By Ellson Quismorio
NEW CLARK CITY, Capas, Tarlac – Twenty programs to stamp out poverty in 20 poorest provinces in the country in the year 2020.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Wednesday this will be the focus of the government in aggressively tackling the problem of poverty in the country with a pinpointed “20/20” program involving 20 perennially poor provinces.
“One thing I can announce is that medyo malalim ang pag-uusapan (we will endeavor) to come up with a 20/20 program, meaning the 20 poorest provinces, parati na lang halos sila ang poorest (those who have always been among the poorest), [in] 2020, we want to come up with 20 projects for the 20 poorest,” Cayetano told House reporters in a press conference here.
“For example, [the] conditional cash transfer [program] is working, but [for the] poorest of the poor, we need [an] unconditional cash transfer program,” said Cayetano, who represents Taguig-Pateros in the House.
But the Speaker said the envisioned 20/20 programs would be unique in that they would be “on steroids, so to speak.”
“We will test this in our 20 poorest provinces or a number of the 20 poorest provinces. Kasi hindi naman ata tama na mag-aagawan ng pondo ang buong bansa pero yung poorest of the poor, naiiwanan,” Cayetano said. (It’s not right that, in the tug of war for funds between the country’s districts, the poorest of the poor are always left behind.)
While he didn’t give specifics, Cayetano bared that the government will tap various departments for this coordinated effort.
“So we’re talking to the different agencies, departments [to cooperate with each other], meaning instead of saying, ‘TESDA ito programa namin sa five poorest, DTI ito, programa sa Department of Agriculture,’ ipagsasama natin, ii-integrate natin ang program.” (Instead of saying ‘this is a TESDA program on the five poorest, this is a DTI program, this is a Department of Agriculture program,’ we will combine and integrate the programs.)
President Duterte’s goal is to reduce the country’s poverty incidence to 14 percent in 2022 from the current 21.6 percent. This is equivalent to lifting some six to eight million Filipinos out of poverty.
The 20 poorest provinces in the country are found in Mindanao. These are Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Northern Samar, Saranggani, Sulu, Bukidnon, Siquijor, Zamboanga del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan del Sur, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Catanduanes, North Cotabato, Sorsogon, Occidental Mindoro, and Surigao del Sur.