Philippines falls behind on MDG progress

By Riza T. Olchondra, Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

MANILA — The Philippines is years behind on most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) it committed to achieve by 2015, the country’s top statistician revealed. National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary-General Romulo A. Virola said Tuesday in a post at the NSCB website that the Philippines was well on its way to achieving Environmental Sustainability (MDG No. 7) and developing a Global Partnership for Development (MDG NO. 8), with debt services down and cellular phone subscriptions up. However, the country is either years behind on the first six goals or have mixed results in the sub-targets, according to NSCB data. Virola said that in a recent conference on MDGs, among the suggestions raised were that the Philippines should strengthen its statistical monitoring capability, localize the MDGs further, and internally set more ambitious targets in areas where the country was said to be performing well. The first six goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Under MDG Goal No. 1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), the Philippines is six years behind target, with a “medium” probability of halving prevalence of underweight children under 5 years of age. The Philippines is 8.4 years behind the target of minimizing the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line. According to Virola, the probability of achieving this sub-target is “medium,” noting “a very slight increase” in poverty incidence in the population between 2006 and 2009. “Despite all the noble MDG efforts to halve poverty by 2015, unacceptably many people continue to live in poverty,” Virola said. Under the goal of achieving universal primary education, the Philippines has shown a “definitive deterioration” of the country’s human capital, Virola said. As for the goal of reducing child mortality, the Philippines has been performing well, slashing by two-thirds the mortality rates of infants and children under 5, Virola said. However, the Philippines is still 3.5 and 3.9 years behind target on the under-5 and infant mortality rates, respectively. On MDG Goal No. 6, or combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, the Philippines is 4.2 and 5.4 years ahead of target, managing to reverse the prevalence and death rates associated with the diseases, according to NSCB data. In September 2000, the Philippines was one of the signatories of the U.N. Millennium Declaration to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide.