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50 richest Filipinos: Share-the-wealth challenge

/ 05:01 AM January 26, 2020

Some years back, American economist and former director of The Earth Institute of Columbia University Jeffrey Sachs wrote an article about what he called “the ability to improve the world through transformative philanthropy”—that if today’s billionaires were to pool their resources, “they could outflank the world’s governments in ending poverty and pandemic disease.”

He named John D. Rockefeller, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal and George Soros, among others, who, on their own initiative—by sharing a part of their wealth—have succeeded in fighting disease, poverty and other areas of human concerns such as the “eradication of hookworm in the US, the development of the yellow fever vaccine, elimination of malaria-transmitting strain of mosquito in Brazil, funding the Asian Green Revolution, etc.”

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Bill and Melinda Gates, for example, have sufficiently funded “the extension of basic health care to the poorest in the world to end the pandemics of AIDS, TB and malaria, and address the crying need for safe drinking water for 1 billion people.”

There are 2,153 billionaires in the world today.

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That includes 50 in this country as named by Forbes magazine, among them Manuel Villar, the Sy siblings, John Gokongwei Jr., Enrique Razon Jr., Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Lucio Tan, the Campos siblings, Ramon Ang, the Consunji siblings, the Ty siblings, etc.

The Sy siblings lead the pack, and Menardo Jimenez is at No. 50. They are in various kinds of businesses: construction, power generation, hotels, restaurants, banking, media, pharmaceutical, insurance, property development, retail, etc.

The SM group, for example, owns the biggest bank in the country and “over 200 companies in the Philippines, including 73 shopping malls plus another six in mainland China.”

Our research is still incomplete as to how many high-rise condominium and office buildings they have and how big their real estate properties are.

It can be mind-boggling when we include the other billionaires’ massive holdings, which can make people suspect that this country’s reputed poverty is fake.

Improving the world through philanthropy has been proven to be doable, with generous rich people willing to share their wealth with the less fortunate.

Can it be done here?

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Who among the 50 shall step forward and show courage and magnanimity?

It would be surprising, historic even, if this challenge is accepted, however grudgingly; it shall be an event never seen before in this country—the “callous rich” finally showing sparks of patriotism and concern for the less fortunate through the proposed mechanism below:

A “Philippine Alliance for Humanity” is organized, initially with four founding members—persons of probity and proven honesty—who renounce in writing the will to earn from such an endeavor.

Five additional members from the Big 50 (or their authorized representatives) complete the membership to nine, to form the core of the alliance or foundation.

It is hoped that the rest of the 50 will cast away suspicion and distrust and support the alliance, with monthly donations direct to designated banks.

No one can touch the money as stipulated in the Securities and Exchange Commission-approved papers, except only upon the authority of the majority of the nine members, who shall decide where to spend the money and when the money can be withdrawn.

Depository banks shall post in all their branches or publish weekly the existing balance of the charitable fund.

The initial goal of this social entrepreneurship program is to build: (1) evacuation centers, (2) rain catchment minireservoirs in barangays without safe drinking water, and (3) senior citizens’ health centers, following the lead of President Duterte’s “Build, build, build” program for economic and industrial prosperity.

Thus, the “Philippine Alliance for Humanity’s” money pool is philanthropy that will go to building urgently needed infrastructure for the health, security and safety of the people. How about it, good sirs and madames?

Believe! “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)

Eddie Ilarde is a former senator, lifetime achievement awardee for radio and television, freelance writer and author, founding president-chair of Golden Eagles Society international Inc. for the welfare and dignity of senior citizens, and founding chair of the Maharlika Movement for National Transformation. He is heard 1:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in his program “Kahapon Lamang” over dzBB AM radio.

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TAGS: Bill Gates, foundation, Jeffrey Sachs, pandemic, Poverty, The Earth Institute of Columbia University
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