DIRE poverty on a massive scale is clearly our number one problem, not human rights. The problem is one of human rights only in the sense that poverty is the result of people being systemically barred from accessing their fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
(The two main obstacles to a solution are the gaping partisan divide I am treating in today’s column and the good Filipino’s indifference I will treat in the next.)
Why then is there excessive clamor to stop drug war-related rights violations but merely a whimper to eradicate poverty which wastes the lives of more Filipinos than the drug war ever will? Why do the party in power and the party or parties out of power not close ranks and bridge the partisan gap to fight off poverty instead?
The reason is simple. The party in power and the party or parties not in power are really factions of one and the same party of the oligarchy that take turns controlling the economy. As such, the top priority problem of one is how to stay in power to reap its economic benefits while that of the other or others is how to get back into power and regain its privileges.
Hence, those not in power look for the most likely issue to stir people’s emotions towards voting for them in the next election. Drug war-related human rights violations, not poverty, happen to be the most dramatic and emotionally charged issue to use against those in power.
Mass poverty, however, is systemic or inherent in the inequitable economic system society’s elite controls. The solution, therefore, is a new constitution that guarantees proportionate representation in government to all sectors of society to give the marginalized a say on how to rid the system of inherent inequalities.
Only the marginalized sector can advocate for such a drastic economic change. Merely convening congress into a constituent assembly would result only in self-serving economic and political tweaks or patchwork. Oligarchs who populate congress will definitely bar changes that erode their exclusive control of the country’s economy and politics.
Meaningful (to the poor) constitutional provisions can only come about through a constitutional assembly whose delegates are chosen by the people. Like only delegates of the marginalized sector can insert an enabling provision for the formation of a genuine people’s party.
If the partisan divide stays between factions of the oligarchy, the problem of poverty will never be solved as the interests of those factions converge on maintaining control of the country’s economy. It is only when the divide is between one united people’s party and factions of the oligarchy that the problem of poverty will finally be addressed.