By Leslie Ann Aquino
For the Catholic Church, the report saying Filipinos are among those living below the international poverty line is a challenge to everyone especially to Christians.
Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tirona, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace, said it is a challenge for Christians to be mindful of their actions towards the less fortunate, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and marginalized.
“Let us examine how our words and inactions affect those without voice and power,” he said in a statement.
Last November 19, the Catholic Church in the Philippines marked the First World Day of the Poor as declared by Pope Francis.
In the Philippines, farmers, fishermen and children, about 21.9 million Filipinos, consistently are the poorest sectors according to the 2017 poverty report of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
NASSA’s Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez said the faithful cannot continue to be blinded by this injustice.
But, he stressed the poor should not be treated as “beggars” of assistance.
“They should be regarded with dignity, with the same importance we give ourselves. And we can only do so by improving our service delivery, by doing away with dole-out mentality, and by engaging the most vulnerable during decision and policy making,” said Gariguez.
“It cannot be business as usual when dealing with our poor brothers and sisters. The government and the church must combine its resources to truly improve their plight. We can start by establishing better coordination lines during disaster response, and by being more accountable to our people,” he added.
Gariguez said this is also the reason why NASSA/Caritas Philippines has been striving to strengthen their advocacy for the integration of humanitarian responses and development programming.