Northern Samar is one of the poorest provinces of the entire Philippines. Northern Samar alongside Sulu and Masbate, were found to be the “poorest” provinces in the Philippines based on the National Poverty Map 2007 prepared by the Peace and Equity Foundation. The PEF identified the three provinces as having the “most pronounced conditions of poverty” among all the provinces in the country in a presentation last week during the World Bank-sponsored Panibagong Paraan ’08.
The provinces were ranked according to the PEF Development Index, which is based on various government poverty indicators, including the lack of housing, lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities, incidence of malnutrition and income level.
Closely following Northern Samar, Sulu and Masbate at the low end of the PEF Development Index were Basilan, Western Samar, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Sarangani, Zamboanga del Norte and Negros Oriental.
I'm not surprised. Living here in Northern Samar is like hell if you rely on the internet and on computers for a living, or even on anything that runs on electricity. Why? well, every single day, electricity is intermittent. The past few days even had times where the electricity has been going on and off like a switch. Everyday, power is out for either a second or hours on end. There is no security in the supply of electricity. The only thing that is consistent is that one should expect a power interruption everyday, no thanks to the local electric cooperative, NORSAMELCO or the Provincial Government of Raul Daza who takes a hands-off policy on the power outage situation.
What is revolting in the findings of the Peace and Equity Foundation is that the other two poorest provinces are island provinces so it is understandable that those have high poverty incidence. But, and the big but, is that Northern Samar, straddles the Maharlika National Highway and is although far is easily reachable from and to Manila.
No amount of media mileage can even budge the local authorities of Northern Samar to act. GMA7' Imbestigador launched a shame campaign on the Catarman Airport, but to date, no action has been done. The local officials only had their fingers pointed at other agencies instead of taking command responsibility as only a decent and respectable Provincial official is bound to observe.
If even the most basic of service that a government should deliver to its people as electricity is, and is very unrealiable in Northern Samar, how much more in the other aspect. To date, everywhere you look, and especially in those unannounced brownouts anytime of the day, there is no question that the Province of Northern Samar really belongs to the poorest provinces of the Philippines.