Pacquiao’s, govt’s inaction to address inequality “pinakamasahol,” says DIGNIDAD
Groups advancing social protection hit Senatorial candidate Manny Pacquiao’s derogatory remarks against LGBTs, calling him and the country’s leaders “pinakamasahol” for not lifting a finger against the disparate inequality in Philippine society while they sit in Congress and Executive posts.
“Rep. Manny Pacquiao should know that this prevailing system of inequality, that has gotten worse over the years, is even more oppressive to LGBTs due to discrimination and homophobia,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, DIGNIDAD co-convener and lead convener of Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay or KAMP.
“He insults the LGBTs for his uninformed remarks and insults the Filipino for daring to run as Senator having been an absentee House Representative with no significant bills filed,” she said.
Senatorial candidate Walden Bello, a champion of DIGNIDAD as well as Rep. Pacquiao’s colleague in Congress has earlier said that “Manny Pacquiao is a great boxer but his views on gender equality belong to the distant past. But aside from his views, can people really entertain voting for a person who holds the House of Representative’s highest record for non-attendance in the16th Congress? Manny is a nice guy, but I wish he had attended at least one session of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs of which he was Vice Chair and I was Chair. I really needed him to take on some of my heavy load but he was nowhere to be found.”
DIGNIDAD, a newly-established alliance of social movements calling for candidates to adopt transformative social protection measures, challenged the Senatorial aspirant to lay down his proposals and platform on how to correct the current inequality in the country where the top 10 of the Philippines’ richest have a net worth of nearly 50 billion US dollars while poverty incidence according to government statistics is 25% of the population.
“Government statistics show that one out of four Filipinos live in poverty and the situation has remained the same for the last two decades or so. However, if the ridiculous official poverty threshold of roughly over P50 a day per capita is raised to at least P100 a day, half of the population shall automatically be classified as poor”, said Dr. Ed Tadem, DIGNIDAD co-convener and President of the Freedom from Debt Coalition
“As candidates offering themselves to the public, what do they plan to do about this?” he asked.
Particularly, DIGNIDAD wants Pacquiao as well as other Congressional, presidential and vice-presidential candidates to clarify his stand regarding the country’s outstanding debt and the Marcosian policy of automatic debt appropriations that have severely constrained government spending for vital social services and that is among the factors for widening inequality.
According to FDC figures, the country’s outstanding debt totals PhP 5.95 trillion. And 29.77% of the country’s total budget or PhP 776 billion goes to debt servicing (interest and amortization), which could have been spent to build roads, schools, classrooms and funded low-cost housing, health care including reproductive health measures and support to farmers, among others.
DIGNIDAD pointed to the Constitutional command to “give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good”
“The government violated the Constitution many times over by sticking to a Marcosian law guaranteeing foreign and domestic creditors automatic debt servicing (payment for interest and capital), which at certain years in the 1990s and 2000s ate up half of the national budgetary allocations. These debt payments and other government expenditures are taken from socially regressive taxes such as the VAT imposed on basic goods and services consumed by all, rich and poor alike,” Dr. Tadem said.
“As a lawmaker with the so-called heart for the poor, will Rep. Pacquiao and the other Presidential candidates support the call for repealing this unjust law?,” Dr. Tadem dared.
Dr. Tadem challenged Rep. Pacquiao and other candidates particularly the presidentiables to “commit to adopting social protection measures that would ensure a life with dignity for all, including the LGBTs, which he says he doesn’t condemn.”
Against a background of worsening poverty and deepening inequality, DIGNIDAD calls on other electables for immediate social redistribution of wealth, resources, benefits, and privileges, to fulfil the social and economic rights of the people in order to live a life of dignity. These people’s proposals must be legislated, with constitutional support, institutionalised nationwide, and universalized to guarantee all Filipinos access to these necessities in life. These are: 1) Decent Work and Livelihood; 2) Decent and Affordable Housing, 3) Free and Quality Health Care; 4) Safe and Reliable Public Transport; 5) Free Education up to the Tertiary Level; 6) Living Pensions for all Senior Citizens and income support to persons with disabilities, unemployed, and calamity victims.
DIGNIDAD members: AKBAYANlAlab KatipunanlArya Progresibo (ARYA)lAting GurolCoalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) lFreedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) lHomeNet PhilippineslInstitute for Popular Democracy (IPD)lIntegrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF)lKatipunang Bagong Pilipina (KABAPA)lKilos Maralita (KM) lKILUSANlKampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) lMetro Manila Vendors AlliancelPambansangTagapag-ugnay ng mga Manggagawa sa Bahay (PATAMABA) lPambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan saKananayunan (PKKK) lPartidoManggagawa (PM) l Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)lSANLAKASl Sarilayal SENTROl UmalabKal WomanHealth Philippinesland numerous sectoral and community-based networks. DIGNIDAD is part of the regional Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP) in Asia that advances an Agenda for a Social ASEAN.
Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat
c/o 85-B Masikap St. Extension, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City | Tel.# 7097833/7097844
February 14, 2016
Contacts: DIGNIDAD Media Liaison Officer Don Pangan (mobile: 09233250192)
Malu A. Mendoza (FDC) – 0932-8726168
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