At least 12.2 million families admit to becoming poor, survey finds
Filipinos line up for free packed lunches distributed by the Catholic religious order Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in Manila on June 24. (Photo: AFP)
A Catholic women’s group in the Philippines has blamed former President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime for poor governance and corruption that pushed millions into poverty.
The Santa Clara Catholic Women’s Group said Aug. 3 that about 12.2 million Filipinos felt impoverished under Duterte’s rule.
The Catholic group, which supports clergy in mission areas such as landfills and orphanages, said corruption and corruption in the former administration continued to haunt Filipinos.
The group said President Rodrigo Duterte’s mismanagement of pandemic funds amounting to 67.3 billion pesos ($1.35 billion) recently flagged by the Audit Commission could have improved the quality of lives of millions of Filipinos.
“There was corruption even in times of pandemic when people are poor and dying. It showed nothing more than a lack of mercy and the deprivation of millions of people to improve their quality of life. The billions pocketed by the corrupt should have gone to our compatriots,” the group said in a statement.
In August 2021, the country’s audit commission flagged several transactions by the Ministry of Health for mishandling the country’s Covid-19 funds.
The commission had issued audit reports questioning transparency and the acquisition of high-priced medical supplies from a certain company whose owners were close or allied to the president.
Duterte stopped the investigation saying it would have “confused” people.
“You know that when you report, there is already a taint of corruption by perception… You are reporting. Do not report it or publish it because it will condemn the agency or the person you are reporting,” Duterte allegedly told the audit commission.
The women’s group said this attitude by Duterte fuels corruption instead of holding officials accountable for their actions.
“We can see this in the way President Duterte has handled corruption and bribery allegations and reports, submitted and prepared by independent bodies. He simply dismissed them and pretended everything was fine instead of assuring the public that he would investigate and make the person(s) responsible for stealing our money pay,” the group added.
“All of this has contributed to the conclusion or inevitable consequence that the poor are the ultimate victims of corruption in government. We have suffered enough. Instead of having a government protecting them, we had a government taking advantage of our needs during a pandemic. »
The group’s reaction came in response to a recent survey released by a private company indicating that 12.2 million Filipinos felt poor in the first quarter of 2022.
The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey indicated that there was a 1.3% increase from the 10.9 million Filipino families who felt “poor” in the last quarter of 2021.
“Poor families in all regions have increased, particularly in Metro Manila and the Visayas, as shown in the June survey. Compared to April 2022, the self-assessment of the poor has increased in the Visayas from 48% to 64% and in Metro Manila from 32% to 41%,” the survey station said on Aug. 3.
Harry del la Cruz, an economics professor at Malvar University, noted the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) due to job losses and other issues that have contributed to worsening of the poverty curve.
“The government has provided assistance to a total of 803,521 repatriated Filipino workers overseas,” de la Cruz told UCA News.
“Filipino workers abroad have helped a lot in keeping the economy afloat with their significant contribution through personal remittances which reached a record high of $33.5 billion in 2019 and accounted for 9, 3% of our GDP,” he added.
The Philippines has seen an increase in poverty rates, from 21.1% in 2018 to 23.7% in 2021, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Some 26.4 million Filipinos lived below the poverty line last year.