ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Election campaign begins: the challenge of poverty at the center

Monday, 15 February 2016 politics   poverty  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The campaign for presidential elections in the Philippines has officially begun. There are five main presidential candidates: current Vice President Jojo Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, senator Grazia Poe and Minister Mar Roxas.
Among the "hot" topics of the election campaign, in a nation that has exceeded 100 million people (the 12th most populous nation in the world), there are the key challenges for the country's development: unemployment, infrastructure, social services but also food shortages and poverty. In 2015 the "Global Hunger Index" in the Philippines, calculated by the ''International Food Policy Research Institute" was 20.1, therefore the problem of hunger is defined as "serious". Food security is therefore one of the themes that will be highlighted during the election campaign: economy, say the observers, must promote "food production systems and implement sustainable agricultural practices that increase productivity and strengthen the adaptability and resilience to extreme climate change, very frequent in the country.
The challenge between the contenders will be decided mainly by those who manage to gain the favor of the young, who make up 40 percent of the 54 million registered voters in the Philippines.
Among the candidates, Grazia Poe, adopted daughter of the famous actor Fernando Poe, is very popular especially among the poorest segments of the population. Former interior minister and candidate of the incumbent government of Benigno Aquino Jr., is Mar Roxas, a member of the financial bourgeoisie, who analysts believe does not meet the favor of the poor masses.
Rodrigo Duterte, 70 year-old mayor of Davao (Mindanao), is nicknamed "The Executioner" for his "iron fist" in fighting crime. Jejomar Binay, 73, grew up in poverty and leads the main opposition party and is the current vice president, but in his career he has had to endure several allegations of corruption. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is a lawyer and judge of the International Criminal Court.
On May 9, 2016 the vote will be both for the president and for parliament and for the local governments, in a political dispute that is putting at risk a total of about 18 thousand seats.
The Filipino Bishops stressed in a message to the population that the Church does not support a particular political leader. The faithful will have to verify the evangelical consistency of each candidate, in words and actions, bearing in mind "Christ as their model, who came to serve and not to be served". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/02/2016)