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THE COMPARATIVE SONA: U.N.–PHILIPPINES (First of Two Parts)


 

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“Economic growth alone does not automatically translate into human development….” – 2013 UNHD Report

“The Philippines dropped by three notches from its previous ranking of 114th in 2012 to 117th in 2013 out of 187 countries….” – 2014 UNHD Report

Covering 187 countries worldwide, the U.N. Human Development (UNHD) Report measures the status, improvement or decline of human development in each member-nation in terms of life expectancy, general health measures, education levels, incomes, livelihood opportunities and other parameters which are combined to form the Human Development Index (HDI).

According to the 2014 UNHD Report which analyzes data from field surveys of the year before (2013), the Philippines dropped by 3 notches from its previous ranking of 114th in 2013 to 117th in 2014, wrote the Manila Times(25 July 2014).

THE HDI IS A WELL-KNOWN SERIES OF MEASUREMENTS OF THE “QUALITY OF LIFE” FOR EARTH’S PEOPLE, AND HAS TO DO WITH GOVERNANCE, SECURITY, HEALTH, NUTRITION, LONGEVITY, HOUSING, BASIC EDUCATION, LITERACY, ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, POTABLE WATER, JOBS/LIVELIHOOD, PER CAPITA INCOME, ELECTRIC POWER SUPPLY, TRANSPORTATION/COMMUNICATIONS ACCESS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, AND OTHER SOCIO-ECONOMIC-POLITICAL PARAMETERS – IN SUM, THE “QUALITY OF LIFE” WHERE PEOPLE EMPOWERMENT IS THE CRITICAL UNIVERSAL NORM, IN ACCORDANCE WITH MODERN, 21ST CENTURY STANDARDS.

When dozens of countries and billions of people move up the development ladder, as they are doing today, this has a direct, positive impact on people’s quality of life because of the alleviation of poverty and the creation of new wealth among common people.

Higher Quality Of Life:  The “Highlighted 18”

In its 2013 UNHD Report released one year ago by the U.N. Development Programme, eighteen developing countries were assessed to have done particularly well.  Some of the larger, more competitive emerging nations have made rapid advances in upgrading the quality of people’s lives – by fighting poverty, generating jobs, delivering social justice, and practicing equitable, democratic governance at the local and national levels – in order to fulfill individual basic needs.

Notable among the “Highlighted 18” are Brazil, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Chile and Turkey.  Smaller economies included in these “emergents” are newly-attractive performers Tunisia, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Mauritius.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE PHILIPPINES IS NOT PART OF THESE “18 EXEMPLARS” – APPARENTLY BECAUSE OF OUR LACKLUSTER PERFORMANCE (SINCE 2000 UP TO NOW), AND PERHAPS ALSO BECAUSE OF THE ERRATIC TRENDS OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR OUR EVER-EXPANDING POPULATION.

Weighing heavily against higher performance grades for the Philippines are the indications of mass poverty, corruption, and income inequality – which arise from our dynastic, elitist, and monopolistic political culture.

Where The Philippines Stands

The 2014 UNHD Report ranks the Philippines #117 out of 187 nations – which puts us in the “Medium Human Development” category between the likes of small island-nation Dominican Republic in the Caribbean (#102) and land-locked Nepal in South Asia (#145).

Below that in the “Low Human Development” category are the tail-enders Pakistan (#146) down to Niger (#187), as the lowliest of the lowly.  Rated higher than the Philippines are such younger, smaller countries like Palau (#60), Mauritius (#63), Sri Lanka (#73), Fiji (#88), Tonga (#100), and Samoa (#106).

And, likely to overtake the Philippines soon – unless we significantly improve our collective performance – are South Africa (#118), Vietnam (#121), Guatemala (#125), Timor-Leste (#128), and Vanuatu (#131) – because their rising competitiveness, allure/access to global markets truly count; and where predictability, continuity, and transparency characterize government policies and operations.

ARE WE FILIPINOS SATISFIED WITH OUR BACKWARD, AND DECLINING POSITION AT #117 OUT OF 187 COUNTRIES IN THE 2014 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT SURVEYS IN THE FAMILY OF NATIONS?  TO BE OVERTAKEN BY LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES – EVEN BY TINY ISLAND-NATIONS???

Of course not -- says this concerned senior citizen who in his time has seen the rise and fall, and then the rise again in the 1990s of the Philippines!  Of course not!!   Because we can go much higher, having been up there in higher positions before.  KAYA NATIN ITO!!!

Drivers Of Development

Many developing countries have made substantial progress over the past two decades.  Several high achievers have not only boosted national income, but also show better than average performance on social indicators, principally health, education, and jobs/livelihood.  Among these countries, four notable common drivers of development have been highlighted by the United Nations: 

Driver 1:  A Proactive Developmental State.  A strong, proactive and responsible State develops policies for both public and private sectors based on long-term vision/leadership, shared norms/values, and rules/institutions that build trust and cohesion. 

Achieving enduring transformation requires consistent and balanced development. Leaders need to be people-centered, promoting opportunities while protecting people against downside risks like corruption and natural calamities.

Driver 2:  Tapping Of Global Markets.  An important role in advancing progress is played by global markets.  Even more important are the terms of engagement with these markets. 

Without investment in people, returns from global markets are likely to be limited.  Success is more likely to be the result not of sudden openings but of gradual and sequenced integration with the world economy. 

Driver 3:  Determined Social Policy Innovation.   Few countries have sustained rapid growth without impressive levels of public investment – not just in material infrastructure, but especially in health and education.  Growth has been more effective at reducing poverty in countries with low income inequality than in countries with high income inequality (like the Philippines). 

Promoting equality, particularly among different geographic, religious, ethnic, and economic sectors reduces social conflict.

Driver 4:  Policy of Inclusiveness.  National policy has to promote inclusion – ensuring nondiscrimination and equal treatment is critical for political and social stability.  It must hold the leadership accountable at all levels.

Education, healthcare, legal protection/empowerment and social organization all enable poor people to benefit from growth.  Sectoral balance –paying priority attention to the rural sector – and the nature/pace of employment expansion are critical. 

Incidence Of Poverty

Across Asia and the Pacific, according to the UNDP, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than $1.25 but less than $2.50 a day, asserting that those who face multiple deprivations are particularly at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur.

The Manila Bulletin(29 July 2014) reports:  “The number of poor Filipino families who claimed they are poor has increased to 12.1 million from 11.5 million households three months earlier, results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.  The nationwide survey conducted last June 2014 found that 55%, equivalent to 12.1 million Filipino families, felt they are poor.  Before that, the figure last March 2014 was 53% or 11.5 million families who said they are poor.

“SWS attributed the increase in self-rated poverty in Visayas and Mindanao to natural calamities.”

The 2014 UNHD Report also said that the top five countries ranked in terms of the HDI are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and the United States; while the bottom five in the rankings were Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone.  (The Manila Times, 25 July 2014).

Fighting Corruption

We should also reduce, if not eliminate, the influence that "money politics" exerts on our fragile democracy – particularly now that pork barrels, financial scams, tax evasion, smuggling, and narco-profits are assuming alarming dimensions.

Apart from mass poverty, corruption is the other major drag on the Philippine economy which, ultimately, affects the higher quality of life to which we all aspire.  Today, corruption in government (in its different Malacañang variations – PDAF, DAP, Malampaya, etc. ad nauseam) has become endemic and pervasive, and has wasted too much in terms of time, energy and goodwill that otherwise should have been devoted by the Aquino III Administration to implementing needed reforms to reinforce our people’s social cohesion, and insure our higher position of respect in the community of nations. 

How are we to check corruption?  The obvious starting point is an honest-to-goodness “back-to-basics” program within government that would instill a greater sense of patriotism, ethical behavior and accountability in public service.  Thus, every public servant must become a model of humility, moderation, integrity and responsibility.

Life-style checks on officials at all levels must be made regularly, without fear or favor.  On the other hand, authorities must detect, expose, and punish bribe-givers who are perennially greedy, selfish and unmindful about others. 

National reforms we must complement with similar efforts at the local level.  The LGU, after all, is the face of State authority and leadership that ordinary people see most often.

SUMMING UP:  SANA,THE REAL SONA

IN “THE NATION’S PRAYER” AT THE START OF THE JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS FOR THE 2014 SONA LAST 28 JULY, OUR NATIONAL LEADERS INTONED:  “IN THE PAST DAYS, WE WERE TESTED BY TIME.  BUT BECAUSE OF OUR ABIDING TRUST IN YOU, LORD, AND THE LESSONS OF UNITY AND COMPASSION FOR EACH OTHER THAT YOU SO LOVINGLY TAUGHT US, WE WERE ABLE TO OVERCOME ALL THE TESTS AND TRIALS THAT CAME OUR WAY.”

REALLY?   TRULY??   ARE WE FILIPINOS ACTUALLY UNITED AS A NATIONAL SOCIETY UNDER THE INCUMBENT SET OF LEADERS???

IS THERE SINCERE COMPASSION TODAY AMONG THE EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATIVE AND THE JUDICIARY???

DO WE HAVE UNITY IN MINDANAO???   OR COMPASSION FOR EACH OTHER AS CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND LUMADS???

HAVE WE OVERCOME ALL THE TESTS AND TRIALS THAT HAVE COME OUR WAY IN THE 21ST CENTURY???

THE SIMPLE ANSWER TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS IS “NO,” DEFINITELY “NO” – BECAUSE FILIPINOS STILL QUARREL TOO MUCH, ARE STILL OVERPROTECTIVE OF THEIR TURFS, STILL FAIL TO SACRIFICE FOR THE COMMON GOOD, AND ARE STILL KILLING EACH OTHER!!!

SANA,WE WILL RANK HIGHER IN THE UNITED NATIONS SOON!!!

ABANGAN– PART II.

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org.  Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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