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Is The Philippines Not Poor?

Poverty incidence among Population.

The Philippine economy has grown faster than 7 percent for three straight quarters. It is projected to grow between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent next year and 7-8 percent in 2015. Forecasts for 2016 are being reviewed, but Balisacan said 7-8 percent growth is a “reasonable assumption.”

Poverty incidence is the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population.

The Philippine government has clearly demonstrated an “anti-poverty paradigm” over the past three decades. We know that from the time that humankind first invented the wheel, poverty and inequality have marked nearly all human societies and civilizations. But while the general reality seems indisputable, this has never meant that poverty and inequality has been understood in an unchanging fashion across different communities and histories. In fact, a cursory examination at the Philippine government’s own conceptions of poverty and poverty reduction since 1986 is deeply instructive.

Unfortunately, the causes and dimensions of poverty are not discussed or presented by Falcone. Worse his roadmap to fight poverty is limited to “securitization”. What is his position on asset reform (land reform)? Investing in social services like education, health and nutrition? Population management? Increasing infrastructure? Agricultural modernization?

Poverty and inequality in the Philippines remains a daunting challenge for political leaders and the administrative system. In the past four decades, the proportion of households living below the official poverty line has declined slowly and unevenly and poverty reduction has been much slower than in neighboring countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Economic growth has gone through boom and bust cycles, and recent episodes of moderate economic expansion have had limited impact on the poor. Great inequality across income brackets, regions, and sectors, as well as unmanaged population growth, are considered some of the key factors constraining poverty reduction efforts.

Do these causes fall within the definition of Falcone of “man made”? One can argue that all these reasons will involve people and actions made by men. But we don’t know if Falcone agrees with these reasons because he does not discuss the causes of poverty.

Finally, while Falcone’s proposal to teach Filipino’s to be entrepreneurs is laudable, his proposal to reduce the number of years in school does not only contradict the K-12 program but also runs counter to the reality that we need to educate more Filipinos as a poverty reduction strategy.

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