2010 Elections: Jobs, Agrarian Reform, Housing and Social Services Top Urban Poor Electoral Agenda

The report added that one out of three jobs are merely part-time work, 6.6 million Filipinos are underemployed (employed but still looking for more work and income) and the number of working children aged 5-17 years old number 2.7 million.

Aside from the lack of jobs, the problem confronting the urban poor is how to earn a decent salary that could provide for the needs of a Filipino family. The minimum wage in the National Capital Region has long been pegged at P382 ($8.488) when the government’s own family living wage estimate is P917 ($20.37), in NCR. Since 1998, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno and other progressive groups and partylist groups have been proposing for a P125 ($2.777) daily wage increase.

But the said legislated wage hike has been ignored by the Arroyo administration since she was put into power in 2001. Worse, while the salary remains stagnant, prices of basic necessities continues to soar higher and more poor people are being deprived of social services due to continuous privatization policy of the Arroyo administration.

Jon Vincent Marin of Kadamay said the next administration should also ensure access to basic social services like education and health for the urban poor. “As much as possible, these (basic needs) should be free of charge to poor people,” Marin added.

The urban poor group also said they are pushing for a genuine agrarian reform. Kadamay secretary general Bea Arellano said that due to extreme poverty brought about by landlessness in the provinces, most peasants move to cities, fervently hoping to find job opportunities in urban areas, congesting the already crowded urban slum areas.

“The farmers will go back to the rural areas if they are given their own land to till,” Arellano said.

Marin also added that long-term political platforms should be the basis for the choice of the country’s electorate. Aside from land, jobs, a decent salary, and access to social services, the urban poor is also challenging presidential candidates to really address the problem of corruption.

“(We want) Immediate relief for the people, because they have already suffered long enough, especially the urban poor. Also, the government should provide long-term solutions to our problems,” he added. (With reports from Janess Ann J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com )

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