A pretty picture of poverty


It’s a pretty headline that should serve the Duterte administration well, although it refers to a period before he became President of the nation of more than 100 million people: Poverty drops to 21.6% in 2015.

Official data shows “a statistically significant decrease between 2012 and 2015” in the so-called poverty incidence among Filipinos during those two years under the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

But a closer look at the real numbers provides an uncomfortable truth: Nearly 22 million Filipinos still remain poor and hungry. While we rejoice over the fact that there are now less people who live in poverty, from 24.156 million in 2012, we cannot just forget about the 21.811 million who still cannot afford to have proper meals and send their children to school.

The Philippines, as a nation, and our government, continue to fail miserably in the country’s goal of reducing poverty under its avowed commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In an in-depth look at poverty reduction in the Philippines, The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) took note of the fact that the government committed to reduce poverty to 16.6 percent by 2015. “This means that from 2010 to 2015, an estimated 10 million poor Filipinos must rise above poverty,” the UNDP noted.

Juxtaposed against the footnote “a statistically significant decrease between 2012 and 2015,” the numbers tell the real story. A 16.6 percent goal under the MDGs versus the actual results of 21.6 percent reflects a 5-percentage-point disparity that speaks louder than what the country’s economic managers try to convey to the people.

As early as February 2014, then-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has conceded that it was untenable for the Philippines to hit its poverty reduction goals. “It is already a given that we are likely to miss out on the MDG of reducing poverty to 16.6 percent next year,” he told members of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) during its general assembly.

What the country needs from the economic managers appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte is not a false sense of victory or sugarcoated statements that sweeten the bitter truth, but measurable concrete results that can withstand public scrutiny.

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), both the poor and non-poor are confronted with various risks, and for poverty incidence to be reduced in the Philippines the government must provide an effective social protection system. “Despite the presence of various programs and responses to major risks, these have remained fragmented and there is a need for better cohesion and convergence among key agencies and programs (e.g., livelihood, hunger mitigation, and disaster preparedness programs).”

In its publication Poverty in the Philippines: Causes, Constraints, and Opportunities the ADB emphasizes the need to come up with a national strategy, as well as build local capacity and enhance the ability of national agencies to link with local government units in delivering social protection systems.

Due to the government’s limited resources, the Asian financial institution also recommended that multi-stakeholder partnerships be forged for resource mobilization.

To an extent, the Duterte administration seems to be on the right track with Ambisyon Natin 2040, which seeks to put the necessary measures in place for the Philippines to eradicate poverty among other aspirations of the Filipino.

Here is a window of opportunity for the economic managers to take the initiative and make it work. Forget about making yourselves look good in the eyes of the media. There is no need for that. As long as you do your job well and deliver results according to targets, you’ll look better than the pretty numbers people read in the papers.


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  1. Dear Sir, I believe that indeed a multi-stakeholder approach is needed if this longstanding problem of poverty is to be fixed. The government should form a Commission made up of cabinet ministers, business leaders, academic professors, church leaders and social activists, etc. to face up to this issue and present a report within 3 months that will contain the recommendations for tackling poverty. Among other recommendations, the Commission should consider ways to bring back the OFWs to work and contribute to the development of their own country.

  2. I think the poverty problem in our country lies not in the population, but on the management of our resources. The world greatest economists had already proven that less population equals to a less production, less income, and less development. I am not an economist but I guess there is a congruency or parallelism between population and growth. Even those European countries with zero population are getting trouble with production, especially that their populations are aging already. Let me give our economic managers example to think. I guess two months ago there was an electric train that had been crafted by our own Engineers. The train was moving well, designed so well and the Engineers themselves believed that they could do what other developed countries do in the train technology. But why Mr. President Du30 had to deal with China to construct railways and train for us when we can do it? The money that Mr. President DU30 is about to get from China is even less than the money of Filipino migrant workers throughout the world are producing for the Philippines? Why not tell our economic managers to craft a longer economic plan for the money of the migrant workers to be pulled together and use it to develop railways and train technology, so that the money also of the migrant workers they sending home would also be given a good investment return? Our local Engineers constructed the electric train from our local metal products. Imagine how many thousands or millions of workers the philippine will be producing, and the money that the Philippines will be given back to Filipino migrant workers! It’s mountainous! Good and sincere,honest and patriotic economic managers are what we need.

  3. Until this nation fails to address population control, poverty will not be solve. There is dwindling resources like rice, additional jobs to match the increase in population, not enough roads for business to prosper are basic issues that affects us but the main culprit is increase in population.

    • Yes I understand that for the need of population control that goes hand in hand with food production and an aggressive job creation through the infusion of capital both from local and foreign sources. PD30’s version of population control If I may surmise, out of his program is very unique and distinct, not like of China’s one child or a kind of illegal means like abortion and irresponsible contraception or any secular acts that counter God’s will or any act of bedroom invasion, no not like that but focus towards holistic means through responsible parenthood that does not put God in contempt. No amount of good effort on planning, control and its implementation of such program of population control will ever work if it does not intelligently and creatively crafted within the correct purview of natural laws or moral laws, otherwise, such program will always fall as self-destructive in the long run and the nation will ultimately suffer eternal condemnation and cannot withstand the supernatural power of the devil to defend itself to its own destiny in hell. Do we want the Nation and its people to face the fatal of our souls in the future???.