Dole-outs

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Saturday, June 14, 2014


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has just vetoed the ordinance granting annual cash aid to solo parents in the city. I laud the mayor’s move though I do not necessarily share his reasons for not wanting this ordinance passed.

In general, I am against any ordinance granting any kind of regular dole-out to anyone in the community except to the elderly and the permanently disabled. While the proponents of the ordinance for annual assistance to solo parents may have had the best of intentions, I believe such ordinance will only succeed in making Filipinos lazy and dependent on the government for assistance.

While I am not against dole-outs during calamities and other emergency situations, I don’t feel that “regular dole-outs” can actually promote hard work, independence or self-reliance.

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Take the case of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, more popularly known as the 4Ps. This conditional cash transfer program of the government operated under the Department of Social Welfare & Development means well but will it really succeed in eradicating poverty?

What is happening today with the 4Ps? Many among the poorest of the poor are going on early retirement from farming and from their employment as maids, houseboys, laundry women and gardeners, because they believe that the conditional cash transfer of the government can sustain their daily needs.

We have 35-40 year olds retiring because they say they don’t need to work because of the 4Ps. The 4Ps is now being utilized as a cash cow by those who see it as an easy way out of poverty. The program is not encouraging the poorest of the poor to acquire skills, seek jobs or find livelihoods to lift their families out of poverty. Instead, it is promoting a lackadaisical and irresponsible attitude towards the future and nurturing a deep dependency on the government.

I’m not saying that no one has benefited from the 4Ps but is this how we want the benefit to trickle down to the poorest of the poor? We want to alleviate poverty and if possible, eradicate it but I don’t believe we should do it through dole-outs. Dole-outs don’t exactly engender dignity, only dependency.

Why must we pay parents so they will submit to pre and post-natal care, feed their kids, have their kids immunized, send their kids to school? We are not promoting maturity. Neither are we promoting responsible parenthood by paying parents to comply with what responsible and loving parents should normally do on their own anyway without prodding or payment from government.

In recognition of abject poverty, the role of government should be provider of free health care services and COMPLETELY FREE education. And this means parents should NOT have to pay for uniforms, books, school supplies, field trips, special projects, graduation exercises and any other school activities.

To eradicate poverty in our country, we need to get the poorest of the poor, educated, trained, employed and earning a decent living. We can’t eradicate poverty by continuously giving dole-outs. Dole-outs promote dependency. They enfeeble rather than empower Filipinos in the long-run.

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(Email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 15, 2014.

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