Thursday, 09 March 2000

Angat Pinoy 2004:

It’s everybody’s business
By Gina Mission

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The militant League of Filipino Students asks, if the President is
serious about improving functional literacy, how come he allows
budget cuts for the education department, and allows private
schools to wantonly increase their tuition fees every year?

A year after the launching of Angat Pinoy 2004, civil society organizations have started asking the question: Will the government deliver on its promises?

......Angat Pinoy (literally, rise, Filipino) 2004 is the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 1999-2004. Serving as the framework for the Estrada administration’s development agenda, it articulates the President’s objectives for the nation, said to be based on the collective aspirations of "all sectors of society" as expressed in "public discussions and consultations in all regions nationwide." It appears to summarize what the President promised to do when he was courting the vote of the masa in 1998.

......"We want the poor to share in the benefits of growth and the vulnerable to be protected through the difficulties of the growth process. But more importantly, we want to empower the poor so they can fully participate in our nation’s life," President Estrada said in his introduction to Angat Pinoy 2004.

......Given such importance, Angat Pinoy 2004 is something every Filipino should watch out for, NGO representatives say, something that everybody should make his or her own business.

......Although NGO workers say they have not seen concrete signs of the program’s success so far, they are still willing to give it a chance—as long as it improves the lot of the Filipino.

Looking good on paper

......On paper, Angat Pinoy sounds very good indeed.

......"Production, income and employment, whether aggregate, per capita or dispersed—which are the traditional economic measures of a country’s success—acquire meaning only to the extent that they enhance the lives of Filipinos in their totality, and not just in the satisfaction of consumption needs," the President said in reference to Angat Pinoy 2004 in a speech at the multi-sectoral conference on Partnership for Governance and Development on February 26 in Makati City.

......A year after it was launched, however, very few people actually know about the medium-term plan. And not many can tell how it is being implemented, if at all.

......The medium-term plan envisions the reduction of the proportion of poor Filipino families to between 25 and 28 per cent of the total population, particularly in the rural areas. It also aims to improve income distribution.

......Attaining these objectives means doing six things: speeding up rural development, delivering basic social services, strengthening competitiveness, sustaining the development of infrastructure, ensuring macroeconomic stability and initiating reforms in governance.


......"Socialized housing will be provided to around 940,000 households and economic housing to about 210,000 households for 1999-2004," the President pledged. For the same period, around 26.65 per cent of all "ultra poor" families will be provided with social welfare services.

......Based on the medium-term plan, he also expects the following to fall into place:

  • The Gross National Product GNP to grow from 0.1 per cent in 1998 to 6-7 per cent in 2004.
  • Unemployment to decline from 10.1 per cent in 1998 to 6.7-8 per cent.
  • Inflation to slow down from 9.8 per cent in 1998 to 4-5 per cent.
  • The national government’s fiscal balance to improve from a deficit of 1.8 per cent of GNP in 1998 to a surplus of 0.7 per cent of GNP.
  • Finally, export growth to remain strong at 14.5-15.1 per cent.

......Alongside these objectives, the plan calls for nurturing a "responsive citizenry" and creating an environment conducive to a better life for all.

`Responsive citizenry'

......A primer prepared by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said: "The use of various media, including electronic and indigenous media, will be promoted and expanded in inculcating values and propagating a responsive citizenry, leadership, moral recovery, gender sensitivity, increased productivity, and a culture of peace and unity."

......In health, projections include an increase in life expectancy from 67.4 years in 1995 to 68.9 in 2004, and a reduction in the number of infant deaths from 48.93 per 1,000 live births in 1995 to 441.2 in 2004.

......In education, the functional literacy rate—referring to the ability to read, write and do simple math--is targeted to increase from 83.8 per cent in 1994 to 87.74 per cent in 2004.

Investing in the future

......In the same multi-sectoral conference, Dinky Soliman, executive director of CO-Multiversity, commented: "The Philippines has a young population and there is need to invest in the future. Functional literacy and critical and creative consciousness are imperative to ensure that the future generations can respond to the challenge of globalization."

......In agriculture, Angat Pinoy 2004 promises equitable access to land by completing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). "Farmers, fisher folk, indigenous peoples and rural institutions will be empowered to participate in sector development through capability building and extension programs," says a brochure on the medium-term plan.

......An additional 345,748 hectares of land will be targeted for irrigation during the period. This will bring to about 54 per cent the country’s total irrigated land, up from 43 per cent in 1998.

......Six million hectares of forest and 10 endangered species of plants and animals will be protected, five major rivers will be rehabilitated and an "appropriate water- pricing policy carried out." The designation of protected areas will be completed, and the remaining 3.3 million hectares of land under the agrarian reform program will be distributed.

......Angat Pinoy 2004 will encourage local governments to adopt policies and programs that will "harness" the potentials of their localities in trade, tourism and investments. These will enable the industry and service sectors to grow at an average rate of 5.0-5.9 per cent and 4.7-5.7 per cent, respectively, in the medium term.

......The plan projects industry to grow fastest in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleras, and Central Visayas, and services to grow fastest in the
Cordilleras, Cagayan Valley and Northern Mindanao.

Cautious skepticism

......But civil society remains cautiously skeptical.

......Rafael Mariano, secretary general of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, is not impressed by government’s performance so far in relation to the medium-term plan. "The President is saying one thing, and doing another," he said.

......Mariano referred to the March 4 killing of Terry Sevilla and Roger Alla, both farmers in their early 30s in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas, by unidentified men believed to be private security guards of Fil-Estate Realty. Mariano said that if the President was serious, he should do "something" to stop the harassment the of farmers, who are being eased out of the area.

......Fil-Estate is building the Harbour Town golf course and marinas in 8,650 hectares of farmlands in Hacienda Looc, a controversial estate that was subject to land distribution among farmers until the authorities allowed their conversion to non-agricultural use.

......Flori Rapista, a Bagobo from Davao del Sur who works with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), wants to know how the President could be serious in his promise to help people like her when he has not even released the funds of the NCIP, the agency tasked to implement the Indigenous People’s Rights Act?

......The militant League of Filipino Students asks, if the President is serious about improving functional literacy, how come he allows budget cuts for the education department, and allows private schools to wantonly increase their tuition fees every year?

......With these questions, sectoral groups enjoin every Filipino to keep a close watch on the implementation of the Angat Pinoy program. As Mariano and Rapista said: "Let’s make the program our business."