang”, he said gouges a people of wealth — and worse of values. .
That theme resonates today in the impeachment of Supreme Court chief Justice Renato Corona. “ We’ve had hints as to the Chief Justice’s character, “Inquirer’s Rina Jimenez David wrote.
One is his penchant for special treatment, whether it be a doctoral degree “summa cum laude” without putting in the requisite academic work or appointment as Chief Justice even it fractured the Constitution.
Will we find out later about his using power to sway decisions of high court colleagues?, Jimenez David wonders. For now, we have stories about his use of power to prevail over his wife’s family members — what P-Noy calls the “wang-wang mentality”.
Political theorist Hannah Arendt calls normalizing of the unthinkable the “banality of evil.” Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann ensured that “cobblestones, which paved the path to Auschwitz’s gas chambers,where six million died, were perfectly scrubbed.” And are Mr Corona’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities equally polished?