EGALITARIAN| Why I favor 4Ps?

AS A POLICY, it is conditional before cash is transferred. Notably, a poor household need to meet qualifications in order to be listed in this welfare program. The objective is to move the poor household through some monetary support from poverty into a level where there is some degree of freedom, and and must be from hunger. The face of poverty in the country is unique; it is tied up with market inaccessibility, thereby creating a condition of helplessness to meet food needs. Poverty in our country is associated with lack of opportunities, to begin with, lack of right education. The education that makes people thinks of the future. Meantime, there are other forms of poverty; there is food poor, transport poor, gadget poor, information poor, housing poor, and household utilities poor.

However, it pains me to see that the poor always fall prey to the schemes and tricks of the educated. One classic example is the story of the cacao plantation down south of Davao. There is a vast cacao plantation of a thousand hectares. Back then, at full operation of the company, people huge opportunities for work. And when they work, they earn, they buy goods, they meet their daily needs, and they send children to school. Practically, the poverty back then was only transportation because only 3 households have motorcycles, all the rest were on bicycles.

The company employed a lot of people, invited specialists from as far as Davao del Norte. Volume of workers increased as operations improved. The company able to reach international markets, reached as far as Australia as I heard then during my tender years.

Until ONE DAY, there was a picket. Workers charged the company that they are not getting their fair share. Then on, friendships turned sour; respect forgotten. I observed it myself. My late father was a field supervisor who received bland responses from the very people he brought in for work. Some people, labor group mercenaries, conducted meetings and lectures among the protesting workers. They drew big-bellied managers and supervisors who just boss around; they also drew stickmen representing workers, pale and weak. It was a pep talk so successful that the workers wanted to see the company fall.

The attitude changed. Our place used to have people who are kind and humble, this is the ethnic character of the place. The picket changed it all. They become combative. They stayed long at the picket line, closed the bridges to cause menace to operations.

Workers who decided to show up for work started to loafer around. Some initiated acts which caused the accelerated decline of the company. They pour tons of fertilizers and pesticides at the canal instead of placing them at the thousand cacaos. So, harvest failed, revenue failed. However, the last straw which broke the company was a single mistake of non-remittance of social security dues.That one act which was used by the mercenaries and the conspirators and label it as unfair labor practice. Of course it is always true, but it was a mistake that could have been rectified for the management didn’t know of it then.

The company gave up. It closed shop. The big guys just left the plantation, along with their skills; the specialists found jobs in yet another company. The mercenaries went back from where they came from. The workers were on their own now. To start the new epoch, they formed a cooperative. Each member received an average of less than 2 hectares. The poor who were promised of a share did not qualify, so they received nothing, retreated to the old life they have had before.

In all of the dynamics, the poor workers were at the forefront. Those who stayed in the picket lines were the temporary workers who were promised of a piece of land. When the company shut down, they were the first casualty. They received no more salaries; they did not qualify for beneficiary. They had no food after the company closed down. They went back to hunger; the prevalent condition until the company came.

Fast forward today. The state of economic life become even more discordant. This I observed after visiting last break. The rich become richer; the poor were further flushed down toward insufficiency and helplessness. It is a clear example of pareto condition. Only around 20% of the population experienced improvement in life.

Some stories told, due to poor abilities, harvest was low, so they have to give up farming. They were not ready for farming for food, they were minted for farming for commerce. It was a realization made 20 years after. To support their family, they have to lease rights for a hundred thousand or two. To most households, the amount is beyond repayment. The lease of rights become permanent rights. They are those, some 30 years ago so willing to see the company fail, now they are barely able to support the education of their children, barely able to bring food in the table, barely able to buy new clothes.

Back to my question, why I support the 4Ps? It is the quickest way to demonstrate what life be after losing the qualifications. It is the most effective lesson to teach if the household would not think of their children’s future. In our place, it took them 20 years to realize that life could have been different if the company is still there. Second, the 4Ps is never investment for today’s generation. It is for the next generation. Thus, any judgment done today is only a formative assessment of the operation and never a summative analysis of its impact. The 4Ps aims to make the future better as parents need t have their children ready for school, else they lose their benefits. A support for the children of today through education, proper nutrition, will make them in the future wiser individuals than the current. Where they can decide for themselves, make temporary sacrifice, be never be swayed by drawings and caricatures of bellies and stickmen. Third, the failure of the conditional transfer is never a unique to this country. This is also evident in other countries pursuing a welfare framework. Fourth, at any rate, it is not the beneficiaries who are at the wrong side if the 4Ps seemed to miss the target, it is the institutional arrangement that is so tied up with the current form of government. Knowing that PD30 is plugging the leaks and finding the culprits, it is just appropriate to do business as usual. Just trust that the country is moving towards the right direction. Just trust the driver.

In the end, it is the business of the government to ensure the welfare of the public, if there are just only three households who proved that the 4P is effective, it is already worth my tax. I would not know if the children of these households will become the best leaders in the future where I cannot even imagine.

Posted in Opinion