A senior cabinet official on Saturday urged government agencies to “make good” on the administration’s pledge to reduce poverty by nine percent by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Despite the Philippines’ commitment under the Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty from its 1991 level by 2015 (from 34.4 percent to 17.2 percent), poverty incidence has declined only a few percentage points to 26.3 percent, National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Secretary Liza Maza said.
Maza said this renders the target to reduce poverty by 9 percent within six years as “ambitious”—but not impossible.
“It would be possible if government reverses decades of anti-people policies and makes a serious effort at what we hold to be the lasting solutions to poverty—the abandonment of neoliberal economic policy and the enactment of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization,” Maza said.
“Let alone that official figures likely understate the country’s real poverty levels, this means that the economic and social policies of last two decades have largely failed in addressing poverty and have in fact left more Filipinos poor, in terms of magnitude,” she added.
Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the Duterte administration is seriously focusing on fighting poverty.
“The difference between this administration and the previous one is that there has been no change in the past six years,” Diokno said.
“We are carefully monitoring poverty incidence. Our hope is that we can reduce poverty incidence by 1.25 to 1.5 percent every year,” he added.
Maza said that her agency will vigilantly coordinate and monitor the anti-poverty programs of government agencies as well as enhance meaningful representation and participation of the basic sectors in the implementation of the programs.
“We will do our part by serving as the preeminent advocate of the Filipino poor in the policy process and in public discourse,” she added.