FIRING LINE: A weak grasp of poverty and prices


By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

President Marcos might have painted a rosy picture of the Filipino condition in his State of the Nation Address or SONA last Monday and earned a standing ovation, but the truth cannot be applauded. 

A day before he wowed the crowd at the Batasan Pambansa, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted from June 28 to July 1, revealed the stark reality: A staggering 45% or 12.5 million Filipino families felt poor, with 33% teetering on the edge of poverty.

While there’s a slight improvement since March in terms of self-rated poverty, the numbers remain alarming. The regions bear the weight of this economic struggle, as self-rated poverty decreased by a few percentage points.

It’s disheartening to see how even in Metro Manila, where opportunities supposedly abound, 35% of families continue to suffer. And the self-rated food poverty figures are equally distressing, with 34% of families struggling to put food on the table.

Either the President has been drinking some fantastic Cool Aid, or he flatly lied before the whole nation in saying with a straight face about an improving economy in a country where prices are up, salaries are left behind, and employment is down. 

And he even had the gall to claim that food prices have gone down, among them rice, sugar, meat, fish, and vegetables! That could be real in a world that existed entirely inside a Kadiwa rolling store.

But out here in the town markets, the neighborhood talipapa, and the grocery stores, prices confirm what the consumer price index data reflects: food prices have either risen or remained largely the same over the past few months.

Internet complaints

A Firing Line reader from San Pedro, Laguna, is complaining that the internet and landline connection has been out for three straight days since Saturday.

So to PLDT, it is imperative that you promptly address the dire situation faced by your clients in this area. What’s troubling is the lack of communication and updates from your end, which is unacceptable to your subscribers, who you bill for every day of the month.

As a telecommunications provider, you are responsible for keeping your customers informed and ensuring the swift restoration of essential services. Providing Viber avenues for robotic responses and empty promises is insufficient. Action is what matters.

And while I’m at it, the same goes for SkyCable internet services, which, for the past two weeks, had been out of service for up to 48 hours, if not intermittent, for three straight days in parts of Marikina City and Project 4 in Quezon City.

I understand that — as posted by a friend of mine last July 8 — that repairs had to be conducted because the outage was caused by “cut cable due to vandalism and theft.”

However, more than a week had passed since then. What runaround and vague explanations do you have now for your customers who were off the web just last weekend and, I believe, until last Tuesday for some?

Looking ahead, internet providers should confront the threat of vandals squarely and collaborate with law enforcement to stop this and ensure uninterrupted internet service. 

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