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PIA Press Release

Cebu supports PGMA's anti-poverty programs

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu City (22 November) -- Cebu Provincial Board members Agnes Magpale and Victor Maambong filed a resolution supporting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Plan," in the wake of the latest SWS survey that says 2.9 million Filipinos are hungry.

Magpale and Maambong said, "in support to PGMA's anti-poverty programs, it is necessary for the government to continue to fund projects that include barangay food terminals; Tindahan Natin; encouraged family farms; construct more farm-to-market roads and irrigation systems; distribute fish cages and cold storage facilities to fishermen; Carabao and poultry to farmers for a continuous supply of food in the market."

The two local legislators are hopeful that with the above priority projects, the numbers of hungry Filipinos will decrease. The resolution will be sent to the Office of the President, Dept. of Agriculture and the NEDA for their information.

Meantime, Cabinet secretary Ricardo Saludo said today that contrary to the statement of a survey firm head, the poor have been benefiting from the nearly six years of unbroken economic expansion under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2006.

Saludo, in a statement cited statistics to debunk claims that whatever gains made by the government under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are not trickling down the masses. "These gains for low-income families can be seen even from the survey firm's own data," he said.

In the firm's September survey, Saludo pointed out that self-rated poverty (SRP) fell eight percentage points nationwide, helped no doubt, he said, by the economy's continuing expansion. "The average SRP under President Arroyo from 2001 to 2006 is the lowest among presidents in the past two decades," he stressed.

Per survey date, average SRP under the present administration was only 57.3 percent compared to 63.4 percent during the time of President Corazon Aquino, 62.2 percent under President Fidel V. Ramos, and 59.6 percent during the term of President Joseph Estrada.

Other indicators pointed out by Saludo showed rising incomes and a better life for the poor since 2001. "In the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, poor families reported significant improvements between 1999 and 2001 in employment for household heads, children in school, health insurance, access to electricity, and membership in people's organizations, among other areas," he said.

The Cabinet Secretary noted too the United Nations commendation of Philippine efforts in its 14 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which, he said, would help eliminate extreme poverty worldwide. "The country is making strong gains on nine MDGs, satisfactory achievements on three, and slow progress on three others," he said.

While admitting that more efforts are needed to bring the bounties of growth to areas and sectors not yet benefiting from the economic gains, Saludo said the government is increasing infrastructure and social services spending at double-digit rates every year and channeling much of it to less endowed regions.

"Moreover, the government is redoubling efforts to address hunger, through food assistance, low-cost barangay stores, livelihood programs, emergency employment, and intensified food production, including family plots. The government aims to cut by half the incidence of severe hunger within a year," he stressed. (PIA) [top]

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