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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Before NBN, solve poverty first

Was surfing the net and came across this "Letter to the Editor" in Inquirer. Couldn't agree more as this is what I have been talking about with friends and relatives regarding the "NBN Deal". Like the doctor who wrote this letter, I also belong to those group of people who see the " relevance and importance of having access to the internet, of how great it would be to have fast and easy access to the "world wide web" whenever needed. So having "broadband" in the country is not such a bad idea. But the thing is, this country has other pressing concerns that needs to be addressed first before the whole populace could actually appreciate what this broadband could do. This is a case of knowing the difference between something important and something urgent. Food, shelter and clothing - these are things that truly matter. And they are urgent necessities in every Filipino Family which this government has yet to provide . Until then, the importance of having "broadband" will never be relevant in a country such as ours.

Before NBN, solve poverty first

Last updated 05:34am (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- I am an electronic and internet freak. I never leave home without my laptop—my American Express card, maybe, but not my laptop. Even when I fly to the Philippines, which I do every other month, I have my computer with me “connected to my hip.” So, I am 100 percent in favor of having a national broadband network for the Philippines—but not at that padded, super-inflated cost of $329 million (when other quality bids are lower) and, more importantly, not before we take care of our poor, homeless and hungry fellow Filipinos who are languishing in total poverty.

How insensitive, uncaring and unfocused our President and our legislators would be to even plan to give our people tuxedos when more than 70 percent of them are clothed mostly in rags. Or, to offer the homeless and the hungry champagne, strawberries and caviar instead of a home, food and education for their children. These are the areas where our national leaders must focus on and spend our tax pesos in, to alleviate this deadly cancer of poverty among our people.

Couples for Christ, among others, and Tony Meloto’s Gawad Kalinga are addressing this fundamental issue. Why can’t our government concentrate on and address this dilemma more effectively? I know for a fact that the Philippines can eradicate poverty if it wills it. It is not an impossible task. One does not have to be an Einstein or a rocket scientist to do the math.

Our legislators and other government thieves can steal less from the national coffers, for a start, so that the “remaining (unstolen) balance” can be earmarked to help our poor, homeless, hungry, hopeless and destitute kababayan. The billions and billions being plundered by corrupt officials can make a big dent on—if not eliminate—poverty, and make it a thing of the past for millions of Filipinos.

And only when those thieves start doing that noble humanitarian task can they legitimately and conscionably consider providing the Filipinos with 21st-century, cutting-edge communications technology—like the National Broadband Network. I feel very strongly that our government would first satisfy our corrupt National Broad-Bandits Network (NBBN)—aka National Broad-Kurakot Network (NBKN)—before attending to the suffering people of the Philippines.

As I said earlier, I am very much addicted to this great technology and would love to have it in our country. But first things first. Let’s set our priorities in order. Let’s first eradicate two existing deplorable and embarrassing conditions in our country: the NBBN-NBKN corruption and poverty. Succeeding in these endeavors will finally allow us to regain our honor and dignity as a people and as a nation in the eyes of the world.

God bless the Filipinos. God bless the Philippines.

PHILIP S. CHUA, M.D., via-email