The Philippine economy is getting better, so the government says. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), “the Philippine economy posted a 7.8 percent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2013 from 6.5 percent the previous year. The Q1 growth is the highest so far under the Aquino administration and also the third consecutive quarter of more than 7.0 percent GDP growth.”
But compared to global standards, majority of the Filipino people are still mired in poverty! According to the National Wages and Productivity Commission, the average daily minimum wage outside the National Capital Region is Php 250. That’s C$ 6.25 per day, mostly for a family of five! NSCB report points out that “during the first semester of 2012, a Filipino family of five needed PhP 5,458 [C$ 136.45] to meet basic food needs every month and Php 7,821 [C$ 195.52] to stay above the poverty threshold (basic food and non-food needs) every month.”
The Philippine economy is getting better but there is no trickle down effect! The poor people do not experience the economic growth. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer!
Then we hear about the increasing military expenditure of the Government of the Philippines:
- The Philippine Navy awaits delivery of 5 helicopters.
- The Philippine Air Force will get new warplanes by 2014.
- The Department of National Defense is buying 2 brand new warships.
- The Philippines is seeking modern military hardware from the US.
Our allies–US, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Germany–know our economy is getting better. We may have extra financial resources to buy their military products and defense services. China is threatening our national sovereignty and the US, as well as our other allies, are selling their military products to us. Majority of the Filipino people think this will boost our national pride and dignity, since many feel that we are being bullied by our neighboring countries as a poor nation.
Militarization is a fake basis of national security and dignity. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7 NIV)
Our people are still suffering in poverty–harsh poverty! I pray that our government would invest more of our national resources on health, education, housing, infrastructure, livelihood programs. Our country would be stronger if there is genuine justice and peace within us.
As we face the challenges of, and opportunities for, peace and reconciliation in these times of poverty and militarization, let us start by seeking God’s face: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
May the creativity of the Creator enhance our mind. May the peace of Christ embrace our heart. May the energy of the Comforter strengthen our will.
Now, let’s roll-up our sleeves and go to work!