MANILA, Dec. 28, 2015 – Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said 2015 was a “very disappointing year” primarily because of the harsh socio-economic realities.
“I call on photographers to visit certain areas in North Harbor to see how people are with poverty becoming the new normal,” he explained in an exclusive interview with CBCP News. “Almost all food commodities in the market are imported, if not smuggled,” added the former CBCP president.
According to Cruz, poverty has become well-entrenched in many areas in Metro Manila, keeping conditions deplorable for countless famlies.
Imported food, garbage
“Not only food is imported because we also imported garbage from Canada and God knows from which other countries,” said the Archbishop Emeritus of Lingayen – Dagupan.
He described outgoing President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III as “one who’s against the people, against population but at the same time uses people in the person of overseas Filipino workers whose remittances [keep] the country’s economy afloat.”
Cruz said there is no truth to President Aquino’s claims that the Filipino people are his “bosses” because in truth and in fact, his close collaborators, those handling public funds and appropriate them for their own benefit, are the ones “who have Mr. Aquino’s ear.”
The slogan “daang matuwid is anything but matuwid”, he insists.
“Where’s the newly-enacted General Appropriations Act of 2016 coming from?” the prelate asked. He said most of the budget comes from direct and indirect taxes levied on rich and poor Filipinos.
“A significant portion of it would come from foreign borrowing,” Cruzs further said. He added he fears the coming budget would be mishandled by government executives as in previous years.
He specifically mentions the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) where he believes beneficiaries are being shortchanged by some government officials.
In connection to this, Cruz expressed fears the upcoming May 2016 elections will not be free because “when people are poor, they are not free.” He said with a government budget of over Php 3 trillion, it would be easy to buy and sell votes.
The 81-year-old prelate said he believes the incoming administration equipped even with “a little intelligence, could do a lot for the people.”
The retired Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop said the country has transformed itself into a country of illegal drug manufacturing, women and children up for sale through the internet and killings which occur regularly, among other concerns. (Melo Acuña / CBCP News)