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Malacañang, more efforts to reduce poverty, control inflation in 2015

The Aquino administration should step up its efforts this 2015 in controlling inflation, reducing poverty, and addressing other national concerns of its “bosses” as majority of Filipinos expressed optimism that 2015 will be a better year for them, Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian urged.


Gatchalian was referring to the 4th quarter survey by Pulse Asia which showed that despite the various political and economic concerns being faced by the country and its people, “nearly nine in 10 Filipinos (88%) say they will face the coming year with hope – the predominant sentiment in every geographic area and socio-economic class (84% to 91% and 84% to 90%, respectively)”.


The same Pulse Asia survey indicated “controlling inflation” as the top of the list of most urgent national concerns, followed by improving/increasing the pay of workers. Fighting graft and corruption in government, creating more jobs, and “reducing poverty” of many Filipinos were listed on the third to fifth spots.


“The top national concerns of people have not changed. Amid the lack of action on these issues, most people are still positive about the year ahead [2015], proving the resilience and never-say-die culture of Filipinos,” said Gatchalian, a member of National People’s Coalition (NPC).


The Valenzuela City solon, however, pointed out that on the part of government leaders, there is an urgent need for genuine action on such issues. “A lot of changes have been done by the Aquino administration, but there is still a lot of work to be accomplished before the President’s term ends next year.”


“These concerns [controlling inflation, reducing poverty, fighting graft and corruption] may be national in scope but they affect every working Filipino down to their very bones. It is high time for the government to set aside differences in order to work together according to the needs of their bosses,” said Gatchalian.

The former Valenzuela City mayor suggested the government could start 2015 right by postponing the planned fare hike in the Metro Railway Transit (MRT) and the Light Railway Transit (LRT) until improvements in their systems have been undertaken for the safety and convenience of their commuters.


“It has always been my position that service improvement in the MRT and LRT should come first since it would be easier for the government to impose fare hikes if the people can see that higher fares are translated to better service,” Gatchalian said.


He questioned the reason and the timing of the proposed water rate hike by the Manila Water and Maynilad which will take effect on Monday, January 5.


Gatchalian said the proposed increase in water rates was based on the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) to be implemented by the two utility firms at a time when the peso is still strong and oil prices continue to drop in the international market.


“Manila Water and Maynilad should be asked to explain their reasons for increasing water rates. I think a congressional inquiry should be conducted to determine whether a rate hike is justified or not,” Gatchalian said. (Monica Cantilero)