Close ever-widening gap between rich and poor, Romualdez urges

Squatter village around Pasig area Manila Philippines.

THE Philippines must aim for inclusive growth, not  growth that widens the gap between the rich and the poor, according to senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez.

The Leyte lawmaker issued this statement today following the release of data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that the income growth of the richest Filipinos, or those at the top 10 percent of the income bracket, is 11.35 times more than that earned by the poorest, or the bottom 10 percent.

“We must reduce income inequality in this country and accelerate poverty reduction as part of sustainable development efforts,” Romualdez said. “The next administration should hit the ground running and strive to create and more jobs in the next six years,” he pointed out.

The National Economic Development Administration (NEDA) has said there have been improvements in poverty reduction nationwide to 26.3 percent in the first semester of 2015, from 27.9 percent in the same period of 2012.

This is due largely due to the expansion of the government’s social services spending, most notably the Conditional Cash-Transfer (CCT) Program.

The CCT Program, also known as the Pantawid Pamil¬yang Pilipino Program (4Ps), has increased its budget by more than 500 percent since 2010, and now covers more than 4 million beneficiary households from only 630,000 in 2009.

Romualdez has vowed to continue the CCT program to help the poorest of the poor cope with daily survival, but emphasized that creating employment should go hand-in-hand with the dole-out program.

The lawmaker said that if elected to the Senate, he would craft legislation that would bring development to the poorest regions, including Region 8 or Eastern Visayas, where poverty incidence has been on the rise since 2006.

Poverty incidence in Region 8 increased to 47.3 percent in the first semester of 2015, from 45.4 percent in 2012; 43.8 percent in 2009; and 41.4 percent in 2006, according to NEDA. Romualdez is seeking a Senate seat on a platform of compassionate leadership with employment generation among his priorities.