MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was going experiencing a “pure fantasy” spell boasting that President Rodrigo Duterte has accomplished his campaign promises, except for the pending shift to federalism, opposition leader, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, observed Monday at the House of Representatives.
“It is utter miscommunication and disconnect for Andanar to assert that the problems on poverty, the drug menace, corruption and peace and order have been solved,” Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said.
Lagman questioned Andanar’s source of information for the claim that the annual nationwide incidence of poverty of 21.6 percent in 2015 has been reduced to a “tolerable level” during the first year and a half of the Duterte administration.
This, Lagman pointed out, does not reflect the living conditions in Lanao del Sur, in which an estimated 74.3% of residents lived below the poverty threshold in 2015 from 44 percent in 2006, as reported by the Family Income Expenditure Survey.
“The Marawi armed conflict, which devastated Marawi City and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, exacerbated and continues to aggravate the poverty situation,” Lagman said.
The latest SWS survey on self-rated poverty, he said, also revealed that the proportion of Filipino families who considered themselves poor rose in the 3rd quarter of 2017 and also showed rising poverty in Metro Manila and areas of Luzon outside the capital.
According to Lagman, SWS found the ranks of self-rated poor families rising by 3.0% in the July to September 2017 period to 47% from the preceding quarter’s 44%.
Unemployment rate as of 2017 was 5.7%, corresponding to 2.4 million unemployed Filipinos, not considering the 16.1% underemployment rate, which translates to 6.5 million underemployed workers, Lagman added.
The Philippine Statistics Authority defines an underemployed person as one who wants to have additional hours of work in his present job, or an additional job, or a new job with longer working hours.
As for the administration’s banner program to combat drugs, Lagman said, no less than the President had requested several times that he be given more time to solve it, the last of which was on December 5, 2017 when he asked for one more year.
“This indicates that the problem persists even as extrajudicial killings related to the deadly drug campaign continue unabated,” he said.
The extension of martial law in Mindanao for one year showed that the problem of peace and order continued to besiege the Duterte administration, he added.
The endemic traffic mess, he said, continues to hound the National Capital Region, and the commitment of the President to forge separate peace settlements with the communist rebels and the Muslim separatists appears to have been scuttled.
“Serious corruption has not been eliminated; only executives with ‘excessive foreign travels’ are being axed, but high profile graft cases, except vendetta prosecution, remain in perpetual investigation,” Lagman said.