04/02/2014, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Card Tagle: Economic boom excludes Filipino people

The Archbishop of Manila criticizes the government's management of the economy, saying it has “abandoned the real country". The GDP is growing, says the cardinal, but "ordinary people remain poor". In January, the unemployment rate was at 7.5%, up 0.4% compared to last year . 55% live below poverty line.

Manila ( AsiaNews / CBCP ) - Despite the much-vaunted economic growth in the country, large pockets of poverty and unemployment are growing at an alarming rate. This is the paradox denounced by the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal . Luis Antonio Tagle, who says that while the Philippine government continues to boast of economic and commercial development it does not correspond to the real situation of the majority of the population. The prelate stresses that it is only right to highlight the progress made by the executive and the business sector but, he adds, is "alarming to see also that the level of poverty has not gone down".

Interviewed on Everyday Faith Live, a program broadcast by the New York based Catholic network Tele Care, Cardinal Tagle addressed the issue of imbalances in the economy of the Asian country. The cardinal noted that, last year , in spite of the fact that the Philippines last year registered the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in Southeast Asian regions, the question has to be asked "where is this growth going? How come ...ordinary people remained poor?".

The national statistics authority ( PSA ) said the unemployment rate climbed to 7.5 % from last year's 7.1 % even after the GDP last year grew 7.2 % - the second fastest in Asia next to China's 7.7 %. The report means that there are 2.96 million jobless Filipino families at the start of 2014, up from  2.78 million in 2013. A Social Weather Station (SWS) survey released last January also found that more families considered themselves poor at the end of 2013. SWS data showed that 11.8 million or 55 % of families rated themselves as poor, while some 8.8 million families or 41 % said they were "food-poor".

Cardinal Tagle's remarks confirm the Church's attention to the poor, as was the case in the recent past with the strong comments from the auxiliary Manila against abuse and discrimination of institutions towards the weaker fringe of the population. Msgr. Broderick Pabillo recalled how the government's economic policy contributes "significantly to the enlargement of the gap" between rich and poor.

The root cause of the economic growth in recent years is the policies promoted by President Aquino, who was elected in 2010 with a campaign devoted to the fight against corruption and widespread poverty. It has taken hold in a context in itself full of potential compared to other countries in South-East Asia, for the common use of the English language, the relative freedom of the press and established democratic tradition despite pockets of violence and internal resistance. However there are many unresolved problems particularly linked to poverty - 28% of the population live below the minimum threshold of survival - the strengthening of infrastructure (airports, roads, hotels) and fight against unemployment, which registered an increase in April (from 6.9% to 7.5%) compared with the same period in the past year.

 

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