Bp. Jose Manguiran
The Catholic Church of the Philippines is aware that the poverty level in the Philippines is getting worse. The church has been trying to figure out a kind of development assistance that is liberating and advantageous to the poor.
As a backgrounder to the concept. of alternative development, that is pro poor, I will first describe the current models of development. Briefly, I will classify these models into four categories.
MODELS OF DEVELOPMENT
First Model Development by Sympathy:
The syrnpathizers are sentimental; they feel like the poor , suffer with the poor , cry with the poor. They believe that the best assistance they can give to the poor is by giving alms or by any form of’ charity. They like to put up “charitable institutions” and to solicit donations or dole outs for the poor.
Second Model Development by Philanthropy:
The philanthropists are experts in “cultural transfer, ” i.e. expert in transferring their culture. into the mind of the poor. The method of transferring is by establishing the so-called “Cultural Institutions” like Scholarship Grants, Research Libraries and Laboratories, Awards and Plaques of Appreciation. To run this institute, the Philanthropists turn their extra money into a Foundation.
Third Model Development. By Banking System:
The bankers believe that the cause of poverty is the lack of capital needed for production operation. They entice the people to transact loans from the Bank for capital.
Fourth Model Development by Inviting Foreign investment:
The economic planners of our country believe that the cause of poverty is unemployment and overpopulation. To solve these they invite foreign investors to come equipped with their advanced technology. To magnetize foreign investors, several laws of our country were amended and others are still to be amended in order to fit the requirements and demands of these investors. The scenic islands and beaches are reserved to become tourist havens, ideal sites for casinos and hotels , the agricultural lands are converted to industrial zones, Eco-zones and subdivisions for suburban living. To deplete the population, the government promote , the use of mechanical and chemical contraceptives.
THE POOR: AT THE PASSIVE POSITION; THE, OBJECT OF DEVELOPUENT
In the models of development described above, the poor is always at the passive position; always in the receiving end
• the poor is the receiver of sympathy to be pitied ,
• the poor is the receiver of grants to be taken for granted ,
• the poor are the receivers of loans to be indebted;
• The poor are tile receivers of employment to be employed as laborers.
In that passive position, the poor is the OBJECT to be acted upon; the OBJECT of development , in such a position, the poor is maintained as the market, the consumer, and the user, the audience and bystander.
THE POOR: AT THE ACTIVE POSITION; THE SUBJECT OF DEVELOPMENT
The Church recognizes and upholds the inherent right of the people to their own development . This is taught in the Papal Encyclical, Solicitudo Rei Socialis and I quote: “Respect the peoples’ right to development.” John Paul II.
The church’s role is to respect this right. To do this, I strongly recommend that the church should under take a twofold pastoral program:
– First, to assist the poor in confronting a shift in the development paradigm.
– Second, to provide a structure whereby the paradigm shift can be practiced.
DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM SHIFT
The role of the Church is to assist the poor in shifting from the passive object position to the active subject position. The “shifting” here is not a physical transposition but rather a cultural transformation which involves a process of extracting negative mentality out of the subconscious level, and at thc same time, replacing it with a positive concept. Extracting this negativity and replacing it with a positive one is by itself, already, a fundamental stage of development.
Since the poor are chained by a negative attitude of powerlessness, the Church should guide the poor to recognize his inherent power due him as a person and as baptized.
Since the poor is cultured to remain the receiver of development, the church should point out to him that he has the power to give, that he can be the giver of development. The church must awaken in the poor the realization that in fact and in deeds, he has been giving support to the rich. The media are silent on this score but they arc noisy in telling the world that the rich is forever helping the poor,
Let me give some glaring examples of how the poor is giving support to the rich:
In the Report of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference Vol. VII, 1992, I quote: “The rich country of America has given loans to the poor countries in the amount of $ 51 Billion in 1988″, but the poor countries repaid America in the amount of $ 86 Billion.”
In our country, the Philippine government, that means the poor citizens, “paid the behest loan of the rich private corporations” (International Solidarity News digest * 7 Oct, 1992.). The most anomalous case is that of the Coconut Levy Fund which is really owned by the coconut planters, many of whom are marginalized farmers, amounting to P 100 Billion but, managed and used by the rich Filipino businessmen and politicians.
By numerical advantage, the poor people who deposit their money in the Bank give hard earned
Money to the Bankers; when they insure their property and personal safety, they give good
earning to the Insurance Company; when they bet in lotto or in masiao, they give millions of money
to the gambling syndicate; when they smoke and drink, they enrich the manufacturers of wine and cigarettes and when political elections take place, they give power to the politicians.
It is anomalous that the poor is giving wealth to those who are already rich , the worst anomaly is when he is not even aware that lie is giving benefits to the rich. Hence the role of the church in this regard is to make the poor recognize his power to give and assist him to manage and control this power for his own advantage.
Since through the years the poor has acquired the habit of dependency and of silence, the time has come for the poor to be given the opportunity to participate in the decision making process on matters that affect the lives and future of the poor. The poor should be encouraged to become independent and self reliant.
Since the spirit of profits and consumerism dominates the present economic system, the Church should teach about sharing of resources.
Since property ownership by Corporate Boards of multi national businesses is considered absolute. the Church should advocate the principle of stewardship over creation or thee principle of social accountability of ownership.
Since the multi national corporations and the chambers of commerce are monopolizing die control of supply and demand of goods as well as the market for the goods, the Church should promote cooperatives in communities.
Since the current hi tech industrial model of development is unfriendly, to mankind and to tile natural life support system due to its poisonous chemicals and waste. the church should give emphasis on harmony with nature, thee creation theology, creation spirituality and integral development.
THE BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITY (BEC): THE SUPPORT STRUCTURE
The paradigm shift by cultural transformation is a long process and the values we want to live by call not be realized by mere lectures at seminars.
The positive values I mentioned above, like awareness, participation, self reliance, sharing, stewardship, cooperativism, integral development can never be internalized in a classroom setting. The transformation process towards the appropriation of these positive values by the poor demands a COMMUNITY structure like the BEC whereby the poor can live internally and practice those values as they interact everyday.
Through the BEC , we hope that the poor will become the agents of his own development.