Thursday, July 23, 2015

P700/plate for SONA merienda highlights persisting inequality in the country

News Release
July 23, 2015

The menu for merienda and the cost per plate is out in the news.  It’s P700 per plate for 2,750 guests. So perhaps the last State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino is best graded according to this practical subject, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

PM is one of the many groups joining the anti-Sona protests on Monday.

According to PM, food is a good benchmark in measuring poverty and inequality and therefore is a solid indicator on whether inclusive growth had been achieved by the Aquino administration.  Food makes up more than 50% of household expenditure.  And many Filipinos are considered as “food poor.”

In the first semester of 2014, the monthly average food threshold for a family of five is estimated at PhP6,125 and a total of PhP8,778 to cover the non-food requirements.   In other words, a poor family needs at least PhP204 per day or PhP41 per capita to meet their food requirements alone.  Poverty incidence (the measure of population who cannot meet their food and non-food requirements) among Filipinos during this period was estimated at 25.8%, according to the Philippine Statistics authority.

“For lawmakers and VIP guests, the SONA menu for merienda may look ordinary or even cheap. But for a jobless person and for the many families living in subsistence level, a P700/plate merienda made of black angus and shrimp rolls, among others, is lavishly alienating and, of course, insulting,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

This is just for the government side alone, said the group.  The country's Richest 50 got the biggest and juiciest slice of our GDP.

Magtubo, who is a former partylist representative, said workers in sweatshops who earn P200 a day, like in the case of Kentex, can squeeze that PhP700 for a week’s survival.  It can also cover a life liner’s monthly electricity bill of 70 kWh, or at least 25 day of crushing MRT ride.

He added that there are many other issues that can be raised against the failure of the Aquino administration to address the fundamental problems that really block the road towards inclusiveness.  But there is no more time to argue these things in the remaining last two minutes of his term.

“At least here in the P700/plate merienda, the persisting inequality in Philippine society is best understood.  And it will be good for the people to know that for those who will be inside the Batasan Complex on Monday, fine dining is most memorable than listening to PNoy’s last SONA,” concluded Magtubo. ###

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