Policymakers are to blame why throngs of poor and sick people opt to seek deliverance from the Black Nazarene at Luneta and Quiapo Church rather than flock to hospitals for regular medical treatment, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.
The group said that besides the yearly observance of this centuries-old tradition, the devotees’ main concerns for keeping the faith revolve around their plea to relieve them from serious illness and lift them out of poverty.
“Policymakers should look at this phenomenon in a more political rather than in purely religious sense. It’s failure of polices and governance. When poor people are afraid of hospitals because of high cost, their traditional option is to look for divine and non-discriminating sponsors in the likes of the Black Nazarene and other saints,” said PM.
The group pointed out that while faith and deliverance is a personal devotion to the Creator, quality healthcare, employment and other aspects of good life are the State’s social and moral obligation to its people.
Along this line PM chided lawmakers for making noise about their constituents having problems in availing the ‘pork’ they have realigned to different agencies.
Earlier Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga complained against the lack of guidelines from government agencies on how former pork beneficiaries can have access to the services they previously enjoy.
“The problem is that lawmakers merely realigned their PDAF to line agencies without putting in place a universal system in delivering social services, creating in effect administrative gridlocks because politicized and discretionary parts of the budget remain,” said PM.
The group had pushed for the creation of a universal social protection fund in place of the pork barrel system during the height of the anti-pork barrel campaign last year, adding that the terms ‘pork scholars’ and ‘medical assistance’ should have been replaced now by ‘state scholars’ and ‘universal healthcare’.
PM explained further that the United Nations (UN) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have been pushing for ‘universalisation’ in place of the ‘targeting system’ in the provision of social services because it is administratively less costly, inclusive, and more empowering when they become legal entitlements based on people’s needs and not the ability to pay.
The group warned lawmakers not to exploit the frustrations of the masses to smuggle in a plan to reconstitute their PDAF.