23 January 2015
Their number can hardly fill up a bus but the combined wealth of the country’s richest families can easily feed the entire nation.
This reality, the Partido Manggagawa (PM) said, can help explain the unreturned query of Glyzelle Palomar to Pope Francis on why only few people come to their help.
PM said Glyzelle was definitely not referring to the country’s 1% as the few good Samaritans but to the few likely neighbors that occasionally come to their aid.
“Now it can be explained to Glyzelle that with just half of their estimated wealth of $74 billion (Php 3.2 trillion) in 2014, the country’s Richest 50 can actually provide 17 to 24 million families the basic minimum requirements of daily living for one year,” explained PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.
There are about 12 million Filipino families who consider themselves poor based on the latest survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS). Government statistics, however, put the number of families in extreme poverty to only 4.2 million in 2012.
The same report points out that in 2012, a Filipino family of five needed Php 7,890 to meet its basic food and non-food requirements every month. For food alone it needs Php 5,513.
Based on these estimates, a family of five needs at least Php 94,680 in one year to keep themselves above the poverty threshold or Php 66,156 to beat the food threshold.
Fortaleza expounded that assuming the richest 50 gave up only half of their wealth which is equivalent to Php 1.6 trillion out of compassion for the poor, that can easily translate to 17 million families surviving poverty in one year or 24 million families surviving the food threshold.
With an average size of 4.6 members, the Philippines has about 22 million families.
The labor group explained further that the combined wealth of the richest 50 is equivalent to five years salary for about 5 million minimum wage earners in the National Capital Region.
But Fortaleza was quick to point out that this kind of scenario will never work out since in reality, it is the super rich that feeds on the hard labor and meagre income of poor Filipinos.
The Forbes’ list of Philippines richest 50 showed families in oligopolistic control of the country’s vital industries such as power, water, telecommunications and transportation, banking and finance, farmlands and real estates, construction, highways, mining, hotels and restaurants, media and entertainment, and even in services like schools and hospitals.
Fortaleza pointed out that common issues against the capitalist owners of these industries include labor contractualization; high cost of their products and services; organized fraud with their capture of regulatory agencies; and their control of political power through sponsorship of political parties to actual bribery.
PM came up with its own assumptions also to echo Oxfam’s analysis that the richest 1% is gaining control of more than half of the world’s wealth by 2016. The latter released its report on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where world leaders talk mainly about business and other global concerns.
Fortaleza said that similarly, the richest 50 in the Philippines is getting a bigger slice (almost a third) of country’s gross domestic product as their wealth increased by 428%, from $14 billion in 2008 to $74 billion in 2014.
The Philippine GDP, according to the World Bank, was estimated to value $272 billion in 2013. ###