Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 6 March 17 - 23, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Provide for Family of Six as of February 2002:
Poverty exists not as a result of personal indolence but as an offshoot of structural infirmities perpetuated by the powers-that-be. Even the most conventional economic planners admit that development has a price. The question, however, is why do poor people always have to pay for it? Bulatlat.com quantifies the reality of poverty and deprivation through its latest computations of cost of living in Metro Manila.
DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s recent moves to endear herself to the poor miserably fail to mask the reality of poverty and deprivation in the country. A day of doling out packs of rice and other goodies among urban poor communities in Metro Manila cannot compensate for the year-long hunger pangs experienced by millions of residents. Beyond the land titles allegedly distributed to the homeless – a ritual the president does whenever rumors of a coup allegedly plotted by the Estrada camp percolate - is the bigger picture of low wages and high cost of living.
What use is a piece of land for those without a future to look forward to? Selling this new property – if indeed land titles that were distributed are real - may temporarily solve current financial woes, but what happens thereafter when the “gloria” (glory; pun intended) runs out?
Indeed, Bulatlat.com computations show that as of February 2002, a family of six in Metro Manila needs P525.61 ($10.32, based on an exchange rate of P50.92 per US dollar) to fulfill food and nonfood needs in one day. It may be recalled that a P15-increase ($0.29) effective that month only resulted in a P280 ($5.50) daily minimum wage rate for workers in Metro Manila – an amount which can fulfill only 50 percent of the daily basic requirements. (See Table) But even the labor admitted has admitted that most companies in Metro Manila and the rest of the country violate the minimum wage rate set by regional wage boards.
Computed on a monthly basis, this means that a minimum wage earner needs P9,608.30 ($188.69) more to fulfill his or her family’s needs. Even if both parents work, their daily earnings will not match the high cost of living pegged at P15,768.30 ($309.67) as of February 2002.
Cash-strapped parents must look for other sources of income and/or credit lest their children are forced to help augment the monthly family income by dropping out of school in order to work.
The disparity between wages and cost of living did not quantitatively change through the years. Computations made by Bulatlat.com show that it has even doubled since January 2000 or in just two years. (See Table)
Compared to January 2000 figures, the disparity between wages and cost of living ranged from P520.40 or $10.22 (Jan 2001) to P973.10 or $19.11 (Jan 2002).
Dos (a.k.a. People Power 2) in January 2001 may have seen the downfall of a
discredited Estrada administration, but the Macapagal-Arroyo administration
hardly made a dent in increasing the wages of Filipino workers. In the context
of cost of living, the regime has also miserably failed to nip in the bud
continued increases in the prices of basic goods and services.
This situation may explain why the President does not trumpet the P15-increase ($0.29) in the minimum wage of Metro Manila workers last November 2001, and another P15 ($0.29) hike last February 2002. As an urban poor leader put it succinctly, P15 ($0.29) can even hardly buy a kilo of rice. Bulatlat.com