The government apparently has much explaining to do to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
In a recent interview on “Everyday Faith Live” show of Tele Care, a New York-based Catholic television network, Tagle wondered why Philippine economic growth has not trickled down to majority of Filipinos.
He pointed out that the country posted the highest growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 among member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and yet the achievement has apparently failed to improve the lives of the masses.
Asean groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Where is this growth going? How come there is this ‘very accelerated growth economically,’ but ordinary people remain poor?” Tagle said when asked to comment about the economic balance in the Philippines.
The Manila archbishop, however, hailed the efforts of the Aquino administration and private businessmen in pursuing better economic growth last year.
“We are rejoicing at the fact [that], I think, last year, the Philippines registered the highest GDP growth in Southeast Asia, and we have to salute our government and the business sector,” he said.
Recently, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an increase in the number of unemployed Filipinos despite the country’s above-target economic growth in 2013.
The PSA said the unemployment rate climbed to 7.5 percent from last year’s 7.1 percent even after the country’s GDP grew 7.2 percent in 2013.
The report means that there are 2.96 million jobless Filipino families at the start of 2014, up from 2.78 million in 2013.
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released in January found that more Filipino families considered themselves poor at the end of 2013.
SWS data showed that 11.8 million or 55 percent of families rated themselves as “poor,” while some 8.8 million families or 41 percent said they were “food-poor.”
“This [finding]has really disturbed the initial exuberance in receiving this news [on the GDP growth in 2013],” Tagle said.
Both self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty rose from the previous quarter and were above their four-quarter averages for 2013, the SWS noted.