Provinces in Mindanao still lags behind the provinces in Luzon in terms of human development.
According to the newly released 2012/2013 Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR), among the lowest in Human Development Index (HDI), almost all were from Mindanao with the exception of Masbate, adding that most of are conflict-ridden areas.
HDI is a summary measure of human development, computed using the average achievement in the three basic dimensions: for human development are for everyone to be healthy; to get educated and to have a decent standard of living.
The provinces were Lanao del Sur (0.416), Masbate (0.406), Zamboanga del Norte (0.384), Sarangani (0.371), Davao Oriental (0.356), Agusan del Sur (0.354), Zamboanga (0.353), Tawi-Tawi (0.310), Maguindanao (0.300) and Sulu at the lowest (0.216).
“Deprivation and injustice, rather than hardship alone, lie at the armed of armed conflict.
As human insecurity increases from armed conflict, people turn away from those social and productive activities that could have facilitated the development of their human potential,” the report stated.
Meanwhile, human development was at its highest level in Luzon provinces. The report showed that 10 provinces in Luzon recorded the highest HDI. These include Benguet (0.849), Batanes (0.789), Rizal (0.734), Cavite (0.709), Bulacan (0.699), Bataan (0.698), Laguna (0.695), Nueva Vizcaya (0.678), Ilocos Norte (0.641) and Pampanga 0.634.
On the other hand, Metro Manila recorded an HDI of 0.805.
The PHDR analyzed 79 provinces in the country over the period from 1997 to 2009. It also highlighted inequality and disparity across regions in the country and the slow pace of development.
Reacting to the report, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan admitted that there is more to be done for human development in the country.
“The country are doing quite well in the economic front but not so well in other areas, particularly in social sectors and poverty reduction,” he said.
He added that the PHDR is very helpful especially now that the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) is being updated. He mentioned that some of the aspects of the PDP update were to generate employment, particularly high quality jobs and poverty reduction.
For his part, Toshihiro Tanaka, country director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said that local governments should act on the matter, not to only concentrate development in the cities, but also in the countryside.
“Future legislation is clearly needed to change the current city-centric emphasis of devolution and to redefine the powers of local governments,” he added.
The report also evaluated the country’s per capita income, health, public spending and
years of schooling, among other determinants of human development.
At the provincial level, those that had the highest HDI include Benguet, Batanes, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan, Bataan, Laguna, Nueva Vizcaya, Ilocos Norte and Pampanga, which are mostly in Luzon.
The report also stated that the five provinces that improved in terms of HDI from 1987 to 2009 were Benguet, Biliran, Cagayan, Catanduanes and Nueva Vizcaya.
Tanaka said that HDI improvements will only be achieved if there is proper fiscal planning at the provincial level.
“No serious geographical obstacles to human development can never be addressed without giving full rein to province-level planning fiscal responsibility,” he added.
Mayvelin U. Caraballo and Kristyn Nika M. Lazo