A desperate move by the destitute

A desperate move by the destitute

/ 05:03 AM May 11, 2024


Officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should have actively monitored the unexpected spectacle on Wednesday, when more than a thousand people trooped to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) head office in Manila, to claim their supposed share in “hidden wealth” intended for the Filipino people.

Some would easily dismiss the crowd as a bunch of loonies looking for the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A “noble prince,” identified as Gilbert Langres, leader of a group called Democratic and Republican Guardians of the Philippines, had apparently lured them with fantastic claims that they can now partake of their share in the over P130 trillion worth of gold stashed in the BSP since the term of President Marcos Sr.

“This is what we call Bagong Lipunan, which is printed with a backup of gold amounting to more than P130 trillion intended for all Filipinos. The wealth hidden here in the BSP has reached its maturity,” Langres said, waving a list suffused with dates opposite cash values.


The BSP certainly has gold as part of the country’s international reserves, but it clarified that it does not distribute money directly to the public. Instead, it remits dividends to the government to finance its programs meant to uplift the lives of the people, the BSP said.

Yamashita treasure and Tallano gold

In this latest iteration of the Marcos gold used to dupe people and voters, members of the Langres group trooped from distant provinces—Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Nueva Ecija, and Iloilo—to claim their share. A GMA News report quoted one contingent from Cagayan Valley as having rented a bus for P80,000 using a loan from one of its members, while a 72-year-old woman from Nueva Ecija said she had rented a van for P7,500 for the trip to Manila.

Why go through all that trouble and expense, the woman was asked. “Naghihirap na. Assistance na pang araw-araw (We’re poor. We need assistance for our daily needs),” she said. Another 72-year-old woman said they were assured they won’t come home empty-handed. “Sa hirap nga ng hanapbuhay, gusto naming magkaroon kahit paano (Life is tough, we just want something to make ends meet),” she added.

Like others before them, Wednesday’s crowd found themselves holding an empty bag. In 2017, thousands of people converged at the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus in Laguna after they were each promised P1 million in cash or gold bullion from the Marcos ill-gotten wealth. Tales about the Yamashita treasure and the Tallano gold associated with the late dictator have apparently endured, and have reportedly been used to gather votes in the 2022 presidential elections.


Pied pipers

It’s incumbent on authorities to look into the backgrounds and activities of Langres and his ilk to prevent pied pipers like him from duping more victims with implausible promises that come to naught.

This latest sorry episode is really a cry for help from people who are so hard up that the promise of instant cash becomes an irresistible draw, despite it being bereft of logic or reason. This desperation, driven by hunger pangs and survival instinct, should serve as a wake-up call to government agencies to do better and do more to address poverty and alleviate the plight of the poor.


As the frontline agency meant to address the issue, the DSWD must make its presence felt more widely and reach out more efficiently to desperate citizens in their hour of need. The DSWD has the budget to do this—P209 billion for this year for its poverty alleviation and social welfare programs, among them the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) and the “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” launched through Executive Order No. 44 as a flagship program of the Marcos administration.

Poverty alleviation plans

Clearly, these programs—mostly dole outs—are not enough to make a dent in the growing numbers of poor and hungry Filipinos. The Marcos administration has its work cut out for it if it truly wants to make a difference in the lives of its constituents.

In his first two years, President Marcos made known his administration’s flagship programs, its 8-point socioeconomic agenda, Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, and other poverty alleviation plans that all look good on paper. But the hungry horde can’t wait for those plans to fully ripen by the end of the President’s term. These programs—along with huge taxpayer money and even bigger foreign debts incurred to sustain them—must bear fruit here and now. The destitute and the desperate, such as those hoodwinked to troop to the BSP for instant riches, need those programs to be translated into results posthaste, to actually put food on their table and give them the livelihood they need to lift their families from poverty.


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