Forbes list of richest Filipinos highlights gaping poor, rich divide

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MANILA, Philippines—The inclusive growth promised by President Benigno Aquino III still could not be felt by many Filipinos as the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Friday.

“The release of the list of Forbes richest Filipinos again highlights the widening gap between the rich and poor in the Philippines. It belies any claim of inclusive growth,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a statement.

“In the 2013 list, the 40 richest Filipinos had a combined wealth of $64.24 billion, up by $16.8 billion from the previous $47.43 billion in 2012. Their current combined wealth is nearly double the amount in 2011 which was at $34 billion,” he said.

Mall tycoon Henry Sy is listed as the richest man in the Philippines for the sixth time in a row with $12 billion net worth followed by Lucio Tan of the LT Group with $7.5 billion.

“The combined net worth of the Philippines’ 50 richest totaled $65.8 billion, more than a quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product,” Forbes said in its list released Thursday.

Reyes cited reports from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) that indicate the income growth of the middle and lower classes to be only four to eight percent in 2011.

“The claims of inclusive growth made by President Benigno Aquino III during his last State of the Nation Address are hollow and are belied by facts,” he said.

“There can be no inclusive growth so long as the entire economy is controlled by a few. Aquino has done little to even bridge the gap between rich and poor, let alone change the economy’s orientation,” Reyes said.

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