A columnist (not of this paper) was right to claim that President Duterte’s epic fail was to wage war against the drug menace and not against the country’s core problem of poverty. He was, however, wrong to imply that only Duterte failed on that score.
The fact of the matter is that not waging an-honest-to-goodness war against poverty has been the epic fail of all past and present Presidents. None of them has really waged war against the social evil of poverty. Otherwise, why are we going at a snail’s pace and being passed by Asean neighbors on the road to economic prosperity?
Many nations have historically proven that a successful war against poverty requires the execution of a two-pronged attack. One prong is genuine land reform. The other is industrialization.
Without genuine land reform, our farmers remain poor. Many farmer beneficiaries have sold their newly-acquired land at the onset of a family emergency or at the first failed harvest for lack of the hard and soft infrastructure support government should provide in a genuine land reform program.
Without industrialization this country will never have enough jobs for all its workers. Domestic monopoly capitalists, to maintain profitability levels, are content to make up with low wages to their workers for the inadequacy of their capital and the inability of their outdated technology to expand and cut costs.
But no President has implemented a genuine land reform program because they all belonged to landed families or have had their political career underwritten by big landlords.
Neither has any President made a significant move towards industrialization. They simply could not buck the oligarchy’s insistence (by refusing to revise the pertinent constitutional provision) that foreign investors must have minority shares in business ventures they help capitalize. That, of course, douses cold water on foreign capital’s interest to invest in ambitious high-technology ventures.
Thus, it is not surprising that those priming to run for President are promising anything but poverty eradication. 1Sambayan is for press freedom and West Philippine Sea sovereignty. PDP-Laban wants more of Duterte. Country lovers Lacson and Sotto just want a balanced and more realistic budget. Pacquiao is running to eradicate corruption which, like the drug war, is a mere aggravation and not the root cause of poverty.
We languish in poverty’s prison cell because oligarchs, and those who want to join their ranks, run for office to maintain control of a system that works exclusively in their favor. They do not run to implement a genuine land reform program and industrialize our economy. In short, they run for anything but the eradication of poverty.