Purpose of Church’s billion-peso fortune questioned by RH Bill advocate and Manila Standard columnist Elizabeth Angsioco
(SPOT.ph) In her Power Point column published in the Manila Standard yesterday, RH Bill advocate and National Chair of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines Elizabeth Angsioco revealed that the Church, which she described as "mega-rich," is "a multibillionaire religious and business organization." Angsioco enumerated 11 Catholic entities included in the Bank of the Philippine Islands’ top 100 stockholders as of March 31 with a total net worth of nearly P17.5 billion, making them the ninth richest institution in the country.
In her column, Angsioco explained that not many are aware of the Church’s financial holdings because people do not expect the Church to be involved in businesses. However, she wonders why the Church, proclaimed to be the protector of life, does not make its wealth available to help the poor. "It doesn’t use its billions to save the Catholic poor from hunger, sickness and death," Angsioco wrote.
"P17.5 billion is more than half of the total budget of the Department of Health which is P31.8 billion. We can only guess how many hospitals can be better equipped... how many lives can be saved if only the Church decides to put this money in people’s health-even only in Catholic people’s health," Angsioco said, adding that the amount could also remove about 2.5 million families from poverty.
Angsioco also mentioned that while the Catholic Church does provide means for education and healthcare, these institutions cannot always be afforded by the poor. "Catholic schools, which are the best in the country, are the most expensive," she wrote, and added that while Catholic hospitals aren’t the priciest, they are still too much for those under the poverty line.
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