IN THE Philippine Star August 21 issue is a news report quoting a World Bank study that says, "Productivity among Philippine farms has stagnated over 30 years due to falling investments in public infrastructure such as irrigation..."
I told you so; to those of you who have been reading this column for the past couple of years, that statement is a good summary of what I've saying all along.
In my article entitled, "We can't eat roads and bridges" (Sun.Star Davao, January 18, 2010), I commented that the strategy of the GMA administration to pour in huge investments in roads and bridges over the years to the detriment of investments in rural infrastructures like irrigation has caused the food security of the country to be insecure and the rural poor--who constitute the vast majority of the poor in this country--to continue wallowing in poverty.
What did Gov. Salceda, GMA's economic adviser observe? Under GMA's term, the rich have become much richer, while the poor have become more in number.
When you're running a government, you'll have a thousand and one competing concerns. That is why it's important to conceptualize a big picture of what you intend to do -- your broad vision, mission, goals and objectives -- so you don't get lost in the small details of day-to-day governance.
I believe that one of the most important missions of any third-world government is poverty reduction. The first thing one does is to identify where the poverty incidence is most prevalent. And from there, plan and implement the most appropriate interventions.
Government statistics show that most of the country's poor are in the rural areas. So, obviously, that's where a vast amount of the government's development efforts should go. What kinds of government projects will directly bring economic benefit to the barangays? Irrigation, post-harvest facilities, farm-to-market roads, domestic water supply, rural electrification, crop production credits, micro-enterprise development, to name a few.
Furthermore, the civil works projects should be undertaken by labor-intensive methods to maximize the benefit of the rural communities. For example, excavations should be done manually by local labor, instead of using backhoes.
I sincerely hope that the new administration will have its priorities right.
Attention PLDT: The PLDT mobile phone service has deteriorated lately. Sometimes I have to re-dial 4 or 5 times before the call gets through. What does the computer say? "The number you are dialing is not valid" or something to that effect. For a while, I thought the problem is with my cell phone. But then I started hearing the same complaint from my friends.
Furthermore, when we are outside of Davao City, we can't get through when we call to a Bayantel phone in Davao. Take note: when we were still inquiring about the service before, the PLDT people said we can call ANY Davao phone number from anywhere in the Philippines toll-free.
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