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FIRING LINE: An insult to the poor

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

I count myself among those supporting the call of former finance undersecretary Cielo Magno for the ax to fall on Presidential Adviser for Poverty Alleviation Larry Gadon. By his statements, in a recent interview, he gave no hint that addressing poverty is a pressing need — saying that those who criticize the President for widespread poverty are just speculating. Haka-haka lang daw!

Gadon’s nerve to claim Filipinos aren’t poor based on mall goers and car sales is laughable and infuriating. It’s summer and El Niño season — of course, people flock to malls to escape the heat, not to flaunt wealth.

His assertion is as flimsy as it is outrageous, especially when he admits poverty is at 23.4%.

This blatant disregard for the reality of struggling Filipinos exemplifies his detachment; it’s an insult to the poor. Instead of spewing nonsense, maybe Gadon’s salary should be distributed to the poor — at least then our taxes would serve a purpose.

Claiming poverty is mere speculation while the nation grapples with hardship is pure ignorance or feigning ignorance. Either way, it’s a slap in the face of every Filipino fighting to make ends meet. 

President Bongbong or maybe Madam First Lady Liza, please replace this unfunny comic; unless this is the exact reflection of how you view the poor.

Senate betrayed?

If I didn’t believe it then, I believe it now that crocodile tears do fall – and from stone no less. Ah, let’s not confuse Sen. Bato dela Rosa’s weeping in the face of betrayed colleague Sen. Migz Zubiri’s speech on Monday. I’m simply referring to Himalayan salt rocks, shedding peachy crystallized tears of salt.

But since we already mentioned that rigodon at the Senate: Ouch! I can feel Zubiri’s pain.

Of all the good Zubiri has done for the august body, it was his principles that did him in, so he claims.

Betrayed by many of his colleagues, Zubiri’s ouster is a sad reminder of how deeply entrenched power plays are in our brand of Philippine politics.

For all his good qualities, new Senate President Chiz Escudero — because he orchestrated Zubiri’s removal through a backroom deal — displays bad optics for the Senate. 

The betrayal of the 15 – especially Sen. Bato, whose hearings painted the President in a bad light — is not just personal; it’s turning one’s back to the tradition and principles of an independent Senate. It’s a black eye for every Filipino who believes their elected senators best serve the public interest because they are above parochial politics and presidential control.

What loyalty to the supreme public good can we expect now from Chiz and his 15 co-minded horde? What if this power grab is not about the nation’s welfare, but kowtowing to “the powers that be”?

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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