Poverty, Homelessness, and the Catholic Church in the Philippines (CCP)


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Photo : Anton Zelenov CC BY-SA 3.0 (Maynila)
Photo : Anton Zelenov CC BY-SA 3.0 (Maynila)

In the Philippines Statics Authority (PSA) website, released in December 2019, it was stated that “the full year 2018 poverty incidence among population, or the proportion of poor Filipinos whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs, was estimated at 16.6 percent (17.6 million Filipinos)”.

Meanwhile in 2018, Reuters reported that there were 4,500,000 homeless Filipinos, in which 3,000,000 homeless people live in Manila alone, possibly the most in any city in the world. In addition, there were 3,988,000 people displaced from their homes due to natural disasters and violence (Internal Displacement). 

Photo: philstar.com/nation/2019/10/01/1956337/project-homeless-pinoys-launched-quezon-city-today
Photo: philstar.com/nation/2019/10/01/1956337/project-homeless-pinoys-launched-quezon-city-today

Given that these numbers are so huge, many Filipinos wonder why this is happening since the Philippines is dominated by Catholicism; meaning that the vast majority of the population in the Philippines are members of the Catholic Church. This is however a very valid question to ask since many reports has surfaced during the past years proving that the Catholic Church in the Philippines (CCP) is so vastly rich; with it billions worth of wealth, not to mention the money that they’ve collected from 2012, the year this wealth was publicly exposed, up to these days. 

In a 2015 report, it was published that “one of the richest dioceses in the world is the Archdiocese of Manila”. As of December 29, 2014, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) reported that “the value of stocks of the archdiocese and its subsidiary companies has amounted to more than P30 billion”, with its investments in construction, hospitals, banking, mining, food and beverages, information technology, energy, and oil. However, it was also reported that the CCP already divested its investments on some of these companies.

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In a 2011 reports submitted to PSE, it was disclosed that the CCP and other affiliate Catholic groups has invested in companies like Philex Miniing Corporation (PX), Ayala Corporation (AC), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Phinma Corporation (PHN) and others. Indeed, the CCP is one of the biggest stockholders of these corporations and known as one of the wealthiest Archdiocese in the world through its “multi-billion pesos diversified investments locked in shares”. 

Photo: filcatholic.org/philippine-bishops-vow-no-clergy-sex-abuse-cover-ups/
Photo: filcatholic.org/philippine-bishops-vow-no-clergy-sex-abuse-cover-ups/

However, it is also important to note that some of these companies are unethical and contrast to the teachings of the CCP itself such as gambling, vices, and mining. In addition, some of these firms have its records of various notorious practices in history such as child labor and other human rights violation. This is the reason why by June of 2011 also, the Archdiocese had divested its share from Philex Mining Corporation. But prior to that, as of January 2011, the Archdiocese had more than 3 million shares in this company. The Church had also invested on Philex Petroleum, a subsidiary of Philex Mining Corporation, and was “number 14 in its list of 100 top stockholders as of April 2014”. But by September 2014, the CCP has said to have withdrawn from this firm. 

There are more to this story, for sure. However, as of today no one is sure yet what really happened to most of those money reported even though that poverty and homelessness in the Philippines still remain as what has been stated in the reports above. If the CCP has integrity and is really concerned about helping the poor and to the well-being of all the people especially Filipinos in general, which what their teachings and the bible are saying, they should probably use these money to solve the problems of poverty and homelessness in the country. 

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Alter Picar

Alter Picar is a writer, translator, self-published author, songwriter / musician, community worker, non-profit organization manager (volunteer), mental health advocate / educator, librarian, and organic gardener.

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