Millennium Development Goal

Towards a Strategic Development Road Map (Update)

The following is a matrix of the Strategies contained in the government’s Philippine Development Plan 2011-16  plotted against the five key results areas under the Cabinet Cluster system of the Aquino Cabinet.

The five themes include: 1) Good Governance and Anti-Corruption, 2) Human Development and Poverty Reduction, 3) Economic Development, 4) Security, Justice and Peace, and 5) Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation. This was contained in Executive Order 43: Pursuing our Social Contract with the Filipino People Through the Reorganization of the Cabinet Clusters.

The strategies under each theme were taken from the Philippine Development Plan 2011-16. In some cases, the actual targets were contained in it or some other announcement such as the renewable energy target. Some targets we are actually proposing here based on the intent of the PDP and other statements by the government. Some targets remain ambiguous or require quantification, but at least a measurement indicator is identified here.

This should form the basis for a periodic review of the government’s progress in meeting its official development plan and agenda. In the future, we will be revisiting these targets to hold this government to account. Comments on the construction of the matrix are quite welcome. Feel free to point out things that are missing or need to be revised.

Scorecard of Social Contract and Philippine Development Plan 2011-16 Targets

UPDATE:

Good governance targets

I chose to go with the World Bank’s Good Governance indicators because the government has adopted its whole philosophy of economic development from the Washington Consensus. It is only but fitting that it should benchmark itself against the indicators set by this Washington-based institution.

In setting the targets for the nation, I had to benchmark our rating with our East Asian neighbors. For instance under control of corruption, the Philippines and Indonesia were at 27.1 and 28.1 respectively, China and Vietnam were at 36.2 and 36.7, Thailand was at 51, and Malaysia was at 58.1 back in 2009. Hong Kong and Singapore were in the 90s.

It is only but fitting that we try to break into the range of Thailand and Malaysia. So I said we need to be achieving above 50%. I used a similar approach with the other indicators in this area.

Human Development and Poverty Reduction

Most of the targets found here were lifted from the government’s plan. The only target which I had to set on my own was the HDI target. To do this I simply projected the current trend from 2005 to 2010.  The target of reaching a 0.65 value for HDI means we would catch up to where Thailand and Sri Lanka were back in 2010.

All the other targets dealing with poverty reduction, literacy, land reform and distribution, Pantawid Pamilya recipients, housing and reaching the MDG targets were all based on official published documents by the government.

Economic Development

Most of the targets came from official published documents by the government. The only targets where I took the liberty of setting were the fiscal spending targets, but even there I took the policy pronouncements contained in the PDP into account.

For example, the PDP stated that its Medium Term Expenditure goal was to “substantially increase productive expenditures and catch up with the accumulated deficits in these areas.” It also noted that in 2007, the average expenditure on education among our Asian neighbors was 3.9% of GDP. To “catch-up” and make up for our accumulated deficits, we would need to at least match that spending, which is reflected in the target.

Aside from education, the PDP also made mention of our infrastructure spending which is woefully inadequate when compared with that of China, Vietnam, and Thailand which spent upwards of 7, 8 and 14% of GDP over the last decade. The 5% target was based on the World Bank’s recommended level for a middle income country such as ours. In other words, it was a modest but reasonable target in light of our regional peers’ spending.

The targets for achieving higher rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness and World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business reports are self-explanatory. You can see by reading their most recent editions the countries in whose proximity we would be landing if we achieved the targets.

The consumer welfare and agricultural productivity targets are yet undefined and merit further discussion.

Security, Justice and Peace

The target for achieving political stability was arrived at similar to the other good governance targets already discussed above. The defense modernization target assumes that the government has a revised plan for this and will be working towards achieving 100% of it by the end of its term. Finally, the press freedom strategy and target, I had to personally add given the silence of the PDP on it. I based this on PNoy’s policy pronouncements at an AFP conference call. I further believe the Human Rights Commission should seek to publish official statistics in the area so that we can aim to bring that figure down.

Climate Change, Adaptation and Mitigation

The targets for reducing environmental damage and casualties are yet undefined but flow directly from the strategies outlined in the PDP. The rest of the targets contained here are from official published statements by the government, including the renewable energy target.

Why the Need for a Scorecard?

It has been nearly three months since the cabinet reorganization was announced, and yet it seems no further developments were made towards fleshing out the social contract in terms of major strategies and targets, which the EO that created it envisioned.

That is the reason why we have taken this bold step towards developing this strategic development road map. Of course, nothing would please us more than to see the government announce something similar. When it does, we will be sure to revise the document to reflect it.

The Propinoy Project began as an attempt to hold the government to account for its electoral promises. Now that the government has officially laid down its official policies and plan for its term, it is but fitting that we assess its future performance against its own targets with objective baselines and independent and reliable sources.

This matrix as detailed as it is cannot capture the complexities at the implementation or operational level. We leave that to the community service organizations who are partnered with various agencies to monitor. At least at the strategic level we can look at this scorecard to assess whether the government is doing the right things (and doing them right!) at the operational level to achieve its strategic goals.

Round and round we go

Prof Solita Monsod in her weekly column for The BusinessWorld quotes a paper authored by Ms Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies or PIDS a government think tank which estimates that based on its current trajectory, the Philippines will meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of achieving universal primary education by (brace yourself) 2079(!) sixty four years behind the 2015 deadline.

That is unless the government changes its course and raises education expenditures in the near term. Currently there is a mere 65% completion rate of students that enter primary school. Many factors contribute to the high attrition rate, most of which we are all too familiar with: large class sizes, poor teachers, a backlog of classrooms, materials and clean drinking water, improper access for disabled and indigenous children.

To bring the current attainment rates up to 90% by 2016 (the end of President Aquino’s term) would require a near-doubling of the current education spending in the next year according to the paper. Manasan provides forward budget estimates of P382 billion (3.8% of GDP) for 2012, P308 billion for 2013 (2.3%), P325 billion for 2014 (2.8%), P341 billion for 2015 (2.7%), and P355 billion for 2016 (2.6%). The spending “surge” in 2012 includes provisions to bridge the capital spending backlog accumulated over recent years. The likelihood of this happening is very low considering the fiscal consolidation being undertaken to contain public deficits and debt.

Given its inability to raise and sustain a tax collection rate above 15% of GDP (Manasan says it should be around 18%), the government has resorted to expenditure contraction as a means of keeping its deficits in check. To raise its tax take to the prescribed level while sticking to its “no new taxes” pledge, the Aquino administration would have to pull a few policy levers at its disposal. What are these? Well, they’re the usual suspects: rationalizing tax exemptions to investors, restructuring excise taxes on sin products, and reforming the road users tax.

These are all familiar prognostications. After all the animosity the government has recently faced over reducing subsidies for commuter trains, highways and utilities, the politics of increasing rates on alchohol, tobacco and automobiles would make the enactment of two out of the three proposed measures unlikely.

Improving Retention

In this year’s budget the Aquino administration has tried to improve retention in schools via the demand-side of the equation by placing more money in the conditional cash transfers (CCT) program. This is a recognition that apart from inadequate inputs from the public sector, it is the lack of family income that drags attainment levels down. The problem of course is that once demand for education on the part of families is stimulated, supply on the part of the government will have to surge to meet it.

So round and round we go, locked in the policy/spin cycle until the year 2079…unless of course we introduce some kind of structural “break” in the process. That could come in the form of a reproductive health act that would allow parents to make informed decisions about the number and spacing of their children. By all accounts, that would mean lowering the average size of each household if the true wishes of parents were fulfilled. If this were introduced this year, its effects would be felt in the kindergarten enrollment levels of 2016. While current enrollment growth rates are already declining, the reform would slow them down even more. This would allow the government some breathing room to catch-up with the demand for schooling.

Many players on both sides of the debate do not seem to appreciate just how close their positions are.

Of course the reason why past incarnations of the RH Bill have failed to make it through Congress is the opposition faced from the powerful Catholic bishops. From watching the panel discussion on Al Jazeera TV (see video clip embedded below), the main stumbling block in this Congress has been what an abortifacient consists of. Bishop Ted Bacani seems to accede to other forms of man-made contraceptives that prevent conception. Perhaps this is in part due to the Pope’s own statement regarding the acceptability of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Many players on both sides of the debate do not seem to appreciate just how close their positions are. While the current RH Bill does not explicitly enumerate the different forms of legal and safe methods of birth control that would be offered; by the same token, it does not seek to legalize abortion either. The position of the clergy seems to be that under the bill, substances, both herbal and synthetic, that induce termination of pregnancy (abortifacients) could be construed as legal forms of contraception. An example of this the morning after pill, that in some countries has been offered to victims of rape, might form part of the mix unless explicitly prohibited.

As presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda pointed out, that was an issue up for debate. The disengagement of the bishops from the process is the reason for the current impasse. It is quite unfortunate that Ms Beth Angsioco an advocate of the RH Bill was not asked to clarify her position on the matter. It would have been enlightening to hear it rather than the toing and froing over rights that occurred. It should be noted that even in countries where abortion is legal, the use of such morning after pills is tightly controlled. For the sake of guaranteeing its passage through Congress, it would be best for advocates of the bill to compromise and  leave the debate over whether or not to legalize abortifacients for another day.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXYo5kmc6Mo&fs=1&showinfo=1&rel=1]

 

Untangling the Complex Policy Web

Returning to the issue of how to finance education. It is quite clear that in the near term, the bridging of the education gap will be difficult particularly because the government is hoping for a credit upgrade from the various rating agencies. This would mean reducing the fiscal deficit to within 1-2% of GDP. One cannot discount the benefits a one or two notch upgrade would bring about. You cannot get there without fiscal consolidation or controlling cost pressures in the budget, improved collection by the government revenue agencies recently reported notwithstanding.

The basic source of this gap is the sheer size of our population. Reducing its growth rate even fractionally would have huge benefits down the track in terms of education, health and employment outcomes. The government may not be able to attain the MDG target by its deadline, but it can lay the groundwork towards balancing the conflicting policy goals it has to contend with at the moment.

Let’s FEED Back!

It’s been four months ago since nagbigay ako ng talk about advocacy blogging sa Iloilo City para sa Visayas Blogging Summit. Bukod sa Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) na palagian kong inoopen sa mga forums at kahit sa mga simpleng pagtitipon ng mga bloggers at mga kaibigan, ay mas pinagtuunan ko ng pansin ang isyu ng gutom hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa iba pang parte ng mundo. Mula sa report na nilabas ng United Nations World Food Programme at ng Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations na sa buong mundo mayroon kulang kulang 1 billion na katao na ang nakakaranas ng tinatawag nilang chronic hunger. Karamihan sa kanila ay ang mga batang pumapasok sa paaralan. At sa pamamagitan ng konsepto ng online campaign sa mga social media ay inilunsad ng FAO at WFP ang  kampanya ng 1 Billion for 1 Billion Hungry. Sa project na ito ay binigyan ng kakayahan ang mga online users na ikampanya ang issue ng gutom sa pamamagitan ng social media at nakalikom sila ng suporta at pledge mula sa iba’t ibang tao, samahat at organization sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo.

At ngayong March 8, 2011, kasabay ng celebration ng International Women’s Month, ay inilunsad ng WFP ang WeFeedBack. Ito ay isang online project na kung saan inaanyayahan lahat ng online advocates at bloggers na makiisa at ilagay sa mga websites nila ang widget para i-engage ang mga readers nila na tignan kung anong katumbas ng bawat binibili nilang pagkain sa kung ilan ang batang maaari nilang matulungan. Sacrifice – ito ang konsepto ng WeFeedBack campaign ng WFP, kung paano mo i-dodonate ang dapat sanang isang burger para sa miryenda mo para makatulong ng 3-4 children na humaharap at nagtitiis sa kalam ng sikmura.

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Maharil marami rin nagtatanong bakit sa Women’s Month ito pinasok ng WFP, bilang isang taga suporta ng WFP masasabi kong nararapat din alalahanin sa bukod sa karapatan ng bawat kababaihan ay mayroong mga ina, kapatid at kaibigang mga babaeng humaharap sa hamon ng kalam ng sikmura. Ang mga kababaihan lalo na ang mga ina ay siyang tinawag na frontliners of hunger, sila ang nagtitiis ng gutom para lang mapakain ang kanilang mga anak lalo na silang mga nasa Africa, sila rin ang mga babaeng naglalakad ng malayo para kumuha ng firewood at tubig para sa pamilya nila na kadalasan biktima rin ng karahasan sa daan tulad ng nagaganap sa ilang region ng Sudan. Ang bawat isa lalaki man o babae ay biktima ng suliranin na hinaharap ng lahat at iyon ay gutom, lalo na sa mga bansang nasa third world country at naiipit sa giyera.

Simple lang ang hamon ng WeFeedBack, sa bawat 1 Dollar na ibibigay mo ay 2-3 batang mapapakain mo, sa bawat 5 dollars na binibigay mo maaari mong matulungan ang isang ina para matugunan ang pangangailangan niya sa livelihood program at sa 10-25$ na ibibigay mo isang klase na ang mabibigyan mo ng mainit, masarap at nutritious na pananghalian na kailangan nila habang nag-aaral. In reality, sa sampung estudyante na pumapasok sa paaralan ay kadalasang 2-3 lamang ang nakakakain ng maayos, habang ang natitira ay tinitiis ang gutom, sa kabila ng kumakalam na sikmura magagawa kaya nilang makapag aral ng mabuti. Ito ang ideya kung bakit sa MDG nangunguna ang kampanya ng “Eradication of Poverty and Hunger” (MDG #1). Malaki ang epekto ng gutom sa buhay ng tao, at ito ay nararanasan ng lahat at sa iba ay malubha.

May magagawa ka, sa bawat sakripisyo na gagawin mo, isang burger, isang fries, isang venti frappe, at isang froyo na i-gi-give up mo sa araw na ito at ido-donate mo sa WeFeedBack ay may mga bata at ina kang matutulungan. Kung nais natin ng pagbabago at kung nais natin labanan ang gutom, huwag lang tayo magsalita at umasam nito, maging parte ka ng laban at pagbabago ito dahil sa huli may parte ka at may magagawa ka.

How Sri Lanka Overtook the Philippines

It is a continuing expression of the financial market’s faith in the story of poor countries catching up with richer ones propelled by economically liberal policies. Read more

Religion gets in the way of safe sex

Manila, Philippines — With the unprecedented rise in the number of HIV infections this year, health officials are hoping that the Pope’s recent statement about condom use will help promote it as an effective way of preventing the spread of the virus.

In this year alone, the Department of Health HIV/AIDS Registry recorded 1,417 new infections for the period January to November. It is the highest number of HIV infections recorded in a single year since the epidemic was first discovered in the Philippines in 1984.

A 2008 assessment of the AIDS Medium Term Plan (AMTP) of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) stated that “MSMs present the biggest threat of an accelerated growth in the spread of HIV in the country.”

Condom use a struggle

The Philippines has the lowest condom use in Asia and according to the National Demographic Health Study of 2008, condom use stands at a dismal 2.8%. Other methods like withdrawal which involves unprotected sex is much higher at 9.8%.

Health experts have been struggling to promote condom usage among the youth as a means of protection against STI and HIV and have met a strong adversary in the Catholic Church and other pro-life groups.

The Catholic Church adamantly opposes any form of modern contraception saying that they are abortifacients that promote promiscuity.  With over 90% of the population being Catholic, the Church’s teachings have a strong bearing over the public’s perception and the social stigma that surrounds condoms.

Raynald [not his real name], 20, said that he is embarrassed to purchase condoms because of the looks that he gets from cashiers. “May be it’s because I appear too young to them, but the way they look at me — you just know they are judging.”

This is part of the reason why health experts are hoping the Pope’s statement on condom use will help sway public perception.

“It is definitely a welcome statement” said Ferchito Avelino, Director of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC).  “I am positive that it will have an impact, especially in STI prevention, though maybe not to prevent pregnancy.”, Avelino said.

Grasping at straws

But for other members of the Catholic hierarchy, nothing has changed.

Melvin Chan, executive secretary of the Family and Life Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the official organization of the Catholic hierarchy clarified, “A group of Filipino priests just got back from the Vatican and clarified [the statement] with the Holy Father himself. The Pope clarified that in light of their profession, male prostitutes can condom use as a sign of moral responsibility and possibly the start of his conversion.”

“So, you see, nothing has changed. We were in fact commended for upholding the fight to protect the sanctity of life from its start.”, concluded Castro.

Elizabeth Angsioco, chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) refuted this, “There is a CBCP Manual that specifically encourages the use of condoms between sero-discordant couples to prevent HIV transmission to the uninfected partner.”

Castro claimed that this clause was incorrect and was struck out in the latter versions of the manual.

Not a moral battle

Jonas Bagas, chairperson of The Library Foundation (TLF Share), an NGO that promotes sexual health in the context of human rights said, “Rather than focus on what the Pope says, we need concrete interventions as the HIV problem is an urgent one.”

The Philippines has long been seen as a low prevalence country, but the 2010 Global AIDS report showed that globally, infection rates have gone down by 19%, whereas in the Philippines, it on an unprecedented upswing.

“The global trend is that countries are driving down the rate of infection or at least controlling it. In the Philippines, it is the opposite.”, said Bagas.

“We need to take the discussion to a public health framework; not where it is dictated upon by some sort of dogma. “, Bagas said.

Bagas and other RH groups are pushing for the passage of a Reproductive Health Bill as a way to address the HIV and AIDS problem.

If passed, the RH Bill will legislate the procurement of condoms and other contraceptives and make them a part of the list of essential medicines in hospitals. Age appropriate sex education, which is absent is most schools curricula, would also be mandated starting grade 5.

The RH Bill is currently undergoing plenary debates and RH advocates are hopeful that it will be passed by the first quarter of next year.

The Philippines is the only country in the South East Asia region where there is no national law on reproductive health.

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Image: Some rights reserved by Autistic Psycho

Pro-life president Eric Manalang on the Pope and condoms

When I was assigned the article, “Religion gets in the way of safe sex”, for IRIN News (the humanitarian news and analysis agency of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), my editor reminded me to get the point of view of religious and pro-life groups to ensure a balanced report.

In the context of the unprecedented rise in HIV infections in the country, I was to get  the reaction of public health officials,  HIV/RH activists and religious groups on the pope’s statement on condoms and if its impact on the reproductive health debate, if any.

I called Pro-Life President Eric Manalang for a comment and he asked me to email my questions first before giving a reply. I obliged and received a reply from Mr. Manalang the next day.

The story, “Religion gets in the way of safe sex” did not make it to IRIN News, but apart from here on ProPinoy.net, it was published on SexAndSensibilities.com. I informed Mr. Manalang, that  his reply to my e-mail would be printed in full — as per his request —  on both websites.

Below is the email of Mr. Manalang, which has not been edited (save for formatting and punctuation) or cut.

Dear Ana,

Thanks for calling.This may or may not be the interview you may want,you will notice as you read on.

Nothing personal but it  seems awkward for you  and almost impossible for me to get a fair result from this interview (your boss has an agenda am sure), seeing  that IRIN, a part of UN, already has made certain conclusions with regard to RH, population agenda and poverty and the HIV problem , as well as infers at the very least a certain media bias already as to the “focus only on  the Condom portion ” of the statement by the HOLY FATHER (with much of secular MEDIA misleading many Catholics and non-Catholics).

HIV is a problem of promiscuity, abstinence and faithful family life is the key values needed. Look at Thailand vs. Philippines on HIV vs. condom promotion.Where is the HIV epidemic? In Thailand!

Kindly yourself, Catholic or not,  consider that The POPE did not change any existing teaching nor commandment,it is the secular media that translates it to meet its liberal/left leaning agenda, PDI included, when it comes to fighting and destroying  objective morality and decency.

No population, no economy because no producers and no  consumers. Simple truth. Poor people are the source of growth in an economy, not the wealthy.

WE, THE  REAL CATHOLICS,  LOVE THE POPE!

There are TEN COMMANDMENTS not less nor more. Bad morality brings bad policies,what else can we expect ?

The UN, a supposedly unifying international body is now a “TUTA” ( pardon my taglish) of the USA and EU and many fabulously funded Foundations (Packard,Ford,etc) whose agenda is to depopulate countries like the Philippines. WHAT!!?? Is the UN unifying for or against HUMANITY? RH using health as a convenient smokescreen lie is  to mislead the poor that children are burdensome.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

A war against our women’s wombs has been launched. Scary indeed. But we fight!

Stop corruption not the population! Build schools, more teachers, more real health facilities for survival, not RH, abortion fronts. Empower the poor with education,education education.

If you’re in need of an interview, just ask the PLCPD. Maybe they will be happy to oblige with lies and falsities from selected data and RH  biased experts for the MDG.

Funny how many of  the progressive blocs of Akbayan, Bayan Muna, feminists, environmentalists, etc. have sided with the enemy, a.k.a imperialist USA, in pushing the over population myth agenda and so interview them as well. Hypocrisy betrays consistency.

I hope you kindly understand the  point clearly.

Knowing that this short piece may not land on the IRIN news, I kindly require that if printed it be done in whole,or not at all. I reserve my right to it.

Of course STRICTLY,for LOVE and LIFE and FAMILY.

Merry Christmas to you  and your love ones Ana..MABUHAY!

God bless,

Eric

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Trishhhh

Noy lauded for remaining firm on RH Bill support

Noy lauded for remaining firm on RH Bill support
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Mr. Aquino “needs to be complemented and supported for standing firm against the Catholic hierarchy in his advocacy for responsible parenthood and contraceptive use based on freedom of informed choice.”

Curiously though, a prominent member of the House minority bloc, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is against the RH Bill and has co-authored a pro-life measure to protect the rights of the unborn.

“The steadfast position of the President on voluntary family planning is an unequivocal endorsement for the enactment of a comprehensive and nationwide statute on reproductive health and population development,” Lagman said.

Philippines bags #2 spot as world’s best in microfinance

RP world’s second best in microfinance
By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has been ranked second best worldwide in the microfinance business, and the leader in the Asia Pacific region.

Based on a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the business information arm of The Economist Group that publishes The Economist, the Philippines outperformed Bolivia slipping to third overall.

[Propinoy Ed.: What is microfinance?]

From Wikipedia: “More broadly, it is a movement whose object is “a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers.”[1] Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty.”

Peru remained in top spot, while Ghana took fourth overall followed by Pakistan. The next five nations that served as models for microfinance business were Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Colombia and Kenya.

The study, entitled [sic. titled] the Overall Microfinance Business Environment, reviewed 54 countries and evaluated each country’s microfinance business environment in terms of its regulatory framework, investment climate and level of institutional development. Interviews with microfinance industry leaders and stakeholders along with secondary information were analyzed to come up with the rankings. Read more

Achieving MDG goals to require over P400 billion for 2012-2015

Achieving MDG goals to require over P400 billion for 2012-2015
Business World Online

THE GOVERNMENT needs to spend around half a trillion pesos from 2012 to 2015 if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be met before the end of President Benigno C. Aquino III’s term, the Budget department yesterday said.

Budget Assistant Secretary Luz M. Cantor, speaking at a national MDG congress, said agencies involved in the implementation of the UN-sponsored objectives needed P486.55 billion to hit a 2015 deadline.

The estimate, which does not include allocations under next year’s national budget, was based on submissions by the Health, Social Welfare, Environment, Agrarian Reform, Finance and Public Works departments; People’s Credit and Finance Corp. (PCFC); Philippine Ports Authority (PPA); National Food Authority (NFA); and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

Not yet included is the amount needed by the Education department.

The Social Welfare department accounts for the bulk: P343.02 billion for implementing projects related to MDG 1 or the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Other agencies involved in meeting this goal include the Agrarian Reform department which has sought P32.7 billion; PCFC, P7.88 billion; Finance department, P500 million; PPA, P167 million; and the NFA, P65 million.

Under next year’s budget, the Social Welfare department’s budget for its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program was increased to P29.2 billion from this year’s P10 billion, Ms. Cantor said. Some P21.2 billion will go to conditional cash transfers (CCTs), P2.88 billion for the Supplemental Feeding Program, P881 million for the Food for Work Program for Internally Displaced Persons and P4.2 billion for rice subsidies.

The CCTs also address MDG 2 or the achievement of universal primary education and MDG 5 or the improvement of maternal health.

The PCW, in charge of MDG 3 or the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment, proposed a P222-million budget for 2012-2015.

“Among initiatives to mainstream gender sensitivity, the national government continues to carry out measures to improve the implementation of the Gender and Development Policy which directs all government department, bureaus, offices and agencies to set aside at least 5% of their annual appropriations for projects designed to address gender and development issues,” a Budget department document states.

The Health department, in charge of MDGs 4, 5 and 6 or the reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health and the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, respectively, said it required P79.84 billion.

The Environment department, concerned with MDG 7 or the assurance of environmental sustainability, asked for P12.68 billion while Public Works department which is also working on the goal wants P9.49 billion.

“With only five years remaining, we need to do more. Statistics show that the ’business as usual’ mindset will not contribute anything substantial…,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga said.

Jacqueline Badcock, UN Resident Coordinator, said: “The challenge ahead is thus to sustain progress and accelerate the pace of progress on the goals that are least likely to be achieved.” — J. J. A. Cerda

How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place

Mechai Viravaidya was recognized by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today with a $1 million award for confronting “taboo subjects like sex and HIV/AIDS directly in order to save lives." Photo: AFP/Getty

I think the Philippines should take a closer look at neighboring Thailand. They used to have a 3.3% growth rate, much worse than our 2% growth annually. Mechai Viravaidya, or Mr. Condom of Thailand, shares in this TEDxChange video how Thailand was able to raise the Thai standard of living by using population control as the first step. Keep in mind that the majority of Thais are Buddhists but still, the same can be done here if we will finally separate Church from State.

Thanks to Krishna for sharing with me this video.