POSTSCRIPT / January 12, 2016 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Survey: Top election issue still economics

IT IS STILL the economy and the gut issues of survival (kabuhayan) that will dominate the personal choices that voters will make on Election Day, if the latest survey is any indication.

Presidential and other candidates for national office may have to shift their focus, or even revamp their campaign, if they believe the findings of the latest (Dec. 4-11) survey of Pulse Asia on personal concerns of Filipinos.

This assumes that on May 9, the usual Filipino voter will make choices that are largely dictated by PERSONAL reasons, rather than by NATIONAL issues. (This assumption glosses over the so-called “command votes” that are cast blindly.)

The Pulse Asia survey of a sample of 1,800 adults nationwide showed that:

• Filipinos are most concerned personally about their health (62 percent) while on the national level, the people are preoccupied with economic concerns such as inflation (45 percent), workers’ pay (42 percent), poverty (38 percent), jobs (34 percent), and corruption (34 percent).

Majorities (50+1 percent) in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes consider staying healthy as an urgent personal concern (55-67 percent and 52-68 percent, respectively).

• Still on personal concerns, after staying healthy as the most urgent, the second most often mentioned as urgent is completing one’s education or providing schooling for one’s children (48 percent).

• Two concerns in a third cluster of personal issues are also deemed urgent – having a secure job (43 percent) and having enough to eat each day (41 percent).

• A fourth group of urgent personal concerns includes having some savings (39 percent) and having one’s own house and lot (37 percent).

• Filipinos appear to be least concerned about avoiding becoming a crime victim (30 percent).

If he is paying heed, will presidential candidate Rody Duterte — who seems to be riding on a perceived widespread concern over runaway criminality — rethink his messaging in light of the survey findings?

On national concerns, the leading issues were found to be mostly economic (high prices, low wages, poverty, unemployment) while fighting corruption in government a la “daang matuwid ”merits only 34-percent concern (or credibility?) from those surveyed.

The results of periodic surveys on poverty, hunger and unemployment have not been that comforting to the Aquino administration, which is responsible for improving the real economy as lived on the ground.

Will administration candidate Mar Roxas now have to review or refine his campaign strategy?

As for Vice President Jojo Binay, it appears that having had his finger on the public pulse at the grass roots, he does not have to reprogram. He can continue to glide quietly like a submarine and go straight where the people are waiting for a signal for change.

The fourth presidential candidate, Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, is still entangled in basic issues over her citizenship. That encumbers her from making clear and telling points on what she would do if elected  president.

Erap brings bonanza to market vendors

IN THE NATIONAL capital, a bare majority of those surveyed (51 percent) cite having a secure job as an urgent personal concern, while the same percentage of those in Class ABC (51 percent) are concerned about having some savings.

Metro Manilans are shown to be least concerned about personal food security (30 percent) and being victims of crime (32 percent).

It has been said that all politics is local. We dare add – also personal. Many local candidates go straight to their immediate constituencies undistracted by national issues.

Last week, reelectionist Manila Mayor Erap Estrada, for instance, surprised vendors of Divisoria still warm with the returns of the brisk Christmas shopping at that bargain center.

In a meeting at the Bulwagang Villegas in City Hall, Estrada announced to a group of some 300 vendors that starting Jan. 15, the city government will shoulder the P60 daily “kubol” fee collected from them every day.

The mayor also announced a P5,000 assistance to each qualified vendor. He told them the good news that the city could now afford to help them financially after he was able to pay some P4 billion in debts left by the previous city administration.

The only amount that legitimate vendors will have to pay, he said, is the P50 daily hawker’s fee being collected by the City Treasurer.

“Sa ngayon ay nagbabayad kayo ng P60 para sa kubol at P50 na hawker’s fee, o may kabuuang halagang P110 araw-araw,” Estrada told the cheering vendors. “Libre na ngayon ang bayad sa kubol kaya’t P50 na lamang ang inyong babayaran.”

The mayor clarified that the beneficiaries of this new policy are only the registered vendors who do not have outstanding liabilities to the city.

There are seven public markets set for redevelopment by City Hall using private money. Under the plan, investors have entered or are entering into joint venture agreements with the city to develop these markets (Arranque market is not one of them).

The first joint venture contract to be completed is for Quinta market in Quiapo. Stallholders have been relocated while the construction is ongoing.

The other two are Trabajo market in Sampaloc and Sta. Ana market in Sta. Ana. Vendors there are also using temporary sites while construction/refurbishing is ongoing. Also in the pipeline are Sampaloc market in Bustillos, Pritil market in Tondo, and Dagonoy market in Paco near the boundary with Makati.

Estrada stressed that he is not selling these city properties. Under the joint venture agreement (akin to the PPP or public private partnership projects of the Aquino administration but on a smaller scale), ownership is retained by the city.

But market administration and management is under a committee where the city government, the vendors, and the investors are represented.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 12, 2016)

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