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Unemployment adds to Philippine pandemic woes

At least 4.14 million people are jobless as priest issues dire poverty warning

Unemployment adds to Philippine pandemic woes

Workers march in Manila during a Labor Day protest in this file photo. (Photo: Basilio Sepe)

Unemployment in the Philippines has become a worse problem than the coronavirus, according to a Catholic priest following the release of a government report revealing that more than 4 million people are out of work.

Millions of Filipinos are being forced to beg and line up for food handouts, said Father Emman Afable of Sorsogon.

He was speaking following the release of a government report on June 7 that revealed 4.14 million people were out of work in May compared with 3.4 million in March.

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“In my parish alone, we receive hundreds of letters begging for help each day. We donate groceries and other offerings which are snapped up immediately. People are hungry and many are getting poorer,” Father Afable told UCA News.

He said community pantries that have sprung up in Manila and other areas will not be enough to feed the poor.

“Community pantries and church donations are not sustainable if there are fewer donors and more people are getting hungry. Today in my parish, we have fewer benefactors and more people begging,” Father Afable added.

We should not really be banking on church support in providing jobs or feeding the people

The priest warned the situation will get worse if the Philippine government allows corrupt officials to divert and pocket funds meant for the welfare of the people.

“We should not really be banking on church support in providing jobs or feeding the people. The power of the purse is with the government. So, unless the government steps up to stop those pocketing money for the people, we are in a sinking ship,” Father Afable told UCA News.

“There are many groups now calling to end corruption in government. Let them serve as the moral voice of the people to seek reform in government.” 

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