Philippines must face squarely United Nations report

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The report is the UN Human Development Report 2014, which was officially released last July 24 in Tokyo.

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It must be faced by President Aquino and the Philippine Congress, because its contents are far-reaching in the unfolding story of our country, and are as wrenching as the Supreme Court’s decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

There’s no hiding from its message to us: “Of 187 member states of the UN, the Philippines has attained this year the rank and distinction of no. 117th in the world in terms of human development..”

An unpleasant reality
The unpleasant reality is this:

As we proudly unfurled this year our joining the club of 100 (countries with a population of 100 million or more—with our numbers firmly ranked as the 12th largest in the world), we coincidentally receded in the human development barometer to the company of countries with rankings in the stratosphere of futility and ineffectiveness.

Likewise, as we proudly proclaim to the world that our people are our greatest resource, and send some 10-12 million of them to the factories, offices and households of countries all over the world, we are faltering in the tasks that truly matter–caring for our people, educating them and securing their quality of life.

Why the UN report matters
First, a point of disclosure. I want to acknowledge that I owe to former president Fidel V. Ramos, the 12th president of our republic, my discovery of this startling distinction of our country.

Until I read his two-part series in the Manila Bulletin that discussed the report, I frankly had no inkling of its existence and its contents. The series ran in this sequence:

Part 1: “The comparative SONA: UN-Philippines”

(Manila Bulletin, August 2, 2014)

Part 2: “Harsh realities: Philippine decline in UN rankings”

(Manila Bulletin, August 10, 2014).

His series led me to a search online and in the city for a copy of and information about the UN report. I am happy to say that I have secured a copy of it, and have since read it with great interest.

The UN Human Development Report is a project and publication of the United Nations Development Program, dating back to 1990 when the project was started.

The 2014 report covers 185 member states of the United Nations (out of 193), plus Hong Kong and the Palestinian territories. Eight UN member states are not included because of lack of data.

The average Human development Index (HDI) of regions of the World and groups of countries are also included in the report for comparison.

The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, a developing or an underdeveloped country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.

The 2014 Report calculates HDI values based on estimates for 2013.

Philippine HDI: How we compare
In the 214 report, the Philippines recorded an HDI of 0.660, which ranks it 117th overall.

This is how we compare to the highest and the lowest in the index:

1.Norway           0.944 HDI
2.Australia         0.933 HDI

186. Congo         0.338 HDI
187 Niger           0.337HDI

ASEAN countries Comparative HDI
Singapore      .901
Brunei            .852
Malaysia        .773
Indonesia       .684
Philippines     .660
Vietnam         .638
Cambodia       .584
Laos                .569
Burma            .524

The first Human Development Report in 1990 opened with the simply stated premise that has guided all subsequent Reports: “People are the real wealth of a nation.”

HDR Co-founder, 1998 Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen says: “Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it.”

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, avers that “the human development approach has profoundly affected an entire generation of policy-makers and development specialists around the world—including thousands within the UN system.”

Millennium development goals
The improvement of HDI in individual countries is often discussed and charted in conjunction with the achievement of the Millennium Developments goals – targets which were embraced by UN members during the Millennium Summit at the start of the 21st century.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established at the Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

These are:
1.To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2.To achieve universal primary education

3.To promote gender equality and empower women

4.To reduce child mortality

5.To improve maternal health

6.To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

7.To ensure environmental sustainability

8.To develop a global partnership for development

As of 2013 progress towards the goals has been uneven. Some countries achieved many goals, while others were not on track to realize any.

In the case of the Philippines, and with the deadline of 2015 drawing near, the government has monitored and charted Philippine progress in the MDG through the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Missing the MDG targets
President Ramos devotes Part 2 of his series to the subject of whether the country will meet its MDG targets.

And he quotes extensively from a report by Tony Lopez in BiznewsAsia.

Lopez contends that the signs point to the Philippines failing to meet its Millenium challenge. He reports as follows:

“According to the Philippine progress report on the MDG, the Philippines has already missed the following targets:

“Goal 1: Halve extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015. FAILED.

“Goal 2: Ensure universal primary education. All kids must be able to finish primary school. FAILED.

“Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women. FAILED.

“Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. FAILED.

“Goal 5: Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, number of mothers dying while giving birth. FAILED.

“Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. FAILED ON TUBERCULOSIS. PASSING ON MALARIA.

“Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability by integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs to reverse the loss of environmental resources. FAILED.

“Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. VERY GOOD.”

117: The scarlet number
Whether we use the MDG or the HDI as the key hole, President Ramos is surely correct when he says that “the Index should be seen as a country’s development scorecard for the year similar to a college student’s report card at school end – which is highly-prized, as proof of one’s competence, competitiveness, and capacity for higher achievements.”

This has to be the concern of both the executive and legislative branches of government, for they must work together in designing the policies and the programs that will enable the nation to progress significantly in human development.

It does no good for either branch to point to the other as the one responsible for No. “117.”

Like Hawthorne’s tale The Scarlet Letter, we Filipinos should adopt “117” as a scarlet number to remind us of how government, both the President and Congress, have failed the nation in their responsibilities to our people, particularly in the care and nurture of our young, who are the sum of our tomorrows.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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21 Comments

  1. Sir, you left Thailand out of your list of ASEAN countries. It’s 2013 HDI was 0.722.

  2. I really thought it was not too bad- similar to Indonesia and Malaysia. Obviously we do need to improve, but as others have pointed out we are a plutocracy and changing that is hard.

  3. I agree to the comments of Anima A. Agrava. This is the result of voting a President who have no ambition to lead the country. The people put him there with the help of that Optical scan of the Comelec. It turned out that this man is only good in baril-barilan – laro ng bata.

    Gloria Arroyo’s administration is graft ridden but she does her homework intelligently and decide which medicine to prescribe for the good of the Filipinos, though she knows the medicine is very painful for a few moments but in the end will redound to the benefit of the people – like the VAT.

    COMPARISON:
    Gloria is intelligent and prepared to lead the country to growth.
    BS Aquino is a mediocre and not prepared to lead the country. He followed the dictates of Sick cretary A BAD – Tuwid na daan to where – down the drain.

    • VAT has been in place since Cory’s time, and it has been expanded continuously under each succeeding administration.

      Although it can be very effective at raising revenue, VAT is considered by some to be regressive because the poor bear a disproportionate share (relative to income) of the burden of this consumption-based tax. VAT is the largest revenue source for some governments who then can afford redistributive education, health and welfare programs.

  4. Virgencita g. jawid on

    I am 100% behind Ms . Cahayag’s lamentations if only our leaders and politicians seek their conscience on how our countrymen our suffering on their day to day living…if only they can come out from their flashy offices and residences..look around….horrendous traffic..chocking prices of commodities…poor people go up jeepneys and clean the shoes or slippers of other people for a measly c pesos…lining up for medical attention in public hospitals…sometimes degrading themselves of asking money from passengers with burial..medicines..others..If these happenings are more in other countries then only in the Philippines you will experience…No more fun i think ..sad very sad indeed. But if only given the opportunity to improve themselves FILIPINOS are very resilient and resourceful….Government must seek and find the solution.

  5. Wow! Magical Number 117!!! The Yellow Mob should be lobbying for Penoy’s last SONA 2015 should be held at the UN’s General Assembly so the whole world should be a witness to how great strides RP has achieved in governance, religiously respecting constitutional laws, totally eradicating poverty, totally dedicated to solving its economy-sapping traffic problems due to ill-discipline drivers, and due to well paved infrastructure roads – 12,000 Kilometers all in all -as boasted from his last SONA, caring too well for its illegal squatters euphemistically deodorized as informal settlers, urban jungle thugs of all sorts – muggers, stick- up men, riding-in-tandem menace, well-cared and attended to their very needs Typhoon victims, smugglers, hoarders, and what have you….palakpak mga honorable na Thieves Senators and Congressmen, SONA ito ng taga Sulsol ninyo’ng Penoy with Public’s taxpayers money – PDAF and DAP. Clap, clap, clap, clap…..

  6. “Not underground Tube like London, Manila is below sea level and the destructive flood onslaught in Metro Manila is not feasible for underground transport (subway or tube). Above ground rail road….”

    …and the Tunnel Channel runs above sea surface from the English side to Calais on the French side…am I seeing a mirage from those numerous across the Channel Ferry ride taken???

  7. Diosdado Casera on

    I have been following the HDI of our country for some years, and yes we deteriorated in ranking, not because we regressed on many aspects but because many countries have developed much faster than us. I remember that in 2012 we ranked 112th in the HDI. We have barely improved our numbers since then, while other countries, including Indonesia which was lower than us improved much. I am hopeful that what the government is doing today would improve our numbers in the years to come. It takes time to develop a country. I have two children in Finland (which consistently ranked very high in HDI) who said that we should emulate two things from Finland if we want to improve much in HDI: Free education from kinder to college (with free lunch!) and free hospitalization. This is also being done by Norway (#1 in HDI) and all other scandinavian countries.

  8. Dapat din maimbestigahan si FVR sa ginawa niyang PPA ng binigyan siya ng emergency powers noong nagakaroon ng power crisis. Dyan nagsimula ang high costs ng mga kuryente natin.

    • Sisisihin mo pa si FVR e kundi sa kanya baka hanggang ngayon wala pang koryente sa lugar nyo at dahil walang koryente baka mas mahal pa sa ngayon ang bayad sa koryente. Kanino bang administrasyon tayo laging brown out?

  9. Amen to that Salvacion Cahayag. It’s the fault of the “YELLOW MOBS VOTERS” for electing PNoy to the Presidency. Pinoys are sentimental animals. After the death of Cory, they voted PNoy as President even if he is not ready for the herculean job.Look at our politicians – what kind of Congress do we have? They are all rubber stamps of Abnoy, aside from being corrupt and magnanakaw of the highest degree. Gone are the kind of Congress manned by the likes of Senators Ambrosio Padilla, Rosseller Lim, Lorenzo Tanada, Claro M Recto, Raul Manglapus, Arturo Tolentino, Ferdinand Marcos (before he became President), and other illustrious and intelligent politicians. The Present Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) is populated by mediocre politicians – actors, actresses, undergraduates, boxers, and what have you.
    Kasalanan ng mga botante – madali sila mauto-uto.

    • Only in the philippines – Papaano kaya hindi uunlad ang pilipinas wala na bang gagawin ang mga pinoy kung hindi magbatikos, pangunahan, paratangan ng kung anu ano sa presidente? Let the president do his job…and if ever he abuses his power let the justice system deal with it. Naparaming pakialamero, tsismoso, nagmamarunong, mahilig pumapel, walang galang na pinoy ang pinangungunahan ang pamumuno ng presidente na puro hipokrito/hipokrita na animoy mga walang tinatagong baho at kasalanan. Maraming umaangal bakit hindi umuunlad ang pilipinas…paano uunlad kung walang “unity?” siraan ng siraan, Sa mga tao na rin nanggagaling ang mahinang pagunlad ng isang bansa…..kailangan ng kasipagan hindi lang sa gawa kung hindi pati na rin sa salita. Sa ikauunlad ng bayan disiplina ang kailangan!!! Huwag isisi lahat kay pangulong Aquino…

  10. Every Pilipino must first CHANGE his values, character, morals and perception of a real honest and sincere leader that he must elect and put in public office ( from President down to Barangay Captain). It is the people who must first be morally upright and honest so that they will choose their leaders like them in their own mold and likeness. People must be discerning and must not allow their emotions to be carried away by shrewd and corrupt politicians. The people must themselves denounce peudo leadership clothe with lamb skin but in reality are wolves and crocodiles with thick skin and sharp fangs that gnaw the wealth of the country!

  11. I remember reading–That a few short decades ago ;this country was rated as 3rd or 4th best performing economically in the region….

    What happened !

    Let us be Frank–“Greed that what happened”

    Those in positions of Power and trust–“Just milked the country dry”

    I read in this newspaper not so long a go –That we are run by Families –19 in total..These families always have representatives in congress…They go back for decades

    They are powerful dynasties–In their ranks are High court Judges and even Presidents ..We have powerful monopolies–all controlled by powerful families ..

    This stranglehold, is taking huge amounts of monies–meant to go into helping this country redeem itself–and it goes almost immediately, into the pockets of a privileged few..

    When the lawmakers themselves are involved in this hypocrisy–then what can the ordinary people do?

    Other than writing to the Times–Not much !

    I remain
    Yours Faithfully
    David Meyer MD.D.P.M..PHD

  12. I just looked at pictures from the uk’s london underground trains from the 1970’s. There quite horrible & dirty & at times unsafe. But money was spent on sorting it out. It carries millions of people per year & moves them very quickly & efficiently all around london. God only knows how much congestion there would be without it. Now it takes great political will to have something like that. Imagine if manila were to start building an underground tube. Thjink of the economic benefits ( well if done correctly ). Millions of people would be put to work. Its difficult to work out all the economic benefits from even starting a project like that. Then when completed think of how much traffic would instantly be removed from the streets of manila.
    Just something to think about.

    • Not underground Tube like London, Manila is below sea level and the destructive flood onslaught in Metro Manila is not feasible for underground transport (subway or tube). Above ground rail road transport is what should be fully explored and developed. Also, the bus transport should be operated only by ONE private or semi-govt. Enterprise to attain synergies and one firm transport national policy. This is similar to the Metro Transit Authority of New York and New Jersey! This will rationalise and nationalised metro transit business. Though eliminating the jeepney passenger business need political will, it could be that displaced jeepney drivers can be absorbed by the Metro TrAnsit Authority. The Authority can be operated on as profit making venture with private bus owners and the govt. as partners, with busses revalued in exchange for shares of stock.

  13. Anima A. Agrava on

    Further proof that after four years of running our country the dishonest, untruthful and corrupt Aquino administration has really achieved nothing that can be credited it. The continued growth of our economy is the result of the wrk done by former President Ramos, even former President Estrada but most of all former President Gloria M. Arroyo. In fact, President Aquino and his people DERAILED the growth train in 2011 by cancelling Arroyo projects in the second half of 2010–and yet the 2010 GDP growth result was, still thanks to the also work done by the also corrupt Arroyo administration in the first half of 2010, was one of the globe’s highest successes.
    And now in the last two years of the fraud-ridden Tuwid na Daan governance, the Philippines will suffer HIGHER inflation rates that wll hit the poorest families most of all.

  14. All is well and good to have this scorecard. But we should address the elephant in the room. The propensity of the elite to bend laws and regulations to suit their gargantuan appetite for corruption. There is no shame. There is no limit. There is no conscience. No amount of evaluation will fix the main problem of systemic corruption. We have to fix first the foundation of our country. The Elite should first abide by the rules. Only then can we move forward.

  15. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    The 2014 UN Human Development Report that ranked the Philippines as
    No. 117th of the 187 member countries is clear proof of how the country
    is a dismal failure that is in contrast to what this corrupr president is crowing.
    If only these billions of taxpayers money had been used to alleviate the poor rather
    than using it to buy and bribe these crocodiles in congress in the impeachment of
    corona, or if these billions that were corrupted and squandered were used to create
    jobs for the millions that are unemployed, the country should be much better.
    It is hard to imagine how these crocodiles like abnoy, abad, drilon, belmonte, etc
    can stomack seing the plight of Filipinos who cannot make both ends meet. It is
    hard to imagine how these corrupt people can sleep at night knowing fully well
    that they are feeding their families from taxpayers money. Ang kakapal talaga ang
    mga pagmumukha.