Former Speaker Jose de Venecia called on governments and parliaments to tackle the problem on inequality, noting that the richest one percent or 80 of the world’s richest individuals own 60 percent of the wealth of the world, or the same amount shared by 3.5 billion who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale.
Speaking successively at the premises of the Kennedy Caucus Room of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives, de Venecia quoted prestigious international charity OXFAM: “America’s 300,000 richest individuals now collectively enjoy almost or much income as the bottom 150 million.”
“In the Philippines, the income and social gap is so great that like Disraeli’s Britain in the 1840s, the rich and the poor among us have become virtually ‘two nations’,” he said.
The Chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), said “the incredibly huge gap between the rich and the poor, still exists in many countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and a number of cities in Europe and North America.”
He pointed out that in IAPP, “we observe that inequality is an unavoidable result of market operations. Inequality is the price of capitalist dynamism. Left to itself, rapid economic growth accelerates income inequality.”
“Growth benefits most of all those best-equipped with the education, the skills and the capital to take advantage of the opportunities the expanding economy offers,” De Venecia said.
Although inequality is unavoidable, it can be mitigated by government activity and by parliamentary action, he said.
“And it is right that the state and parliaments should do so—because economic insecurity, if left to itself, will steadily erode social order and eventually generate a backlash against the economic system as a whole,” De Venecia, also the president of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, stressed.
“Leaders, political parties, parliaments and governments succeed best when in their policies they combine the individual initiative that capitalism stimulates with socialism’s compassion for those whom development leaves behind,” he pointed out.
He cited the Philippines’ success in whittling down poverty from 26 percent five years ago to 22 percent in June.
“And the Duterte government goal is to reduce poverty incidence to only 13 percent by 2022. This goal will entail raising 1.5 million people from poverty every year,” de Venecia said.