Kris Aquino and DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman were recently in Baguio City where they distributed, with the city Mayor, school supplies to 700 school going children in three public schools. But why did this reek of false hope, traditional politics, and unethical behaviour?
- Timing and personalities involved. Kris is the President’s sister and Dinky is personally appointed by the President; this at a time when President Aquino’s public rating is on a downslide. Are we still on campaign mode?
- The manner by which the distribution was conducted. The Midland Courier captured Kris and Dinky handing the school supplies to outstretched arms of young children (700 called up into a gym), reminiscent of people in the aftermath of a disaster fighting for relief goods. The more loving way would be for Kris and Dinky to have gone to each of the three schools themselves, classroom by classroom, introduce themselves as well as get to know each of the child in the class, interact a bit or tell a story (which children love any time), go to each child and hand the school supply personally, instead of telling children to come to them in a line, or transporting 700 children from their classrooms and dumping them, nameless, and like canned sardines, in a gym. The paper reports, “the presidential sister spent almost an hour distributing assorted school supplies when many were thinking she would immediately leave the venue after her speech”. How could these ‘many’ think they owe Kris her time? Also, the Baguio paper had a shot of Dinky on the stage giving a speech, with Kris, Mayor Domogan and others seated behind her, feted I assume. Below them, I imagine are the 700 children and their teachers, standing and huddling in the gym. Whose money were used to buy the school supplies anyway?
- Kailangan tayong mamuhunan sa mga bata so said Ms. Soliman. Yes, but what about next school year, will Kris and Dinky return to distribute another set? And the next year after next? I’ve heard government officials lament over people’s supposedly laziness and begging even for their basic needs. I really can’t blame the people when they are made and taught to beg in the first place and by these public officials. It’s a prey-predator relationship gone symbiotic. The bottomline is, on top of school supplies, what measures are being put in place that would reap longer term benefits especially for the marginalized? Dinky is reported to have oriented the audience on the government’s pro-poor programs, mentioning school supplies and day care feeding among these. My God. They didn’t even know who are the real poor!
- The really poor are not among those who received the school supplies because those who were given are children already enrolled and presumably with school supplies already . If Dinky and Kris wanted to make a real impact, they should have coordinated with city hall beforehand, see where and how many are children who are out of school instead of coming in from the cold like Mama Santa Clauses (but even Santa Claus is supposedly making the toys based on lists sent in by children).
If I were to assess the impact of Kris’ and Dinky’s school supplies distribution, I’d say it maintained the status quo; it didn’t change anything. After receiving the school supplies, the enrolled children are twice supplied whereas the children who are not in school this year because their parents couldn’t afford to send them even to supposedly free public schools are still out of the school. Pro-poor?