01/30/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino Church and government helping country's poor

by Santosh Digal
President Arroyo has visited a refugee camp in the village of Misereor, in the province of Nueva Ecija. Collaboration between the government and Catholics has permitted the birth of a school and the use of a field, dedicated to organic farming. The inhabitants are being provided with basic medical care and rice at controlled prices.

Nueva Ecija (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church, in collaboration with the government of Manila, has begun a project dedicated to the poor in the province of Nueva Ecija, in the western Philippines. It is part of a wider initiative promoted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, together with the Catholic leaders of the country, launched last January 16 during a visit to the parish of Don Bosco, in Barrio Magsaysay Tondo, a town near the capital. The program supported by the Church and the central government is intended to help the poorest of the poor in the country, hit by the global economic crisis and deprived of the means of subsistence.

Today, President Arroyo visited the village of Misereor, in the western part of the province of Nueva Ecija, where in a vast area of 11.6 hectares more than 250 families have taken refuge after fleeing from the flooding that hit the city of Aurora. The head of state has provided 125 scholarships for a group of students, who will attend classes at an occupational institute in the area. Accompanying Arroyo was Sr. Rosanne Malilin, executive director of the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace, who presented the activities undertaken in the area, the condition of the population and of the school buildings. For a short time, a building has been operating within which there are a childcare center, an elementary school, and the occupational institute. It hosts 214 students, and is run by three Pauline sisters.

The Catholic Church has also provided three hectares of farmland, while the government has begun a program of education and development dedicated to organic farming, to guarantee a source of income for the inhabitants. The government has provided for the creation of a team of doctors and dentists to provide basic medical care. Finally, the inhabitants will be able to buy rice at a price set by the government, at 18.25 pesos (a little more than 30 euro cents) per kilo.

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