THE Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) on Monday called for a multi-sectoral, cross-religious effort to combat poverty which the religious group tagged as “public enemy number one.”
“While we have different beliefs, we agree wholeheartedly that we should wage all-out war against growing social inequity,” INC General Auditor Glicerio B. Santos Jr. said. “Poverty is a problem that confronts us all, one that all faiths universally condemn,” he added.
According to Santos, under the leadership of Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, the homegrown Filipino church intensified its anti-poverty and socio-civic initiatives through the INC’s Felix Y. Manalo Foundation.
Its pilot livelihood project —eco-farming — was launched two years ago nationwide.
“Our Lingap Pamamahayag is a year-round program that’s been actively providing material and spiritual help to Iglesia and non-Iglesia members all over the country. We envision an expansion of this initiative through the participation of our brethren from other socio-civic and religious groups so we can have a bigger impact on poverty reduction,” Santos said.
An example of this, Santos said, was the Lingap activity in General Santos, held at the city’s Polomolok gymnasium on January 29, where 12,000 “goodie packs,” 7,500 pieces of clothing and 10,000 toys were distributed to beneficiaries.
Close to thirty doctors and dentists also provided free medical and dental assistance.
“Poverty is an enemy that we should all, regardless of political and religious affiliations, wage an unrelenting war against. We can better combat poverty if we work and pull our resources together,” added Santos.
Public sentiment from the last quarter of 2015 showed that economic issues top the list of concerns for ordinary Filipinos.
An October 2015 survey released by Pulse Asia revealed that wages, inflation and job creation are the most important issues Filipinos were most concerned about. The Social Weather Stations (SWS) also found that 11.4 million families remain poor.
Fifty one percent of Filipinos consider themselves poor.
“The Iglesia humbly tries to do its small share in helping those who have less in life. A bigger program that involves our brothers and sisters from other socio-civic and religious groups would generate added interest and have a bigger impact on our target communities. That’s the direction we want to pursue with Lingap,” Santos said.
The Lingap Pamamahayag program has benefited communities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.