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Prioritizing the underprivileged

December 21, 2021 Mario Fetalino Jr. 306 views

Mario FetalinoIT’S easy to complain about so many things brought by the pandemic. At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us frowned about the closure of malls and resorts while others were saddened by the restrictions against travel.

For a time, some forgot a lot of our countrymen had bigger and more serious problems even before the pandemic struck. They were already fighting poverty when the virus came. One can only imagine how they dealt with the crisis.

And so it’s good to know the poor will be the focus of the government as the country recovers from the pandemic.

The government achieved four years ahead, or in 2018, the 2022 poverty goal of lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty, according to the Economic Planning Secretary Kendrick Chua.

While hitting its target early, the government continued to implement reform programs like the social protection program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to further uplift Filipinos’ lives.

The results of the game-changing reforms are clear. Prior to the pandemic, economic growth averaged six percent, inflation averaged three percent, and the rates of poverty and unemployment were at record lows.

But the pandemic hit and this hurt the gains the government achieved early on. Chua, also the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chief, said this will be addressed by the strengthened implementation of the programs towards achieving a more inclusive economy.

The government will also improve social protection programs to support the vulnerable. To this end, the state accelerated the implementation of the PhilSys or the national ID program to provide every Filipino with a unique and digitalized proof of identity.

As of December 10, 50 million Filipinos have been registered for the national ID program and around 6.7 million were able to open bank accounts.

A fully digital ID will allow the government to more efficiently implement social protection programs and directly disburse funds to the beneficiaries.

“We end this year on track to an early recovery. Our growth prospects are encouraging. As we collectively strive towards our 2040 vision, the poor will be at the center of our recovery and development strategy. No one will be left behind,” Chua said.

Signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in August 2018, Republic Act 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, aims to establish a single national ID for all Filipinos and resident aliens.

The national ID shall be a valid proof of identity that shall be a means of simplifying public and private transactions, enrollment in schools, and the opening of bank accounts.

It also seeks to boost efficiency, especially in dealing with government agencies where people will only need to present one ID during transactions.

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San Miguel Corporation has activated its network in the Visayas and Mindanao regions to deliver truckloads of food to Odette-hit areas.

This, as the company dispatches fuel stocks at its Petron installations and, where possible, provide access to water at its affected manufacturing facilities to help fenceline communities.

SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon S. Ang said the company had, over the weekend, coordinated with various local government units to immediately extend aid to stricken cities and communities, with its donations reaching P30 million as of December 20.

Among the provinces SMC has been sending food donations to are: Antique, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, Bacolod, Bohol, Biliran, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Cebu, Dinagat island, Davao del Sur, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Marinduque, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Siquijor, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Tagoloan.

“We are one with all our countrymen who were affected by the recent typhoon. There’s a lot of things that are needed right now; we want to help make sure that basic food is covered. We will continue to assess the situation in the coming days and weeks and find more ways to help,” said Ang.

He added that following last week’s typhoon, the company, through its San Miguel Foundation, had immediately mobilized available resources from its facilities in the Visayas region and nearby provinces as well as Luzon, in order to bring immediate relief to some provinces.

SMC has since mustered more resources, including an additional donation of 10 truckloads of assorted food products, worth almost P20 million.

In Mandaue, Cebu, Ang said that the San Miguel Brewery facility has opened its Henan Cortes water station to the public, providing water for free from 8am to 5-pm daily. While the water is not potable, it may be used for washing and other purposes, as water access in the area is still limited.

Fuel subsidiary Petron is also set to donate food products to some 3,700 families in its fence line communities in Mandaue and Mactan, Cebu.

In Bohol, where fuel stocks had run low, Petron has sent fresh stocks of fuel, as Ang assured other provinces needing fuel that the company will work to make sure their requirements will be met.

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