ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Unemployment and new poverty: lockdown due to the pandemic has a serious economic and social impact

Tuesday, 2 June 2020 poverty   coronavirus   economy   solidarity   civil society   unemployment   work  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The pandemic and the lockdown imposed to contain Covid-19 have a serious impact on millions of destitute, marginalized or people who survive thanks to a daily wage in the Philippines. According to experts, the crisis will have strong economic repercussions and create millions of new poor people, worsening economic and social inequalities. This is what Catherine Dela Cruz, Catholic volunteer engaged in Manila in assistance and solidarity programs promoted by the Church, confirms to Fides: "The poor are experiencing the uncertainty of food supply and the certainty of hunger. The poor communities in urban areas are heavily affected by the community quarantine. Many have lost their jobs and, with the lockdown imposed since 15 March, many have no way of obtaining food".
Ecclesial organizations are helping the poor in many ways and in different areas with basic necessities such as rice, food, vegetables, meat and fish, in collaboration with government agencies and civil society associations. Flaviano Villanueva, founder of the "Arnold Janssen Kalinga" Foundation, committed to feeding the poor of Manila, tells Fides that "in this difficult moment everyone must take part in the mission and that is to show love and solidarity with those who need it". The Foundation is a place to accompany homeless people to change their lives. It provides a holistic, systematic and dignified approach to help destitute or marginalized people improve their lives and re-integrate the social fabric.
Recently, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of Manila, urged everyone to charity as a "gateway" to holiness, calling for mutual support among people during the epidemic.
Given that the country was already facing huge social and economic inequalities, there are many sectors of the population affected economically by the epidemic, although the government has eased restrictions since 1 June to restart the economy. About 70% of businesses can reopen in June. However, according to observers, 70% of workers may not return to work as many businesses or small businesses have started to lay off workers because of the block and loss of income.
Among the most disadvantaged categories, over 75,000 drivers of small and large transportation in Manila have had no salary in the past three months. And more than 50,000 part-time teachers in colleges, schools and universities have been victims of the "no lessons, no salary" policy.
Academics, political advisors, finance experts and civil society leaders are discussing the impact of Covid-19 on the economies and people of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, evaluating opportunities for greater regional cooperation.
According to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), the coronavirus pandemic threatens health, livelihoods and social well-being in much of Asia and the Pacific. The ADB has responded to the crisis since its earliest stages, focusing on a wide range of challenges related to the public health emergency, its economic fallout and the path of incentives towards recovery.
Over $ 5 billion from the ADB has helped alleviate tax tensions in developing economies in countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and the Philippines. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/6/2020)





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