IN HIS 1999 State of the Nation Address, President Estrada declared: "The war on poverty is the overriding business of the government and is embedded in the government's economic and social programs."
......Almost a year later, civil society is interested to see how this administration will translate those words into action given the realities of land conversion, labor strikes, budget cuts, allegations of graft and corruption, among others, that have marked the Estrada presidency.
......NGO workers, joined by government representatives, recently gathered at the Bayview Hotel in Manila for a multi-sectoral consultation workshop where they were presented the administration's anti-poverty programs and projects. It was the first time that the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), after almost two years since its creation, made such a report. The workshop, held May 24 to 25, was organized with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank.
......In her presentation, Donna Gasgonia, vice chair for the government sector of the NAPC, enjoined all
stakeholders- government agencies, civil society groups, as well as the 100 poorest family-beneficiaries of the program in each of the country's provinces-to help the agency monitor the implementation of the government's anti-poverty programs. She also urged the audience to learn to demand that these anti-poverty services be delivered to the intended beneficiaries.
......Her call reflected the UNDP's Poverty Report 2000, which stressed the importance of cooperation between the different sectors in order for the campaign against poverty to succeed. If poverty reduction programs are to succeed, the report said, local government units must be strengthened and held accountable both to the central government, for funds allocated to them, and to their constituents, for how they use these funds.
......Some P257.9 billion, part of which came from foreign donors, has been set aside for the projects under NAPC's anti-poverty programs, both on-going and still to be implemented. The programs are classified into: environment and ancestral domain, basic infrastructure, workers' protection, livelihood or micro enterprise, agricultural development, social services, housing, and poverty monitoring.
......According to the NAPC secretariat, the list of programs and projects presented during the workshop was "partial" and an offshoot of the agency's initiatives in crafting the National Anti-Poverty Action Agenda. The commission, however, assures that the list "indicates a strong government's emphasis on poverty eradication."