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‘Mission impossible’ stalks NAPC in anti-poverty bid

December 03, 2019 - Tuesday 4:12 AM by Jimmy Laking

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One government agency with a tall order to coordinate efforts to reduce poverty to 14 percent by 2022 when President Duterte steps out from office is the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

NAPC Secretary Noel K. Felongco, who previously served as Cotabato City councilor and was one of several lawyers who actively campaigned for Duterte in 2016, said it can be done.

Yet with only a P245 million annual budget to boot, the NAPC is severely handicapped to fulfill the mandate.

In a meeting with civil society organizations in General Santos City on Saturday, the NAPC said it needed a P1 billion budget beginning next year to be able to help lift six million Filipinos by 2022.

This way we would be able to saturate poor provinces not on a fly-in-fly-out basis but on a sustained basis, said Felongco, adding that the NAPC would like to make its presence felt in Mindanao where most provinces have high poverty incidence rate.
As matters stand, NAPC’s budget is much lower than the P300 million allotted by the Zamboanga City government to its economic zone.

The NAPC was created by Republic Act 8425 which also institutionalized the government’s social reform agenda that is aimed at reducing poverty.

The NAPC is the government’s coordinating council to reduce poverty which affects 21 percent of the country’s population.

Executive Order 59 issued by President Duterte has directed all government agencies and government-owned corporations to support NAPC’s whole-of-government approach in combatting poverty.

Felongco called on the bicameral committee in Congress to raise the agency’s budget.

Felongco said with more funds, the NAPC can double up efforts in coordinating government efforts in reducing poverty.

“We want to be more visible and more assertive in the regions on a sustainable basis,” he said.

Philippine security forces consider poverty as the root cause of insurgency.

In the same forum, Lieutenant Colonel Jake Obligado of the Eastern Mindanao Command said ending local communist insurgency is the top priority of the Duterte administration.

He said poverty is the stimulus to insurgency.

Felongco said only by reducing poverty will the attraction of insurgency made irrelevant and the building of peaceful communities made possible.

Felongo said reducing poverty to 14 percent if not lower by the end of President Duterte’s term is equivalent to lifting 6 million Filipinos from poverty.

In resolution released by NAPC addressed to the House of Representatives and the Senate, it said the passage of the Magna Carta for the Urban Poor amplifies and strengthens the government’s war on poverty.

“The NAPC as the coordinating agency on poverty alleviation needed a much more realistic budget to cope with the challenge of addressing poverty,” the resolution said. “As is, where is, the NAPC cannot give what it does not have,” it added.

The NAPC also issued an appeal for support in pressing the bi-cameral body of Congress to help the agency realize its goal of reducing poverty.

“Appeals to our lawmakers, especially to the members of the bi-cameral body on budget allocation to increase the agency’s budget is most welcome,” it added.