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21 Jul, 2013

Filipino Bishops: GDP Grows, So Why Do the Poor Remain Poor?


Manila, Philippines July 21, 2013 (Manila Bulletin) — The 7.8 percent growth in the first quarter of the year was something that the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III crows about.

Yet, according to the Catholic prelates Filipinos continue to be poor, unable to benefit from this economic growth.

Without any evident trickledown effect on ordinary Filipinos, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said the President should address the issue of poverty in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) tomorrow, July 22.

“The benefits of a good economy should trickle down to the poor and unemployed. As of now, the poor and many people do not feel the good economy,” said Ongtioco.

“Inclusive growth. Reason: Despite the economic growth, the poverty incidence is still huge,” said Bastes.

The call comes as many continue to question why Filipinos remain poor despite the Aquino government’s supposed strong gains in the economy as shown by the strong 7.8 percent growth in the first quarter of the year.

Caloocan Bishop emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, on the other hand, are interested in hearing Aquino give an update on the issue of corruption.

“Hopefully, the culture of corruption can be discussed. But I wonder whether he will consider that,” said Iñiguez.

“I reiterate the suggestion that the pork barrel be better used for common good – that there be honesty and transparency in reporting its use. Those who misuse pork barrel must either be deprived of it or be dealt with justly,” said Lagdameo.

The pork barrel and corruption remain hot issues after the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam was exposed, linking several lawmakers to funding of projects through suspected fake non-government organizations (NGOs).

Tomorrow, Aquino is set to deliver his fourth SONA and the public expects the President’s speech to reflect on the real status of the country.