MANILA, Philippines - The rich in the Philippines are getting richer, while the number of poor families continue to increase, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
On Thursday, Forbes magazine released its list of 40 richest in the Philippines, who saw their combined wealth increase by $13 billion to $47.4 billion this year.
Mall tycoon Henry Sy topped the list with a net worth of $9.1 billion, up $1.9 billion from last year.
Other top businessmen in the Forbes' richest list are tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan, ports magnate Enrique Razon Jr., John Gokongwei, Jr., David Consunji, Andrew Tan, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, George Ty, Roberto Ongpin and Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.
“The net worth of these tycoons appear obscene, happening amid a sea of poverty and hunger in the Philippines. The gap between the rich and poor has grown over the past years. We now have 15 billionaires on one hand and some 11.2 million poor families on the other hand,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Reyes noted the growing number of billionaires and poor people belie the Aquino administration's claims of inclusive growth.
"The Aquino government has failed to address the growing gap between rich and poor because it has no real program for land reform and rural poverty, no sustainable program for job-generation, and no plan for industrialization. It views gains in the stock market as a reliable indicator of growth, instead of looking at the actual conditions of the people," he said.
Reyes noted the wealth of the tycoons, who own the top companies in the country, have been increasing while workers' wages have barely moved.
According to Bayan, the net income of the country's top 1,000 corporations grew from P116 billion in 2001 to P756 billion in 2009. However, the basic wages of workers only increased from P222 a day in 2001 to P291 a day in 2009.
Bayan also cited a study by Ibon Foundation, which compared Forbes' report on the wealthiest Filipinos with the results of the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey.
"In 2009, the net worth of the 25 richest Filipinos of $21.4 billion is equivalent to the combined annual income of the country’s poorest 11.1 million families... The top ten in the latest Forbes list already control almost everything from energy, transportation, real-estate, mining, banking, toll ways and many others. They are part of the powerful 1% of Philippine society," Reyes said.