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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/29/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A government and people intent on keeping the poor impoverished

The passage of Typhoon Haiyan through the Philippines has caused devastation and humanitarian disaster on a scale not previously seen, forcing hundreds into doing horrible things to survive their new found poverty.

More than 1/3 of all Filipinos live below the poverty line.

More than 1/3 of all Filipinos live below the poverty line.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/29/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: International, Asia, Philippines, Economics, Faith, Poverty


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Probably the face of this tragedy is a 17-year-old boy named Reggie.

In this dark world you can be a light with "prayer and action."

He and his family lived on the edge of hunger before Typhoon Haiyan came through and took away his home in November of 2013. Without a home or job, Reggie was forced into unpaid labor on a fishing boat, and later abandoned without food or pay. Even more unspeakably, Reggie was jailed soon afterward for being a vagrant.

Only recently was he rescued from illegal detention.

Another Filipino, Edgar, has an ever worse horror story which is typical of hundreds of thousands of Filipino street children. He was found wounded in the streets of Manila, wearing only a pair of shorts which were his only possession.

This is a sad reality of the Philippines, where 29 million out of 100 million are living below the poverty line, nearly the same disparity as seven years ago.

A member of the Philippines congress, Walden Bello, writes that the rest of the world has made a great improvement in reducing poverty since 2005. The World Bank declared in 2010 that the "progress is so drastic that the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half, five years before its 2015 deadline".

The Philippines have not made any of these strides.

The roots of this poverty is found in the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few powerful families and debt has become a tool of controlling the poorer population. Up to 25% of the Philippine national budget goes into debt, which leaves little cash left for infrastructure, rural development or education.

The Philippine Congress seems intent on retaining this system, passing mining laws that uproot entire villages and communities for international corporations which destroy the environment with open pit excavations and heavy deforestation.

What the Philippines needs is a pro-poor economic policy change that will put job creation and land distribution as top priorities. This would enable the poor to find employment, while the middle class will gain meaningful spending power which will in turn create more spending power and employment options.

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