Why people turn to saints
Policymakers are to blame why throngs of poor and sick people opt to seek deliverance from the Black Nazarene rather than flock to hospitals for regular medical treatment. Besides the yearly observance of this centuries-old tradition, the devotees’ main concerns for keeping the faith revolve around their plea to relieve them from serious illness and lift them out of poverty.
Policymakers should look at this phenomenon in a more political rather than in a purely religious sense. It is a failure of policies and governance. When poor people are afraid of hospitals because of high cost, their traditional option is to look for divine and nondiscriminating sponsors in the likes of the Black Nazarene and other saints. While faith and deliverance are a personal devotion to the Creator, quality healthcare, employment and other aspects of good life are the State’s social and moral obligation to its people.
It is a tragicomedy when lawmakers make noise about their constituents having problems in availing the “pork” they have realigned to different agencies. For example, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga complained against the lack of guidelines from government agencies on how former pork beneficiaries could have access to the services they previously enjoyed. Worse, lawmakers are probably out to exploit the frustrations of the masses in order to smuggle in a plan to reconstitute their pork barrel.
The problem is that government merely realigned the Priority Development Assistance Fund to line agencies without putting in place a universal system in delivering social services, thus creating in effect administrative gridlocks because politicized and discretionary parts of the budget remain.
It is time to create a universal social protection fund in place of the pork barrel system. The terms “pork scholars” and “medical assistance” should then be replaced by “state scholars” and “universal healthcare.”
The United Nations and the International Labor Organization have been pushing for “universalization” in place of the “targeting system” in the provision of social services because it is administratively less costly, inclusive and more empowering when social services become legal entitlements based on people’s needs and not on their ability to pay.
Partido ng Manggagawa,
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