The Vicious Cycle of Progress and Poverty
By Apolinario Villalobos
Poverty is a mean excuse to do things for easy money by the weak in spirit. But the strong are ready to go hungry in the name of ideals and principles. The exploiters use poverty in blackmailing the unfortunates, one result of which is the dirty election due to rampant vote buying.
Exploitation of the illiterates and impoverished also result to virtual land grabbing because they are made to “sell” their ancestral domains to rich real estate developers at below the decent value level. As subdivisions, golf courses and resorts sprout, the displaced former landowners and the fortune-seekers from other parts of the country huddle in not so distant depressed areas with many of them working as low-waged employees of the mentioned business institutions that sprouted.
Poverty is the corner where the impoverished are pushed to make a choice between death and survival. Also, when the government alleges progress, poverty trails a few steps behind. Along this line, poverty breeds animosity in a community, especially, on matters of politics. In this regard, while some members of the community are ready to sell their soul for a few pesos in exchange for their vote, others are steadfast in protecting theirs which has always been viewed as a “sacred” right. Even some of the clerics of the Catholic Church have joined the confusion by counseling their members to accept the bribe but vote according to their conscience.
As soon as the corrupt candidates are finally put in place, thanks to the rampant vote-buying, in no time at all, they start to engage in schemes designed to insure the “return of their investment”. Projects that involve infrastructures are conceived, supposedly to carry on the “progress”…the bigger project, the better, as assurance for fat commissions. The worst scheme is connivance with non-governmental organizations for ghost projects. While all these things are going on, the suffering constituents see around them towering manifestations of progress in the shadow of which, they cringe in poverty.
Progress and poverty are the two forces that push each other to create the never ending loop that goes round and round…a never-ending cycle that plagues the people of the third-world countries such as the Philippines, and the culprits are the “investors” – exploiting nations that promise comfort in exchange for “developments”. Yet, despite the prevailing realities of the time, the rest of third-world nations still bite the bait.