MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte echoed opposition party Bayan Muna’s sentiments on the lack of inclusive growth in the Philippines, as he pointed out that the vast majority of Filipinos have not felt the benefits of the reported economic upswing of the country over the last four years.
Speaking at the group’s 15th anniversary held at Old Balara in Quezon City on Saturday, Belmonte said: “A lot of us are asking: Why are we not feeling the economic growth in the country? As House Speaker, I will not tolerate these present circumstances. I will make it my fight for all of us to experience this economic prosperity and not a case where only a few are becoming wealthy. That is what I want to happen.”
“If the Philippine economy is growing, Filipinos should also be then ones enjoying its rewards,” he stressed.
Belmonte agreed with what Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said on Friday in a speech before Congress: “Widespread unemployment and poverty are the leading problems of the country. This cannot be erased by what this government has trumpeted as the rise in our gross domestic product”
Colmenares opined that this situation could not be resolved by simply relying on the P64.7-billion conditional cash transfer program. Nor could it be remedied by creating temporary jobs or looking to the public-private partnership program. He noted that he issues at hand require more than a “simple ‘trickle-down’ discussion.
Meanwhile, Belmonte urged Colmenares and the rest of the opposition party-list to create a congressional oversight committee – which would be patterned after a similar committee in the US Congress – in order to track how the annual budget will be disbursed, and if the budget is being properly spent.
“We are all asking what is happening to our public funds? We have read all these news about corrupt practices of the strong and powerful. We will be forming an oversight committee to check where the funds are going and ensure that the poor are getting what has been allocated for them,” Belmonte stated.