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The Future of Filipino Children: Development Issues and Trends
Edited by:
Florangel Rosario-Braid
Ramon R. Tuazon
Ann Lourdes C. Lopez
Design and Layout:
Ma. Imelda E. Samson
Photo Credits:
UNICEF, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication,
Imelda Samson
The Future of Filipino Children: Development Issues and
Trends was made possible with support provided by the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the National
Research Council of the Philippines (NCRP) to the Asian
Institute of Journalism and Communication.
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and
do not necessarily reflect the views of UNICEF or AIJC.
For copies, please contact the Asian Institute of
Journalism and Communication (AIJC) at telephone
numbers (6 32) 724-4576, 743-4321, 740-0396, email
address: [email protected].ph and website:
ISBN: 978-971-529-069-2
Development Issues and Trends
Foreword .............................................................................................................................................................. v
Introduction: Building a Nation Fit for Children.............................................................................................. vii
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles: Impact on Child and Devellopment ...... 2
by Dr. Trinidad Osteria
Promoting Gender Equality: Opportunities and Challenges ......................................................... 24
by Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea
Cultural Diversity: Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development ........................................ 40
by Dr. Carmen A. Abubakar
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond: Education and Literacy .............................. 60
by Dr. Minda C. Sutaria
The Role of Social Protection in Upholding Child Rights ............................................................... 88
by Alicia R. Bala
Population and the Future of Children ......................................................................................... 116
by Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia
Food Security of Filipino Children in the Medium Term............................................................... 134
by Dr. Emil Q. Javier, Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan,
Dr. Mercedes A. Sombilla and Riza M. Trumata
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today .............................................................................................. 156
by Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits for the Future Generation ............................................... 172
by Dr. Francisco L. Viray and Myrna M. Velasco
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children ............................................................................... 190
by Dr. Cielito F. Habito
Impact of Public Governance on the Rights of the Child ............................................................. 208
by Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta
Development Issues and Trends
Communication Media and the Future of Filipino Children ........................................................ 228
by Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid and Ramon R. Tuazon
The Partners ................................................................................................................................................... 256
The Expert-Writers .......................................................................................................................................... 258
Development Issues and Trends
In our work for children, we recognize that our efforts are only as good as our ability to enable children to develop and reach their full potential. It is because of this that we supported the Asian Institute of Journalism (AIJC) to produce the Megatrends study in 1998, which examined the prevailing issues and trends affecting children at that time and established their impact on child development decades after. This new book The Future of Filipino Children, similar to its predecessor, is as invaluable not only to UNICEF but to all decision-­‐makers in Philippine society who are influential in bringing about a nurturing environment for the children of this nation. It presents authoritative data and insights by experts on the themes covered, from their analysis of current and emerging development trends. It also helps us to create responsive programmes and policies by not only addressing persistent challenges (such as poverty, low literacy and armed conflict among others), but by directing our attention as well to issues such as gender inequality, overseas labor migration and use of information technology that may at first seem peripheral to children’s lives but are shown to be highly influential. Further, the alternative approaches it offers gives us the opportunity to re-­‐think our present strategies to better achieve long-­‐term benefits for children. It is my hope that this book will inspire future initiatives to track the country’s progress on children’s issues. I’m sure the knowledge offered here will help us move closer towards our goal of a Philippines truly fit for children. VANESSA TOBIN Country Representative VI
Development Issues and Trends
Building a nation fit for children
In 1998, the Asian Institute of Journalism and
Communication (AIJC) with the support of UNICEF
published the pioneering study, Megatrends: The
Future of Filipino Children. The study attempted to
define a vision for the Filipino adult and a scenario
for the Filipino family in 2020 by identifying and
analyzing issues and trends affecting the Filipino
child in the nineties and how these would affect
the future of the child twenty-five years hence. The
“megatrends” observed in the study formed the
bases for scenarios and policy recommendations.
More than a decade later, the 1998 study has been
updated, also with UNICEF support. The Future of
Filipino Children: Development Issues and Trends
is a compilation of twelve sectoral papers written
by experts in their respective fields. As in the first
study, it tracks and analyzes current and emerging
issues and trends affecting Filipino children today
and how these would affect their future by focusing
on five themes: (1) family and community life, (2)
human capital, (3) human security, (4) political
and economic development, and (5) ICT and
communication media.
As in the earlier study, the expert-writers attempted
to respond to the following key questions: What
early warning indicators and significant trends
influence the development of the Filipino child?
How are these forces shaping the environment
for the coming years? How can today’s decisionmakers “intervene” to safeguard the well-being of
children and prepare them for the 21st century?
In terms of time frame, the papers show how the
issues, indicators and trends affecting Filipino
children today will shape the future of the youth
and would-be-adults in 2015 and 2020. The year
2015 coincides with the global deadline to achieve
the United Nations Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs), while 2020 is the target year for
“A Vision for the Filipino Adult” and “Qualities of
Institutions that Would Support the Vision” that
were formulated in the Megatrends study.
Enabling policymakers
A UNICEF report has noted, “Children pay the
heaviest price for our short-sighted policies (and
programmes). But certainly, they will also be the
beneficiaries of whatever investments we now
make for their future.” A futuristic study such as
this would enable policymakers in government and
other sectors to take a more long-term, holistic and
strategic perspective of child survival, protection,
participation and development. In supporting the
study, UNICEF suggests that “such an initiative
may be able to provide decision-makers a better
understanding of environmental trends which could
contribute towards the crafting of creative and
responsive policies.”
The new study has been prepared for use
particularly by individuals and organizations in
government, business and industry, and civil
society involved in socioeconomic planning. For
government, the study is envisioned to be valuable
to policymakers from the National Economic
and Development Authority (NEDA), Council for
the Welfare of Children (CWC), Early Childhood
Care and Development (ECCD) Council, and
Departments of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD), Health (DOH), and Education (DepEd),
legislators in the Senate, House of Representatives,
and the Sanggunian of Local Government Units
(LGUs), and local chief executives such as
governors, mayors and barangay captains.
We hope that this report will also be useful to
the UN Country Team as it finalizes the Common
Country Assessment (CCA) which will serve as
basis for the formulation of a new UN Development
Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in the Philippines.
As the different UN agencies prepare their
respective country programs, we trust that they will
find the issues and insights contained in the papers
relevant and compelling. The report can also
provide valuable inputs in the preparation of the
upcoming Medium-Term Philippine Development
Plan 2012-2016.
The Future of Filipino Children: Development Issues
and Trends comes at a time when the nation is
Development Issues and Trends
looking forward to a new government. We hope
that the policy options and action agenda included
in the component papers of this study will be
considered by the incoming government in charting
a better future for our Filipino children.
Research methodology
The research process was essentially qualitative,
with scenario building supported by available
data from the National Statistics Office and
recent studies, among others. The paper writers
themselves were the main source of information,
considering that they are well-known and respected
experts in their respective areas of study.
Tracking commomonalities
In examining current and emerging issues and
trends under the five themes (i.e., family and
community life, human capital, human security,
political and economic development, and ICT and
communication media), the individual papers came
out with fresh insights and scrupulous analysis.
At the same time, significant commonalities were
tracked across the papers. These commonalities
are herein summarized as development challenges
and development approaches, as they relate to
the well-being of Filipino children today and in the
Development Challenges
In addition to their expert’s analysis, additional
information was drawn from: (a) interviews
(personal or online) with other international or local
experts, (b) review/analysis of secondary data
especially recent research studies, proceedings
of related conferences, and development agency
reports, and (c) inputs from peers during policy
As a common framework, all expert-writers used
the United Nations Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) as quantitative indicators of children’s
Common reference-documents included the
Philippines Midterm Report on the Millennium
Development Goals (2007), Concluding
Observations: Philippines, UN Committee on the
Rights of the Child (2005 and 2009), A World Fit
for Children (Goals, Strategies and Actions), “A
Vision for the Filipino Adult in the Year 2020” and
“Qualities of Institutions (in 2020) that Would
Support the Vision” (from Megatrends: The Future
of Filipino Children), and “Child 21 Vision for Every
Filipino Child” (from Philippine National Strategic
Framework for Plan Development for Children,
Development Issues and Trends
The country’s paramount challenge is
widespread poverty, and children rank
third among the basic sectors with the
highest poverty incidence.
Rapid population growth is directly linked
to poverty and is an impediment to
socioeconomic development.
The sectors that suffer the most are
families with no livelihood or very low
level of income, those with minimal or
no education, those living in rural areas,
indigenous peoples, and children and
The Philippines has no lack of sound
plans, programs, policies and laws,
but failure lies in the breakdown of
law enforcement, inconsistencies and
ambiguities in the laws, and difficulties in
coordination and implementation.
Other governance issues that constitute
barriers to achieving desired development
goals include the ongoing conflict
and instability in Mindanao and other
rebel-controlled areas, corruption in
the political, administrative and justice
systems, control of political power by the
few, and inadequate funding for basic
services and development programs,
among others.
Serious gender issues persist, such as
gender inequality in decision making,
domestic violence and other forms of
abuse against women and children, and
feminization of overseas labor migration.
Development Approaches
Basic social services, such as health
care, education, employment, family
planning, and social protection programs,
must be viewed as investment rather than
The national government must focus on
ensuring investments in public services
and on delivering effective regulation and
efficient facilitation services.
Local government units must
unconditionally and with a sense
of urgency fulfill their front-line role
in delivering basic services and
socioeconomic interventions to the
poorest of the poor and the most
disadvantaged, among them the children.
The economic benefits of overseas
employment contrast with immediate
and long-term issues such as the safety
and security of migrant workers and
detrimental effects on the children and
family left behind.
Globalization has opened up the country
to various challenges, including a growing
demand abroad for workers in domestic
work, health care, child minding and club
entertainment, and the creation of local
jobs from the proliferation of business
process outsourcing.
While the use of new information and
communication technologies gives
Filipino children and youth a winning
edge in this present Knowledge Society,
there are many perils in excessive or
inappropriate media use at the levels of
the individual and of society in general.
The Cyber Age has brought with it a
“digital divide” (with a small fraction of
households owning personal computers
and a minority having access to the
Internet), further underscoring the
continuing inequities in Philippine society.
These numerous challenges are
multidimensional, interdisciplinary and
multi-sectoral in nature.
The multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary
nature of development challenges can be
best addressed by government through
interagency teamwork and collaboration
at the national, regional and community
Maximum effectiveness and efficiency
can be achieved by focusing on and
strengthening approaches that have
demonstrated greatest success, such as
community- and family-based initiatives
and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Focused targeting of lagging regions or
poorer localities can address disparities
or uneven development, such as high
poverty areas which have shown positive
signs of development in health or
Development Issues and Trends
Positive interventions by civil society
and people’s organizations can be
replicated and scaled up to complement
government programs and can be further
enhanced with policy and resource
For indigenous peoples, including
Muslims, the development process
must recognize cultural diversity as
an overarching principle and peace
negotiations must be grounded on social
justice as the basis for harmony and
Addressing gender biases in various
spheres of life and advancing women’s
participation in development are key to
promoting children’s rights and welfare.
Children and youth can be effective
agents for development, and their
meaningful participation in planning,
advocacy and implementation can be a
powerful human resource.
Public information and advocacy in the
planning, implementation and monitoring
of development programs, projects and
activities are critical components to
achieve desired goals and targets for
national development.
The new media has opened up
opportunities never before existing.
With the youth as its most receptive and
prolific users, it must now be harnessed
as a tool to bridge disparities and reduce
inequities in Philippine society.
Development Issues and Trends
New Development Paradigms
Given these development challenges and the
various approaches proposed, it is evident that
working for the welfare and future of Filipino
children demands new paradigms that transcend
disciplinal biases, sectoral boundaries, geographic
borders, political timetables, and personal
interests. In this context, the following development
paradigms are put forward to enrich perspectives in
planning and decision making:
Multidisciplinary and Transdisciplinary
The multidisciplinary and/or
interdisciplinary approach enables
individuals and organizations to respond
to complex development issues and
problems in a comprehensive and holistic
manner by drawing inputs from various
disciplines, e.g., social sciences, natural
sciences, and applied areas.
In using the multidisciplinary approach
in the social sciences, the issue of
peace and security, for example, can
be closely examined by drawing from
analytical frames, theories, principles
and tools of psychology, sociology,
anthropology, economics, history and
communication. A related concept is the
transdisciplinary approach wherein issues
are examined from an even broader prism
by interrelating different basic, applied
natural and physical and social sciences.
The popularity of “alternatives”
may have emerged from a growing
dissatisfaction with “traditional” or
mainstream approaches which are
perceived to have failed to achieve
desired development goals or meaningful
changes or reforms. For example, in
the education sector, the concept of
alternative learning system covers both
nonformal and informal education
settings as an alternative to traditional
schooling. In the communication sector,
the public broadcasting system (PBS)
and community media are regarded as
“alternatives” to mainstream commercial
or government-controlled media agencies.
In the justice system, alternative
dispute resolution mechanisms include
mediation, arbitration, conciliation, and
sector, school-based management is
now recognized in many countries as a
preferred approach to making schools
effective and relevant to learners’ needs.
Alternative Development Interventions
Closely linked with communitybased development is participatory
development. It challenges traditional
development approaches which are
described as elitist and top-down, have
the tendency to equate development
with modernity, and view local people as
mere “objects” of development programs.
In contrast, participatory development
enables local communities to articulate
their priority development needs and
participate in the development process
– from planning to monitoring and
evaluation. Participatory development
democratizes “power and control” over
development initiatives, decisions, and
Community-Based Development
Individual and community empowerment
has led to preference for bottom-up
development strategies where the socalled “beneficiaries” (participants) of
development now play an important and
active role. This role includes defining
development goals, objectives and
approaches; planning and managing
programs and projects; documenting
lessons and experiences; and measuring
success and impact. Community-based
approaches facilitate experiential learning
and popular participation.
The UN 1979 Report on the World Social
Situation defines community participation
as “sharing by people in the benefits
of development, active contribution by
people to development and involvement
of people in decision making at all levels
of society.” The concept of community
participation is best captured in the
popular African proverb, “It takes a
village to raise a child.” In the education
Participatory Development
Social Capital as the “Missing Link” in
Development Equation
The history of social capital can be traced
to the early 1990s. The World Bank
considers it to be the “missing link” in
the development equation and defines
the concept as “the informal rules, norms
and long-term relationships that facilitate
coordinated action and enable people
to undertake cooperative ventures for
mutual advantage.” Social scientist
Robert Putnam refers to it as “features of
social organizations that facilitate action
and cooperation for mutual benefits.”
According to Pierre Bourdieu (1985),
in ordinary language, social capital is
Various studies have identified numerous
benefits of social capital. It is a
fundamental element in the alleviation
of vulnerability and the expansion of
opportunities (Moser, 1996). Social
Development Issues and Trends
capital is a fundamental element in
informal entrepreneurship, “as parts
of the informal sector are built on
local salient networks, supported by
community loyalty, trust and patronage”
(Lloyd Evans, 1997).
price subsidies, food programs,
employment programs, retraining
programs, and emergency loans.
In zero-sum context, if one gains, another
loses. The concept was first developed
in game theory. On the other hand,
situations where everybody gets a fair
share of benefits or gains together are
referred to as non-zero-sum or “win-win.”
Application of the non-zero-sum concept
is common in economics and other fields
of social sciences such as psychology,
political science, and communication.
Non-zero-sum is particularly relevant in
peace negotiations.
Social Protection Framework
Social protection targets the most
vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors.
The National Economic and Development
Authority (NEDA) defines it as “policies
and programs that seek to reduce poverty
and vulnerability to risks and enhance
the social status and rights of the
marginalized by promoting and protecting
livelihood and employment, protecting
against hazards and sudden loss of
income, and improving people’s capacity
to manage risks.” Social protection has
four components: social welfare, labor
market interventions, social insurance,
and social safety nets.
Learning Paradigms
Lifelong Learning. A lifelong learning
mind-set encourages the individual from
early childhood to explore the world
around him or her, to be curious, to have
a sense of wonder, to be inquisitive,
to raise questions, to investigate and
to probe. It recognizes that learning
takes place anytime throughout life and
in a range of situations and settings.
Knowledge acquisition happens not
only in the school but also in the home,
community, and workplace, among
others. One pursues learning for personal
and professional improvement and to be
able to contribute to the common good.
Life-Wide Learning. The Education Bureau
of the Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region defines Life-Wide Learning as
a strategy that aims to move student
learning beyond the classroom into other
learning contexts. Students undergo
experiential learning in the family,
social service organizations, business
organizations, religious organizations,
government, mass media, and the
Internet, etc. It provides learners with
The social welfare component consists
of preventive and developmental
interventions that seek to support
the minimum basic requirements of
the poor and reduce risks associated
with unemployment, resettlement,
marginalization, illness, disability, old
age and loss of family care. Labor market
interventions are measures that aim to
enhance employment opportunities and
protection of the rights and welfare of
Social insurance programs seek to
mitigate income risks by pooling
resources and spreading risks across
time and classes. Examples are microinsurance, agricultural insurance and
social support funds. Social safety nets
are stop-gap mechanisms that address
effects of economic shocks, disasters and
calamities on specific vulnerable groups.
Measures include emergency assistance,
Development Issues and Trends
A Non-Zero-Sum Development Strategy
“Glocalization” empowers local
communities to participate in the global
exchange of ideas, products and services.
This has been facilitated by the advent
of information and communication
technology (ICT). For example, children
and young people readily upload through
YouTube their arts and music for sharing
and exchange with a worldwide audience.
balanced development covering five
domains – intellectual, physical, social,
ethical and aesthetics.
Comprehensive Thinking. This is
characterized by a capacity to see
the relationship between the social,
economic, cultural, political, and
technological aspects of the environment
and to make decisions on the basis of an
understanding of its costs, benefits, and
Ecological Intelligence. Ecological
intelligence is the capacity to evaluate
the costs and consequences of
environmental decisions that may appear
as environmentally sound but may, in
fact, not be so because of the impact of
earlier decisions in the production cycle.
The Family of 21st Century Survival
Literacies. The family of 21st Century
“survival literacies” includes the
following six categories: (1) basic or
core functional literacy fluencies of
reading, writing, oralcy and numeracy;
(2) computer literacy; (3) media literacy;
(4) distance education and e-learning;
(5) cultural literacy; and (6) information
literacy. The boundaries of these related
competencies overlap but they should be
seen as a closely knit family.
Team Learning. A team learning approach
encourages learners to interact, share
and learn from one another. This can
be facilitated by teachers and the
new information and communication
technologies. The team learning
environment further facilitates critical and
creative thinking.
Balancing Globalization with
There are deliberate initiatives to
“balance” globalization with local
innovations and technologies.
The Human Rights-Based Approach to
The UN Reform Program launched
in 1997 calls on all UN agencies to
mainstream human rights into their
various activities and programs within
the framework of their respective
mandates. The UN Statement of Common
Understanding provides, among others,
that human rights standards contained in,
and principles derived from, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and other
international human rights instruments
should guide all development cooperation
and programming in all sectors and in all
phases of the programming process.
Among these human rights principles
are: universality and inalienability;
indivisibility; interdependence and
interrelatedness; non-discrimination and
equality; participation and inclusion;
accountability and the rule of law.
The Statement also provides that
development cooperation programs
should contribute to the development of
the capacities of duty-bearers to meet
their obligations and of rights-holders to
claim their rights.
Sustainable Development
The Brundtland Commission
defines sustainable development as
“development that meets the needs of
the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet
their own needs” (World Commission
Development Issues and Trends
on Environment and Development,
1987). Drawing from the Johannesburg
Summit of 2002, the concept has been
widened to include social justice and the
alleviation of poverty.
Moral, Spiritual or Transcendent
This framework, perhaps the most
important backbone of development,
is often missing. It encompasses the
domains of philosophy and ethics and
provides the compass for the other
development aspects - social, economic,
political, cultural, etc.
Minimum Basic Needs (MBN) Approach
The MBN Approach is a strategy of
prioritizing primary requirements to
ensure that the basic needs of the
individual, family and community are
met. If the family is unable to meet its
minimum basic needs on a sustained
basis, then the family is considered to be
in a state of poverty.
Development Issues and Trends
The Minimum Basic Needs-Community-Based
Poverty Indicator and Monitoring System (MBNCBPIMS) is a barangay-based information system
that uses indicators for measuring MBN status of
local residents. It consists of 33 indicators of which
24 are identified as core indicators of poverty.
These indicators are classified as survival needs
(e.g., food/nutrition, health, water/sanitation and
clothing), security needs (shelter, peace, income
and employment), and enabling needs (basic
education/literacy, people’s participation, family
care and psychosocial).
The future of the country a decade or a century
hence is already in our midst – in the very lives of
today’s Filipino children. As this study has tracked
issues and identified trends in the national and
global environment that impact on them, our
fervent hope is that planners and decision-makers
at various levels, together with families and
communities, shall find compelling reason to match
intent with action and to marshal efforts in building
a nation truly fit for our children and our children’s
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
Changing Family Structure
and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child Development
By Dr. Trinidad Osteria
1. Background
In 1998, UNICEF and the Asian Institute of
Journalism and Communication published the book
Megatrends: The Future of Filipino Children. One of
the sectoral papers focused on gender and family
relations which addressed three basic questions:
What forces influence the transformation
of the family with concomitant changes in
gender-power relations that impact on the
Filipino child?
How are these forces shaping the
family environment within the country’s
changing socio-political and economic
milieu in the next 25 years?
How can the prevention and response
systems preserve the family to safeguard
the well-being of children and prepare
them for the 21st century?
The analytical framework visualized the Filipino
child as a mature adult in 2020. The desired adult
attributes are perceived to be achieved through
supportive institutions with qualities that catalyze
the attainment of the enunciated vision. (Table 1)
Table 1. Research Framework of Megatrends and the Future of the Filipino Child
Qualities of Institutions (in 2020) that
Vision for the Filipino Adult in the
would support the Vision
Year 2020
• Equitable economic growth and moral
• The family as the core of relationships.
• Education as a catalyst for humanistic and
sustainable development.
• Cooperation and dialogue are fostered
between government, business and the
• Alternative grassroots institutions are
mobilized for economic, social and
political mediation.
• Democratic institutions promote pluralism,
justice, equity and social responsibility.
• At home with one’s cultural identity, a
blending of East and West
• Imbued with spirituality and moral
• Enterprising, competitive and
• Creative and articulate
• Responsible and aware of rights and
• Caring, sharing and nurturing
• Possessing a global outlook
• Independent/autonomous in thinking
and perspective
• Economically self-sufficient
• Active in community life and nationbuilding
• Well-balanced
• Self-reliant
Source: Research Framework and Methodology in Megatrends: The Future of Filipino Children, 1998.
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
This paper is divided into two parts:
An examination of the extent to which the
earlier assumptions on shifting family
structure and gender roles influence child
survival, protection and development
were validated in the past decade.
Attention is given to external influences
that impact on these two entities (family
modification and change in gender-power
relations); and
An analysis of emerging concerns in
family and gender relations that may
impact on child survival, protection and
development in 2020. New and revised
trends are presented in the light of these
Basically, it addresses two questions:
Are the premises on the Filipino family
with its delineated gender roles and
influence on the vision of the Filipino
adult still feasible given the modifications
in the external environment?
How will the changes influence the vision
of the Filipino adult by 2020?
Part I: Assessment of the 1998
Scenarios and Their Viability in
the 21st Century
The previous book (Megatrends 1) provided the
frame for the assessment of women’s status,
family relations, lifestyles and the development of
the child.
In Figure 1, the positive and negative trends related
to women and the family are presented with the
likely impact on the child. Program/policy options
are posited to avert the negative impact. Positive
trends for women include: a) political and economic
empowerment; b) improved quality of life; and c)
autonomy in decision making within the milieu of
economic and political development. The negative
trends encompass: a) parental migration for
employment; b) alternative marriage arrangements;
and c) emergence of single- (male or female)
headed households as a result of partnership
dissolution. These occur against the backdrop of
poverty and family dysfunction.
Figure 1. Matrix of Women’s Situation, Family Scenario, Likely Impact on the Child,
and Program/Policy Options.
Women’s Situation
Positive Trends
• Increased political
• Increased
• Improved educational
• Increased access to
resources (credit,
skills, land)
• Media portrayal of
women in a positive
Negative Trends
• Persistence of
patriarchy and
subordination of
• Low level of
education and lack of
• Low level of
participation in
political decision
• Ascribed gender roles
in the family
• Negative media
influence in terms
of gender roles and
Family Scenario
Likely Impact on the
Program and Policy
• Reduced family size
• Gender equality in
decision making
and participation
in household and
economic activities
• Better standard of living
• Freedom of choice in
• Low dependency level
• Increased survival and
decreased morbidity
and mortality
• Access to adequate
food and improved
• Enhanced childrearing
patterns and gender
• Access to and
completion of primary,
secondary and tertiary
education by girls and
• Access to health
• Family bonding and
inculcation of spiritual
and moral values
• Establishment of
positive role models
from the family, media,
church and community
• Social development
programs dealing with
families and children
• Family code
supportive of children
independent of their
legitimacy status
• Local government
resources meeting the
basic needs of women
and children
• Increased number
of health centers,
schools, teachers and
health manpower
• Food availability,
accessibility and
• Legislative
and regulatory
mechanisms for
creating social
safety nets for poor
and disadvantaged
families and children
• Legal assistance to
children in need of
• GO-NGO partnerships
for development
• Large family size
• Unilateral decision
making of males
regarding family and
productive activities
• High level of poverty
and poor living
• Lack of access to
educational opportunity
and health facilities by
• Domestic violence
• Lack of judicial redress
for disadvantaged and
battered women
• Poor health and
• Multiple burden of
productive work
and household
• Increased infant and
childhood mortality and
• Child malnutrition
• Low level of education
particularly among girls
• High dropout rates and
low completion rates
• Drug abuse, premarital
pregnancy, abortion
among adolescents
• Child labor; child
• Early marriage
• Trafficking, prostitution,
• Juvenile delinquency
• Child health
programs including
• Nutrition education
and supplementation
• Improved water and
sanitation system
• Alternative education
• Enhanced information
and education
programs addressing
adolescent problems
• Health manpower and
teachers’ training
• Effective legislation
on child protection
• Social safety nets for
Source: Osteria, T. 1998. Gender and Family Relations. Iin Megatrends: The Future of Filipino Children.
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
The goals for the Filipino child at various stages of
the life cycle are succinctly presented in Figure 2.
Figure 2 identifies the facilitating and constraining
forces in women’s roles, family attributes,
community characteristics, institutional factors
and the social sectors that impact on children’s
welfare at different segments of their life cycle.
These forces interact to exert negative or positive
influences on the child.
Figure 2. Goals for the Filipino at Different Stages of the Life Cycle. (from Megatrends 1)
Women’s Attributes
• Economically independent
• Well educated
• Equal with men in household and
economic decisions
• Healthy and well nourished
• With freedom of choice in
reproduction and childbearing
Family Characteristics
Economically viable
With positive linkage with
• Participation in political decision
• Access to affordable services
Infant (0-1 year)
• Improved health and nutritional
• Psychomotor and sensory
• Cognitive development
Socialization skills
Good health and nutritional status
Emotional balance
Non-discrimination by sex
School Age (6-12 years)
• Gender equity in access to
• Good health and nutritional status
• Moral and spiritual values
• Sense of responsibility
• Social competence
Adolescence (13-17 years)
• Gender socialization skills
• Internalization of positive family
values and positive media influence
• Critical and independent thinking
• Gender equality in opposite sex
• Life skills to deal with problems
• Identity formation
Early Adulthood (18-20 years)
Institutional Factors
• National/Provincial/Municipal
support to families and children
• Political will to address family and
children’s concerns
• Available health and social
• Social policies/priorities dealing
with family in development agenda
• Family laws protective of women
and children
Social Sectors
• Access to social services
• Availability of competent staff
• Affordability of services
Women’s Roles
Early Childhood (2-5 years)
Community Factors
• Consultative leadership
• Political leaders supportive of
families and children
• Financial and technical
assistance to disadvantaged
• Involvement of program
beneficiaries in their
• Responsibility
• Capacity
• Participation in economic and
social decisions/activities
• Spiritual and moral values
• Independence
• Social competence
Subordination and subservience
Economic dependence
Poor health and malnutrition
Maternal morbidity
Low educational level
Family Functions
Single parenthood
Lack of access to social services
Lack of knowledge of legal rights
Passive recipient of services
Disruptive and dysfunctional
family members
• Neglect and physical abuse
Community Factors
• Autocratic/corrupt leadership
• Wrong sense of priorities
• Lack of understanding of public
• Lack of administrative capacity
• Top-down program development
• Lack of resources for women and
children’s programs
Institutional Factors
• Low priority given to social
development and family welfare
• Absence of political support to
women and children
• Lack of resources for women’s
and children’s programs
• Bureaucracy
• Policies/Programs/Legislation
Neglect of family and child
Late Adulthood (21-25 years)
(Year 2020)
Strong sense of cultural identity
Spiritual and moral values
National identity
Competitive nature and
• Sense of duty, global outlook
Social Sectors
Highly centralized programs
Lack of services and staff
Financial constraints
The need to enhance the status of women and
strengthen the role of the family as an institution
highlights the importance of analyzing the
processes in which women, family relations and
the external environment promote the development
of the child. Clusters of interacting elements, not
single factors, account for the success or failure of
strategies. The interlocking web links intra-familial
dynamics, institutions, programs and policies
as they combine and permutate to influence the
vision of the Filipino adult by the year 2020. The
degree to which these interrelations lead to the
achievement of the multiple goals enunciated in
Table 1 has to be assessed to draw the lessons.
Without an appreciation of how families and
institutions through policies and programs
influence gender relations and child development,
objectives are not likely to be realized and the
means of attaining them will be unsustained.
Figure 3 provides the framework for the
assessment of program operations where
the desired and feasible program scopes are
Programs will encounter traps and pitfalls if the
interaction among key players, their objectives,
and program implementation mechanisms are not
harmonized. The challenge is to select from among
the different configurations the optimum mix that
would link the family to a salubrious environment
to ensure gender equity among the members and
improve the situation of children. The attainment
of the vision for the Filipino adult by the year
2020 is an intensive process of operationalizing
family micro-level strategies and gender equity
in roles and responsibilities by connecting them
with relevant institutions to ensure the viability of
schemes aimed at child welfare and development.
The present concern is how the family’s
contemporary forms with equitable gender roles
can affirm the right and development of the child in
the midst of globalization, economic restructuring,
financial adjustment and media revolution.
Figure 3. Desired and Feasible Program Scope to Achieve the Vision of the Filipino Adult in 2020
Positive women’s roles in
enhancing child development
Improvement of status of
women through increased
access to education,
employment and resources
Adequate family support to
women for child development
Enhanced community
assistance to the family
particularly women and
Adequate financial and
technical support to families
and children from GOs, NGOs,
and POs
Program support to
marginalized and
disadvantaged families
Conducive political, economic
and social environment for
family welfare and child
Assistance toward the
promotion of education of girls
and boys
Partnerships between GOs
and NGOs in Family and Child
Welfare Programs
Resource mobilization,
coordination and linkages
for women’s and children’s
Achievement of Goals
for the Filipino Adult by Year 2020
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
2. Scenario Setting
Development trends that impact on the family with
implications on child development form the basis of
the three alternative scenarios set with implications
on women and children:
Increasing poverty levels, internal and
overseas migration of one parent,
nucleation of the family, erosion of values;
increase in women-headed households;
and rise in poor urban communities.
Improvement of the status of women
brought about by increased labor force
participation, educational opportunity,
modernization, weakening of traditional
ties, and shift toward equitable gender
power relations.
Strong state support to gender equality
and the family.
2.1 The first scenario is increasing poverty levels,
migration to cities and outside the country
for work by one parent, nucleation of family,
proliferation of poor communities particularly
in urban areas and rise in poor female-headed
Increased rural poverty impacts on the family.
To augment income, females take low-paying
domestic work and piece-rate contracts. The
feminization of work carries some negative effects.
Paid employment outside the home leads to
double burden as women carry the tasks of home
management and participation in the informal
sector of the economy. Less attention is given to
child rearing arising from intra-household tensions.
Urban migration is increasing. The city becomes a
relatively large, dense, and permanent settlement
of socially heterogenous individuals growing rapidly
through urban migration. There is a decline of
kinship, neighborhood, and informal groupings
with the growth of informal agencies of affiliation
and control. Industrialization lags far behind the
rate of urbanization and the bulk of migrants
find at best marginal employment in cities. The
implications on the family and children can be
negative. Since urban growth is concentrated in
slums or uncontrolled peripheral settlements, basic
amenities are lacking. This urbanization process is
profoundly disruptive for it produces a fundamental
cleavage between the modernized cities and the
traditional village people. Alienation of individuals,
particularly men, leads to feelings of hopelessness,
anomie, alcoholism, domestic violence and family
dysfunction. Likewise, parental migration overseas
can create problems as the remaining spouse may
have extramarital relations and the children can
adopt a consumerist attitude.
2.2 Second, economic development, improvement
in female status, and strong community-based
structures and resources.
With economic development, males and females
gain access to educational and employment
opportunities resulting in improvement of female
status. The productive employment of more women
improves quality of life, living standards and
family harmony. With strong supportive structures,
people themselves desire change and participate
in initiating and managing these change that will
impact on children’s welfare.
Women’s involvement in development is enhanced
by resources mobilization in the community.
Partnerships between local government units and
civil society are forged to increase access to health,
education, and welfare services by the family.
Consequently, national, local and community
support structures facilitate gender equity and
enhance the well-being of children.
2.3 Strong state support.
When there is strong state support, laws against
discrimination of women in education, public life,
employment and health care as well as domestic
violence are promulgated and implemented.
Legislative support to gender equality validates
women’s and men’s rights to access to resources.
Maternity benefits and child care support
allow parents to combine family and workplace
responsibilities. The family as a participant in the
child’s development becomes the focal point of
state intervention. Children’s needs are met by
economic and social support services. The family
participates actively in the development process of
the child. (Osteria, 1998)
3. Prognostication of Alternative Scenarios
3.1 Programmatic Response
Conduct of joint GO-NGO-PO baseline
study on children’s conditions in
depressed rural and urban communities
In response to the discerned needs of children,
government executive, legislative and people’s
agendas were drawn in the short (1995-1998),
medium (1999-2005) and long terms (2005 and
beyond) which can catalyze the enunciated goals
(UNICEF, 2003). These include:
The impact of the above initiatives has yet to be
Executive Agenda
The 1997-1998 financial crisis interrupted the
realization of the positive scenario. The crisis
involved the decline in foreign exchange that
reduced the value of the Philippine currency. This
resulted in income reduction and job losses in
the country. The impact on children’s situation as
mediated by increased family poverty was manifold.
education for all, ensuring access by
multi-sectoral advocacy and mobilization
for health, nutrition, population programs
technical assistance packages for LGUs,
NGOs and POs to improve programs
directed toward children
budgetary increases for education, health
and other special services for children
Legislative Agenda
reestablishment of Juvenile and Family
Courts; stricter measures against family
violence and child abuse
complete public elementary schools
in most barangays and complete high
schools in all municipalities
bureaucratic restructuring to facilitate
wider coverage of basic education
enhancement of quality and relevance
of education through legislation on
curricular reform and certification of
People’s Agenda
Strengthened advocacy for children’s
rights under the Convention on the Rights
of the Child
Sustained NGO-PO forum on children’s
Consolidation of NGO and PO directions
on children’s concerns
More networking with GOs and LGUs for
program delivery
4. Disruption of Positive Scenario: The
1997-1998 Financial Crisis
Social and Economic Impact of the
1997 Financial Crises
4.1 Increased family poverty
Declining incomes, increased unemployment and
rising food prices caused by the peso devaluation
increased the poverty of families and presented
the apparent outcome of malnutrition and deaths
among Filipino children. Aggravating the situation
were the global warming and climate changes
phenomena which threatened food security. These
reduced the availability of food with resulting price
increases. Based on the 1998 Annual Poverty
Indicator Survey (APIS), around 50 percent of
households were affected by these high food
prices. The major consequence on the nutrition
of children has been the change in dietary intake.
With reductions in food availability, adults tended
to lessen their intake before children. Despite this,
the small amount of food resources resulted in
substantive decline in food consumption. (Reyes et
al., 1999)
4.2 Curtailment in preventive programs and
deterioration of health services affecting
childhood morbidity and mortality
Declining incomes, together with reduced
government allocation for health programs and
increasing prices of medicines, created problems.
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
Drug prices rose by 20 percent while hospital and
private clinic expenses increased. The coverage of
immunization and nutrition programs for children
and women was reduced due to decreased
government spending for these services. Declines
in funding for local government units (LGUs)
affected the financing of primary health care
services. While these reductions occurred acrossthe-board, the poor families suffered principally.
Furthermore, such income reductions increased
the number of poor families using public health
services. Ability by the public health sector to
render services was reduced while demand
increased. The impact of the crisis on health
particularly of children was compounded by the
structural changes in the Department of Health
(DOH). Responsibility for many health services
was devolved to regional, provincial and local
government levels. The budget and personnel
for this initiative was seriously affected. Hence,
organizational structures in the delivery of health
care services to families and children were not
adequately developed. (Reyes et al., 1999)
4.3 Shift from private to public schools with
increased pressures on diminished resources
Government budgetary constraints and the shift
from private to public schooling as a result of the
crisis worsened the problems in education as
In the late 1990s, primary school completion rates
averaged only 65 percent with marked regional
The completion rate was almost 100
percent in Manila but less than 30
percent in Mindanao and Eastern Visayas.
At the elementary school level, about
six children shared one textbook; and at
the secondary level, the corresponding
average was eight.
Quality of education was low – Filipino
children’s scores in mathematics, science
and reading were very much below
international averages.
Inadequate food intake limited pupil
attendance and completion.
Therefore, the crisis impacted on education
Declines in enrolment and increase in
dropout rates which were prevalent in
specific communities, such as the urban
poor, subsistence farmers, and upland
and fishing areas;
Dropout rates were higher at the
secondary education level; and
There was increased absenteeism and
decline in student participation in special
school activities. (ibid)
5. Impact on Family Support
5.1 Increased unemployment
An immediate impact of the crisis was increased
unemployment which severely affected the family.
With the reduction in overseas employment, the
total number of Filipino workers deployed in Asia
decreased by almost 25 percent in the first quarter
of 1998, compared with the first quarter of 1997.
This, coupled with increased prices, placed many
families in jeopardy with major implications for
children. (Reyes et al., 1999)
5.2 Double burden for women
Classrooms and school equipment were
lacking. Class schedules were divided into
two shifts a day, and student-to-teacher
ratios were high.
A higher proportion of women were forced to seek
outside employment even with low pay to augment
the family income. In many cases, daughters
were required to do household tasks and care for
younger siblings. The need to assist in home chores
prompted daughters to drop out of school. Boys
also dropped out of school to work in menial tasks.
In view of the external circumstances surrounding
the family and the tensions arising therein, be
they economic, social or cultural, situations
occur in which the child was expected to work for
and with the family. With increased tension and
psychological distress arising from poverty, children
were often abused or neglected and their right to
physical integrity was ignored on the assumption
that the primacy of the family automatically
confers on parents the right to make correct and
informed judgments with respect to the responsible
upbringing of future citizens. (UNICEF, 1994)
household and aggravate its dire situation. Social
conflicts and personal family tragedies (deaths,
illnesses, unemployment) occur. Hence, the desire
for instant returns outweighs investing in further
education of the children. (Lim, 2002)
The value system of the family and constituent
members plays a big factor in:
the importance given to education;
the value of child labor;
gender discrimination that prevent girls
from attending school to work; and
discrimination in pay based on sex or type
of work of children. (Lim, 2002)
6. Lessons from the Crisis
6.1 Sufficient family resources are a key to
mitigating the crisis’ impact on children
Families rely on their own resources to provide
food, shelter and education for their children.
These are drawn from savings, assistance from
relatives, and community support. The resource
base can be improved by additional income from
women. Families also respond to economic crisis
by consumption reduction which limits expenses
to bare needs. Hence, adequate income, sufficient
savings, livelihood skills and other economic
sources from initiatives such as microfinance can
provide protection against family strain. Concerns
are raised on the degree in which family resources
can meet their basic needs. Those without
resources – those near or below the poverty line
and with special needs –are the most vulnerable to
the shocks. (Reyes et al., 1999)
6.2 Social services are essential elements in
family support.
The availability and accessibility of social services
are essential elements for the family support
system. Available programs need to be in place to
reduce the effects of income reduction. Community
participation in the delivery of social services
needs to be assessed.
Poor Families and Child Labor
Poor families’ perspectives become extremely short
term as hand-to-mouth existence makes surviving
each day an extreme challenge. This short-term
horizon is influenced by poverty which can affect a
Underdeveloped economies have production
mechanisms that rely heavily on unskilled manual
labor. In unskilled labor activities, the difference
between adult’s and child’s productivity is not
much. Due to a child’s lower wage, the chances
of employing children, whether in family-based
activities or those outside the home, are increased.
Developing countries rely on the agricultural and
informal service sectors for the employment of
majority of their workers. The increase in child
workers in these sectors attests to this.
In Figure 4, it is shown that the family value
system is affected by perceived low returns to the
education of children, the high dependency burden
accruing from a large family size, poverty and
unemployment. These lead to encouragement of
child labor with negative outcomes on children.
8. Programmatic Achievements
Accomplishments related to child development and
welfare during the 1999-2003 period as shown in
the UNICEF 2001 midterm review were as follows:
The objectives of strengthening the
capacity of 25 local government units
(LGUs) to manage basic services and
support family efforts to raise, nurture
and protect children were largely on
track. The successful modeling of an
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
Figure 4. Factors Contributing to Child Labor at the Family Level.
Children and families: Supply of child labor
Family value system on
children’s education
Poor health
Low returns to education
School dropout
High dependency burden
Short-term horizon
Poverty, low income,
unemployed adults
Child abuse
Substance or drug use
Source: Joseph Anthony Lim. 2002. ADB. Regional Review: Child Labor.
integrated approach for convergent
service delivery at the LGU level has been
sealed up within the project areas since
2002 and has stimulated an additional
33 provinces and cities to develop plans
for children to be implemented using
their own resources. LGUs were selected
based on a set of criteria, including low
social development indicators spread
across the country (13 of 17 regions
are covered), counterpart funding, and
other expressions of interest from the
LGU. Effective advocacy prompted the
formulation of policy frameworks on safe
motherhood, adolescent and youth health
and development, and child health and
An evaluation study in two project
areas showed that women, particularly
in marginalized communities, who
attended female/caregiver functional
literacy classes, not only enhanced their
personal skills and self-confidence, but
also improved health-caring and seeking
behaviors, becoming active stakeholders
in program design and implementation. In
another example, community volunteers
were empowered through training to
enhance child growth. They mobilized
communities to establish, in hard-to-reach
areas, some 2,200 health and nutrition
posts to train mothers and provide
growth monitoring services, micronutrient
supplementation, and management
of minor illnesses. A rapid appraisal
in two provinces and one city showed
a strong correlation between mothers
who attended at least 50 percent of the
sessions and the improved growth of their
children. (UNICEF, 2003)
9. Legislation
In 2003, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons
Act (Republic Act 9208) to eliminate
trafficking in persons, particularly women
and children, established institutional
mechanisms for the protection and
support of trafficked persons, provided
penalties for traffickers and also
prohibited the recruitment, transport
or adoption of children for engagement
in armed activities in the Philippines or
In 2003, Republic Act No. 9231, which
amended the Special Protection of
Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation
and Discrimination Act (Republic Act No.
7610), provided for the elimination of the
worst forms of child labor and afforded
stronger protection for the working child.
In 2004, Republic Act No. 9255 allowed
illegitimate children to use the surname
of their father, amending the Family Code
of the Philippines (Article 176 of Executive
Order No. 209).
In 2004, the Anti-Violence against
Women and their Children Act (Republic
Act No. 9262) defined violence against
women and their children and provided
for protective measures for victims and
penalties for the perpetrators of this
violence. (UN Convention of the Rights of
the Child, 2005)
Part II: Developments in the
Family and Attainment of the
Vision of the Filipino Child in 2025
10. The Vision of Child 21
The Child 21 or the Philippine National Strategic
Framework of Plan Development for Children
clearly describes the vision for Filipino children in
2025 and a roadmap to achieve it. Following a life
cycle and a rights-based approach, it synchronizes
family, community and national efforts for the
realization of the rights of the child by 2025. This is
succinctly presented in Figure 5.
Within the purview of the Child 21 Vision and that
for the Filipino Adult in 2020, two questions form
the basis of discussions and debates:
What would be the effective strategies
for promoting and enhancing children’s
capacities to be mature adults while
appropriate levels of protection are
provided by the family?
How far should the government intervene
in family life to promote the capacity of
children to become mature adults in
Figure 5. Child 21 Vision
Our vision is that by 2025, every Filipino child will be:
• Born healthy and well, with an inherent right to
life, endowed with human dignity
• Happy, loved, and nurtured by a strong, stable and
God-loving family
• Living in a peaceful, progressive, gender-fair, and
child-friendly society
• Growing safe in a healthy environment and
• Free and protected by a responsive and enabling
• Reaching her (his) full potential with the right
opportunities and accessible resources
• Imbued with Filipino values steeped in her (his)
indigenous cultural heritage
• Assertive of her (his) rights as well as those of
• Actively participating in decision-making and
governance, in harmony and in solidarity with
others, in sustaining the Filipino nation.
Source: Child 21. A Legacy to the Filipino Children of the 21st
Century, Philippines National Strategic Framework for Plan
Development for Children, 2000-2025.
11. The Family Environment and Outcomes
on Children
Within the vision is the permeating role of a
nurturing family environment ensuring parental
care and support of the child without gender
discrimination through all the stages of the life
cycle. Critical in creating this enabling environment
is the strengthening of the capacity of families to
nurture children and provide them with full support.
11.1 Family, Gender Relations and Child
Families are critical to the perception, reasoning
and intuition of children. Parents provide the
positive developmental path by stimulating
children’s actions. Parents can assist children to
balance their emotional needs with independence.
They are instrumental in children’s relationships
with others. In adolescence, family rearing patterns
are transformed in a way so that the youth emerge
as independent, young adults capable of reciprocal
relations. These domains include mental health,
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
social competence, healthy relationships with
members of the opposite sex, and sufficient
education and training for economic autonomy.
Parents who promote strong identity formation
and social competence in adolescents accept their
personhood and individual points of view. Another
element of successful parenting is the monitoring
and supervision of children’s activities outside the
home, and the encouragement of their involvement
in growth-enhancing activities in school or the
community. The family environment contributes
to intellectual competence encompassing
verbal expression, problem-solving skills, logical
reasoning, and social intelligence. Poverty places
children at a disadvantage because they are
likely to experience abusive and dysfunctional
home environments. These result in delays in
development. Slow and inadequate start in school
leads to continued problems because of lower
capacity and problems in the home. To predict
child outcomes, the quality of both mothering
and fathering should be considered. Parenting
is strongly influenced by the mother-father
relationship. (Chase-Lansdale, 1998)
Low-income parents tend to have higher levels
of family problems due to depression, anger, and
alcoholism. In extreme poverty, parents in a slum
community will keep children inside the home due
to mistrust of their neighbors. Parenting in lowincome families also appears to be unpredictable
due to manifold problems. This varies from
complete neglect to physical punishment. All
of these family processes result in behavioral
and emotional problems in addition to poor
performance in school. (Chase-Lansdale, 1998)
In a society marked by gender stereotypes and
biases, children learn to adopt gender roles which
are inequitable to both sexes. As they move from
childhood to adolescence, they are exposed to
many factors which influence their attitudes and
behaviors regarding the other sex. These are
learned first in the home and reinforced by peers,
school experience, and television viewing. However,
the strongest influence on gender role development
is the family, with parents passing both overtly
and covertly to their children their own biases
about gender (Witt, 1997). Children experience
the process of gender role socialization through
games and interaction with other relatives, where
expectations are transmitted.
The impact of a shift of the family from two
parents to one can be traumatic. There have been
hypotheses that children in families disrupted by
separation are more likely to have emotional and
behavioral problems. They are also more likely to
perform poorly in school and become delinquents.
These children are likely to have a harder time
relating to others. A dysfunctional family is one
in which the relationship between parents and
children is strained. This is due to the fact that one
of the family members has a serious problem that
affects other members who adopt atypical roles
within the family to allow it to survive. The children
assume certain functions to make up for the
deficiencies of parenting. (Boyd, 1992)
Family responses to problems could be:
a) paternal alcoholism;
emotional or psychological disturbance;
physical or sexual abuse.
12. The Filipino Family and Gender Roles
12.1 Traditional Gender Roles in Families
In the Philippines, gender roles within the family
conform to the social expectations of the different
members –husband, wife, daughters, sons.
Therefore, the male and female members adjust
their behavior and reactions according to what
culture and society dictate. Husband and wife
perform their respective roles to ensure that the
relationship is complementary and harmonious.
The societal culture sets the tone for the
fulfillment of their role expectations. Masculinity
and femininity are distinctive concepts with
corresponding attributes. (Medina, 2001)
Traditionally, husbands and wives have definitive
functions. Females have the responsibility for
the upkeep of the home, childbearing and child
rearing, while the males are involved in economic
activities. Physical superiority is attributed to the
husband. Men are expected to be strong, selfconfident and rational. Females are caring, warm,
supportive and nurturing. The masculine-feminine
divide is established through socialization,
peer group standards, and cultural norms. The
differential gender role allocation within the
family still prevails in many rural communities,
ascribing to the husband economic support and
to the wife domesticity. The ideal wife is one who
is virtuous, patient, submissive, and puts the
needs of husband and children before her own.
At different stages of the life cycle of the child,
gender differentiated roles are instilled by the
parents and relatives through toys, games and sexallocated household responsibilities. Stereotyping
of male and female roles in school and media is
demonstrated succinctly in courses, textbooks and
television (e.g., a woman cooking for the children
and the husband coming home from work).
(Medina, 2001)
12.2 Changing Structure of the Family and
Implications on Gender Roles
12.2.1 Shifting Roles and Responsibilities
At the end of the twentieth and the advent of the
twenty-first century, there have been changes
in the structure of the family, emanating from
globalization, trade liberalization, overseas
labor migration, and urban-to-rural movement
of the population. Notable features of the family
are its nucleation and the rise of single-parent
households. Besides, there has been an increase
in alternative marital lifestyles, such as live-in
relationships and same-sex unions. Due to these
developments, the roles of husband and wife have
changed, conferring greater autonomy to women.
The need to achieve a work-life balance becomes
pressing as more women bear the burden of
earning and housekeeping. Aside from the basic
obligations of childbearing and domestic chores,
the woman shares with the husband the burden
of financial support to the family. The option of
participating in social, political and community
activities is open to them. All over the country, the
husband is sharing the responsibility for domestic
work and in the economic support of the family.
The rise of small-scale family enterprises has also
been noted. While better educated women work for
self-fulfillment and satisfaction, their less educated
counterparts are also seeking to improve their
Participation in the traditional labor market in the
rural areas, such as agriculture, poultry or livestock
raising, cottage industries, and storekeeping, does
not detract from household chores. Hence, such
tasks do not conflict with women’s household
responsibilities. (Ofreneo, 1999, in Medina, 2001.)
When a crisis at the household and community
level occurs, it is the women who take the brunt,
finding ways to support the family. (Tan, 2008)
Traditionally, aside from being the breadwinner
in the household, male roles include repairs
in the household, cleaning of roof gutters, and
small constructions in the home. There was the
perception that when the husband can afford to
raise a family, the wife does not have to work.
More recently, this thinking has changed to an
appreciation of the wife’s involvement in the family
economic support.
12.3 Impact of Parental Role Modification on the
The family is at the core of the network of
institutions – social, economic, political and
religious – that influence the well-being of
children. It adjusts to the changing environmental
circumstances and responds to crisis situations.
Besides, opportunities alter the role of members
and modify the ascribed gender functions. The
individual members’ beliefs, behavior and attitudes
as differentiated by sex and molded by parents and
immediate relatives are now being questioned and
Medina (2001) succinctly presented the changes
in the family which could be attributed to
modernization, urbanization and industrialization.
More favorable attitudes toward
working wives and mothers. The shift
of production functions from the home
to the workplace opened up new
opportunities for female employment.
Increased job opportunities, higher
educational attainment, reduction in the
number of children, and social legislation
on women’s rights have contributed to
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
liberal definition of appropriate behavior
of the modern generation.
the development of a favorable attitude
towards working wives and mothers.
Changing role structure of the family.
The employment of wives affects the role
structure of the family. Since the wife
works, it is more likely that household
chores and child care will be equally
shared with the husband.
Decline in the authority of the husband/
father. The shift in the economic activities
from the home to the workplace, the
many hours of work away from home
which deprive the husband/father the
opportunity to exercise authority in the
family, the working wife’s increased
independence from the husband, and
the enhanced government protection
and services for women and children
are few of the factors accounting for the
erosion of the authority of the husband/
father. The shift from a unilateral paternal
decision to couple discussion, consensus,
and compromise reduces the authority of
the father.
Decline of the family’s influence on the
individual. The family traditionally sets the
tasks members are to perform. Currently
where many tasks are done outside
the home by individuals rather than
by families, the influence of the family
over the members declines. The family
member becomes more dependent on
outside agencies, their peers, and the
More lenient norms and behavior. With
the urban agglomeration of people
from different social strata and the
corresponding anonymity that goes
with it, the city becomes the center of
social disorganization and problems.
The distance between home and the
workplace reduces family and community
interactions which are strong in the
village and rural settings. Social pressure
which deters deviant behavior in a
closely-knit community is weakened in
the city. All these contribute to a more
Breakdown of the consanguineal family
as a functional unit. The old system
of family relationships is no longer as
strong and significant. The individual’s
closeness to the kin group is weakened
by the cosmopolitanism of the urbanindustrial population. Many non-kin
personal contacts and relationships are
established in the workplace, schools
or recreational centers, as well as in the
Technological advancement, greater media
exposure, and better opportunities characterize the
Filipino society which is in transition. It presents a
composite of the modern and traditional systems.
Some of the features of this transitional state are
(Medina, 2001):
Individual mate selection as opposed to
the traditional parental involvement in the
choice of lifetime partner.
Trend toward intermarriages with
breakdown of endogamous preference in
mate selection.
Increasing openness in the discussion of
sex and greater interaction between the
Double burden for women in assuming
domestic tasks and childcare together
with paid work.
Increasing fragility of marriage as
reflected in separation, overseas
migration, annulment, and consensual
union. A rise in single-parent families is
Breakdown of the authority of elders as a
result of better education of children and
financial independence.
Young people question the authority of their elders.
They value their freedom and autonomy to make
their own decisions. Social and economic changes
challenge the stability of the family. Conflicts
in values can lead to deviance in behavior and
family disharmony where children seek solace
and support outside the household. The changing
family structure may bring about strains, conflicts
and maladjustments.
The wife’s participation in the labor force can also
affect the couple’s relations leading to domestic
violence. The most endemic form of violence
against women is wife abuse or physical harm
inflicted by male partners. Surveys generally
underestimate the extent of physical violence in
intimate relationships. This situation is attributed
to the women’s social conditioning of accepting
physical and emotional chastisement as a
husband’s marital prerogative, thereby limiting
the range of behavior considered as abuse (Heise
et al., 1994). Such acceptance is reinforced by
relatives and the community. Therefore, domestic
violence is seen as a normative behavior for sons
and daughters.
13. Impact of Shifting Gender Roles in the
Family on Children
Childbearing is important in Filipino marriages.
Traditionally, a child is expected to assist the
parents. The marital bond is not complete without
children. Due to the perspective that male
members are breadwinners, sons are desired for
financial support of parents and to carry the family
name. Daughters are expected to be involved in
the household activities in preparation for their
married lives. There is also the belief that marriage
is strengthened by children. They intervene in
misunderstandings between husband and wife.
Parents are important in the early stages of a
child’s life because they instill the roles, values
and ethics of the community that sons and
daughters must uphold. While there is concern
that a mother’s involvement in work outside the
home can lead to child neglect or delinquency, it
is somewhat rationalized by the fact that relatives
serve as surrogates in child care. Among the better
educated parents, more permissive disciplining
modes are presently adopted. In rural areas,
physical punishment is still used to discipline
children. (Medina, 2001.)
Differences in life outcomes are largely determined
by the characteristics of the family, such as its
composition and social and economic resources.
One fundamental characteristic of the Filipino
family that has significant and sustaining effects on
children is its structure – that is, the number and
relationships of members. A family structure can
constrain the availability of economic and social
resources such as parents’ ability to spend time
with their child, to be involved in their educational
activities, and to allocate finances to promote
positive educational outcomes and well-being.
Family structure can facilitate or limit the ways in
which parents are able to positively influence the
future of their children. What is less understood
is in what domains family structure matters and
the magnitude of its effects over time. (Schneider,
In her review of empirical researches, Marquez
(2004) demonstrated that young people who have
been exposed to a variety of nontraditional living
arrangements and family disruption developed
more accepting attitudes toward premarital sex,
have an increased likelihood of early sexual activity
and childbearing as well as increased prevalence
of nonsexual risk behaviors, such as smoking,
alcohol intake, drug use, theft and vandalism.
Adolescents who grew up under the supervision
of the father alone, or the father with another
partner, exhibited greater propensity toward
some risk behaviors, particularly drug use, and
commercial and premarital sex. Meanwhile, having
two biological parents in the home has been linked
with postponement of sexual activity and with fewer
partners during their lifetime. The increasing urbanward mobility of the young population, especially
among the females, leads to greater independence
and weakening of parental control. Living away
from home is the most important variable linked to
premarital sex risks among Filipino young adults.
(Marquez, 2004)
The Filipino family, which serves as the primary
social group of the adolescent, is under stress due
to absentee parenting and unstable marital unions.
This is largely due to the options taken by parents
as they deal with the pressures of a changing
environment. Such change together with increasing
migration by the adolescents gives rise to new
living arrangements, increasing their vulnerability
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
to risks. Family control over adolescents declines
due to peer and media influence. Family values
and parental guidance continue to show a
significant influence in neutralizing the effects
of media and peers. A strong, stable and intact
family environment reduces the impact of external
influences on adolescent. In the face of these risks,
it becomes important to strengthen the family as
the primary support source for adolescents and
children. “Specifically, fathers who are viewed as
heads of the family but functionally distant due
to their work outside the home should strive for
greater involvement in domestic affairs. As role
models for their sons, their presence in the home is
necessary.” (Cruz et al., 2001)
Contextual and social systems in the family are
important. Socioeconomic variables, like limited
income, unemployment, large family size, and
unplanned and single parenthood, contribute
to the expression of violent behavior toward
children. Poverty has emerged as a significant
predictor of abuse, and parental singularity or
isolation has been regarded as a significant
correlate. Often, economic hardship increases
inconsistent, rejection-oriented parental discipline.
Heavy income loss, likewise, leads to punitive
and arbitrary patterns of child rearing. Economic
hardship strains both spouse-spouse and parentchild relationships, creating even more emotional
and behavioral problems for children. (Bautista,
Roldan & Bacsal, n.d.)
Moreover, Filipino parents tend to perceive their
children as extensions of themselves rather than
individuals with their own rights. Some Filipino
parents value children to the extent that they can
give financial contributions to the household.
The attitude toward children as primarily beneficial
to the family rather than as beneficiaries of the
family is more explicit among families who live
in poverty because the usefulness of children
begins at a very early age of producers and direct
contributors to family income. For middle and
upper class families, it is only in later years, when
children are in school (school achievement being a
source of pride and fulfillment for parents), or when
the children are young working adults, or in their
parents’ old age that this view of children becomes
evident. (Bautista et al., n.d.)
As a result of the divergent outlooks of the two
generations, peer pressure and media exposure,
parents can lose control over their children.
Complaints that children are no longer as meek
as they used to be are prevalent. Children respond
to the slightest scolding, answering back with
disrespect. Due to the adherence to the old
norms of conduct, parents are disappointed
with the actions of young people. In response
to modernization, parents have become more
accepting in dealing with their children. They
listen to their expression of concern. Parents are
adapting gradually to the changing times by shifting
their child-rearing orientation from dependency
to independence, from restrictiveness to
permissiveness, from extreme control to autonomy,
and from authoritarianism to liberalism and
individuality. While acknowledging the well-being
and rights of the family, there is the challenge of
encouraging the sense of connection that families
provide. (Bautista, Roldan & Bacsal, n.d.)
In doing so, policies should foster the parent-child
link. The distinctive mandate of family policy is
to support key family relationships that promote
women’s empowerment and gender equity: a
more equitable balance of male and female
responsibilities for children, affordable and
self-child care and support. Efforts to increase
economic opportunities of poor families are an
essential element of their strengthening without
which family policies cannot be effective. (Bruce et
al., 1995)
14. Capacity Building of Children to Become
Mature Adults
The traditional assumption that children are
helpless and dependent while parents are
competent hinders the realization by adults of what
children are capable of knowing and performing.
Where children’s economic contribution to their
families affirms an interdependent relationship,
the children consistently demonstrate the
extent to which they renegotiate adult-imposed
boundaries, assert autonomy and take initiative
to shape their own lives. While in a relationship of
relative powerlessness, they nevertheless adopt
a range of strategies, including those designed to
avoid work, to enlist support in tasks undertaken
or to renegotiate workload. These strategies
involve using younger siblings, pretending not to
hear, prolonging tasks in order to avoid others,
demonstrating the burden of the workloads,
negotiating between tasks or between siblings. The
transfer of control over decision making and the
gradual assumption of the right to exercise decision
making and other responsibilities by children can
be made by increasing children’s competence in
their capacities by providing them with adequate
understanding of the risks involved, increasing
opportunities for them to gain confidence and
make informed choices, allowing them to make
decisions, and respecting their right to make
choices. (Chase-Lansdale, 1998)
socialization skills and acquisition of
positive values
cognitive and socio-emotional
enhancement of intellectual abilities
awareness and preservation of human
respect for human values, cultural identity
and heritage
Access to appropriate information is a key to
promoting children’s protection, and helping them
make safe and appropriate choices. Denying such
access does not prevent children from taking risks
but rather increases the likelihood that they will
fail to protect themselves adequately in doing so.
(Chase-Lansdale, 1998)
freedom of expression
15. Development Issues and Challenges
The basic concern is how change in family structure
and accompanying shift in parental gender roles
influence the attainment of the vision for the
Filipino adult in 2020.
i) completion of education at all levels
Negative Environment – Deterioration in the
economy, inadequate social services (health,
education, welfare), increased unemployment
and decreased incomes, gender inequality,
multiple burdens of women, and family
breakdown and dysfunction.
The negative outcomes on children are:
child labor with vulnerability to worst
forms of maltreatment and exploitation
This question is addressed against the
background of two alternative economic and social
child neglect, physical abuse, battering
malnutrition, morbidity, mortality
child delinquency
school dropout, illiteracy
sexual promiscuity, high prevalence of
sexually transmitted infections, premarital
drug abuse and addiction
impaired intelligence
depression, restlessness, low self esteem
Positive Environment – Sustained high
economic growth with corresponding increase
in productive employment and income, and
improved standard of living. The government
support system (education, health and welfare
services) is in place and working. Policies and
legislation are supportive of the family, gender
equality and children. Children have access to
education and social services.
The positive outcomes on children are:
a strong sense of identity
Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
difficulty in handling anger and controlling
poor interpersonal skills
inability to handle conflict
m) passivity and withdrawal
conversant with the influence of the
family on child development and ensure
that the rights of children are exercised
and upheld.
16.2 Programmatic Interventions
Institute family strengthening programs
to prevent adverse outcomes on children
and reduce gender discrimination. Major
factors to consider in the selection of the
most appropriate program are the risks
children are facing and the level of family
functions. Models of intervention can
include parent education, support groups,
behavioral modification, skills training
and therapy.
Adopt crisis intervention models
addressing chronic, multiproblem
families through comprehensive services
(economic, health, nutrition, etc.).
Integrate support for responsible,
committed and involved fatherhood
into current social services. Paternal
contribution should go beyond financial
support. Health, education and social
welfare programs should involve fathers
in unique ways to contribute to their
children’s development.
Maintaining the family as a unit preserves
the bonding and loving relationship with
the parents and siblings and allows
the children to grow and develop within
the culture and environment most
familiar to them. Therefore, the goal is
to maintain children in their own homes
by strengthening families so that they
can meet their children’s developmental
needs and protect them from harm.
Efforts must be made to empower
families to meet the needs of their
children and resolve the problems that
lead to maltreatment.
The government should provide and
promote means to facilitate compatibility
between labor force participation and
parental responsibilities, especially for
16. Recommendations
16.1 Policy
In drafting family policies for the benefit
of children, an ecosystem approach
should be adopted where the family is
viewed within a larger system within
which it interacts (community, institutions,
social sectors, etc.).
Introduce policy and legislation that
encourage parents to enable children to
participate in decisions affecting them.
Family-sensitive policies should be
formulated in the field of housing, work,
health, social security and education.
The family’s various forms and functions
should be taken into account through
support of educational programs
concerning parental roles, parental skills
and child development. The capacity
to monitor the impact of social and
economic decisions and actions on the
well-being of families, on the status of
women within families, and on the ability
of families to meet the basic needs of
children should be developed. (ICPD,
Implement and sustain poverty alleviation
policies, as lack of resources is the
most important factor pushing children
to participate in the child labor market.
Legislation should be promulgated and
enforced to ensure that children are not
exposed to exploitation and abuse.
Legislators, national and local leaders,
and policymakers should be fully
single-parent households with young
children. Such means could include
health insurance and social security,
day-care centers and facilities for
breast-feeding mothers within the work
premises, part-time jobs, paid parental
leaves, paid maternity leaves, flexible
work schedules, and reproductive and
child health services. (ICPD, 1994)
Standardize evaluation of the impact of
changing family structure and shifts in
gender roles on child welfare through
appropriate methodologies and a set of
appropriate indicators.
Adopt a national advocacy agenda for the
promotion of the role of the family and
gender equality in familial roles for child
welfare and development.
Enhance partnerships of government,
NGOs and civil society groups in pursuing
gender equality, male responsibility and
female empowerment within the family
to ensure the physical, mental and
emotional development of the child.
Enhance actions to promote respect for
children’s evolving capacities through
promoting parent education and support
that address:
the right of children to
participate in all decisions
affecting them
the importance of recognizing
and respecting the extent of
children’s capacities
In addition to the above recommendations, the
following are posited:
the right of children not to be
burdened with inappropriate
levels of expectation or
the value to all family members
of enabling children to take
responsibility for those
decisions they are capable of
making, to participate in all
decisions affecting them, and to
have their views taken seriously.
(Chase-Lansdale, 1998)
In 1994, the UN Program for the International Year
of the Family stated that:
The family is the natural framework for the
emotional, financial, and material support essential
to the growth and development of its members,
particularly infants and children… It remains a
vital means of preserving and transmitting cultural
values. (UN, 1994)
These roles of culture preservation, children
socialization, and promotion of gender equality
make the family indispensable to society, as it
transforms helpless and dependent infants into
responsible and independent adults.
Develop innovative ways to provide more
effective assistance to families and the
individuals within them who may be
affected by specific problems, such as
extreme poverty, chronic unemployment,
illness, domestic and sexual violence,
drug or alcohol dependence, incest, child
abuse, neglect or abandonment.
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Changing Family Structure and Shifting Gender Roles:
Impact on Child and Development
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
By Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea
Equality between women and men has been a goal
of the United Nations since its establishment after
the Second World War. The 1945 Preamble to the
UN Charter reaffirms the “faith in fundamental
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the
human person, in the equal rights of men and
women and of nations, large and small.” Over
the last four decades, various UN bodies and
multilateral development organizations have
pursued strategic measures to eliminate various
forms of discrimination against women that are
rooted in age-old cultural traditions as well as in
political and economic structures and processes.
Women’s equal right to opportunities and benefits,
as well as their right to freedom from harm and
abuse like domestic battery, rape, female genital
mutilation, child marriage and female infanticide, is
now fully recognized and enshrined in international
and national legal instruments.
The improvement of women’s status is a key to
the promotion of children’s rights and welfare.
There is robust empirical evidence now from all
over the world that shows how women’s access
to better economic, social and political benefits
and opportunities on one hand, and gender
fairness in share of parental responsibilities, on
the other hand, enhance the physical, emotional
and intellectual development of children.1 UNICEF
Because women are the primary
caregivers for children, women’s wellbeing contributes to the well-being of
their offspring. Healthy, educated and
empowered women are more likely to
have healthy, educated and confident
daughters and sons. Women’s autonomy,
defined as the ability to control their
own lives and to participate in making
decisions that affect them and their
families, is associated with child nutrition.
Other aspects of gender equality, such
as education levels among women, also
correlate with improved outcomes for
children’s survival and development.
By upholding women’s human rights,
societies also protect girl children and
female adolescents. Gender equality
means that boys and girls have equal
access to food, health care, education
and opportunities. Evidence has shown
that women, whose rights are fulfilled,
are more likely to ensure that girls have
access to adequate nutrition, health-care,
education and protection from harm.2
This paper discusses the recent initiatives of
the global community and different sectors of
Philippine society, particularly the government
and civil society groups, to address the gender
biases in various spheres of life and to advance
women’s participation in development. It also
identifies persistent and emerging gender issues
that are closely linked to the changes in the
political and economic conditions both worldwide
and locally; they are issues that, if not decisively
and immediately resolved, will have far- reaching
implications on the future of various sectors of
Philippine society, particularly the children and
young people.
The Philippine National Strategic Framework
for Plan Development for Children, 2000-2025,
or what is more commonly known as Child 21,
provides the blueprint on how to respect, protect
and promote the human rights of Filipino children.
Anchored on the principles of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC), Child
21 envisions that by the year 2025, the Filipino
child will live, learn and grow in an enabling
environment, free from all forms of discrimination
and political as well and economic instabilities in
the country. A major barrier to the promotion of
children’s welfare is the persistence of old and
emerging forms of gender issues.
Country Initiatives to Address
Gender Issues
Despite many economic and political constraints,
the Philippines has pursued various gender
equality programs in accordance with the principles
of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and
following the action plans of the Women’s World
Conferences in Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995).
CEDAW, which was ratified by the Philippine
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
government in l981, and has been signed also
by 181 other countries; it consists of a preamble
and thirty articles that call for the following State
actions: (a) the incorporation of gender equality
principles in the legal system; (b) repeal of all
discriminatory laws and the passage of those that
prohibit discrimination against women; and (c) the
establishment of mechanisms like tribunals and
other public institutions to ensure the protection of
women against discrimination.3
The 1987 amendments to the Philippine
Constitution included provisions that underscore
the country’s recognition of the need to promote
equality between the sexes and to advance the
rights of marginalized groups, especially ethnic
minorities and the poor, toward development and
quality of life.
In its capacity as a policymaking body under the
Office of the Philippine President, the National
Commission on the Role of Filipino Women
(NCRFW)4 was strengthened in the early eighties
to address gender issues through policy as well
as organizational and program development.
Subsequently, it embarked on the process of
integrating the Gender and Development (GAD)
approach into government policies, plans,
programs, and structures. It is translated in
operational language in the 30-year Philippine
Plan for Gender-Responsive Development that was
adopted in l994. The main thrust of this strategic
gender plan is to eventually eliminate all forms
of discrimination against women in Philippine
society and enable them to actively participate in
The NCRFW is presently headed by a policymaking
body composed of 24 representatives from
national line agencies (e.g., Departments of
Health, Social Welfare and Development, and
Interior and Local Government) and nongovernment organizations working in the areas
of labor, media, youth, peasants, elderly and
disabled, business, education, and indigenous
communities. The active participation of women’s
groups and women’s studies practitioners from
the academe in the policymaking and program
development functions of the Commission has
been instrumental in making the bureaucracy
more gender responsive and sensitive to women’s
issues and concerns.
Over the last decade, the Philippine government
has pursued the goal of gender equality by
working in the 12 areas of concern embodied in
the l995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPA). These
include, among others, the promotion of women’s
economic empowerment, protection and fulfillment
of women’s human rights and promotion of
gender-responsive governance.5 Analytical tools
for program planning, implementing, monitoring
and evaluation have been developed and widely
disseminated to all government agencies. These
are supplemented by guidelines for the preparation
of gender plans and utilization of gender budgets.
There has been continuous training as well
of government officials and personnel in the
legislative, executive and judicial branches of
government to ensure the gender responsiveness
of their work.
The efforts of the executive branch of government
to address the gender dimensions of economic,
political and social issues in the country was
supported by different enabling laws and policies.
These include the Women and Nation Building Act
(l994) which establishes the principles of women’s
participation in national development and those
that protect women from rape, domestic abuse,
sex slavery and labor trafficking. The Philippines
is among the few countries in the world which
requires the allocation of at least five percent
of government agency funds to address gender
issues. For women in the labor force, there are
now laws that provide for credit to those engaged
in micro and cottage industries and guard against
gender discrimination in the hiring and termination
of employees. There is also the legislation
establishing the family courts and the women’s and
child desks in all police stations that now expedite
the resolution of cases involving abused women
and children.
The passage of the aforementioned laws has paved
the way for the establishment of various programs
and services to support the needs of women. There
are presently crisis counseling services, temporary
shelters, one-stop-shop medico-legal facilities,
and women’s desks at police stations to attend
Box 1: Laws to Promote Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights
RA 7192,
“Women in Development and Nation Building Act of 1991”
The law provides equal opportunity to women in all military schools and equal rights in entering into
contracts and loan agreements and in joining social and cultural clubs.
RA 7845,
“General Appropriations Act of 1995”
The law provides that a certain percentage of the appropriations for government agencies be
earmarked for gender and development.
RA 7882,
“An Act Providing Assistance to Women Engaging in Micro and Cottage Business Enterprises,
and for Other Purposes, 1995.”
Provides assistance to women engaged or wanting to engage in micro and cottage industries.
RA 7941,
“Party-List System Act of 1995”
The Act provides for the election of party-list representatives though the party-list system , including
the women sector.
RA 8171,
“An Act Providing for the Repatriation of Filipino Women who have lost their Philippine
Citizenship by Marriage to Aliens and of Natural-Born Filipinos, 1995.”
RA 7877,
“Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995”
The law declares sexual harassment in the employment, education or training environment as
RA 8353,
“The Anti-Rape Law of l997”
The law considers rape as a crime against persons and broadens the definition of rape to include
sexual assault; it recognizes marital rape.
RA 8505,
“Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998”
The law mandates the establishment of a rape crisis center in every province with counseling and
free legal and other services for the victim.
RA 8972,
“Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000.”
The law provides for social development and welfare services for solo parents and their children.
RA 9208,
“Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, 2003.”
The law aims to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children and to ensure their
recovery, rehabilitation and integration into the mainstream of society.
RA 9262,
“The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004.”
The law protects women against intimate partner abuse, accepts the “battered women syndrome” as
valid defense in court and provides for temporary and permanent protection orders at the barangay
to the needs of victims of physical, emotional,
and sexual abuse. Lately, both government and
non-government organizations have also stepped
up their efforts to provide especially poor women
with skills to improve their income-earning capacity
(e.g., through micro-finance and micro-enterprise
programs) and medical and health services (e.g.,
primary health care, health and social insurance
schemes, day care centers). In response to
challenges posed by women’s entry into the
labor force, various government agencies have
introduced policies and programs to harmonize
parenting and home care roles with paid work.
Academics in Women’s/Gender Studies, for
their part, have tried to influence their schools
to institute gender studies programs, establish
services to address gender/women’s issues in
education, and produce a new generation of nonsexist literature for use in teaching, policy advocacy,
and research. The Women’s Studies Association
of the Philippines, a national organization of
feminist scholars and women’s studies faculty,
presently coordinates the production of feminist
literature and the provision of technical assistance
in gender training and research for government
and civil society groups. In 2002 the Association
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
had 64 institutional (i.e., colleges and universities)
and more than 300 individual members.6 Its
membership has gradually increased since then
with the participation of more schools from the
regions in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Some Positive Trends and Outcomes of
Actions to Promote Gender Equality and
Women’s Human Rights
The gains from the foregoing initiatives are
encouraging. For instance, there has been an
increase over the years in the number of female
participation in education. Recent data (20062007) from the National Commission on the Role
of Filipino Women7 show that more girls (67.35%)
than boys (58.79%) were able to complete their
primary education. At the secondary level, there
was even a higher completion rate of females
(61.87%) than males (48.39%). There were also
more females who finished their tertiary education
during the academic year 2006-2007.
The country’s ranking in the Gender and
Empowerment Measure (GEM) reflects the positive
outcomes of initiatives aimed at attaining the
goal of gender equality. It ranked 28th out of
116 countries in 1995; 46th out of 64 countries
in 2001, and 35th out of 70 countries in 2004.
In 2007, the Philippines ranked 6th out of 129
countries worldwide.
The gender gap in women’s participation across
various professional fields has narrowed as well in
recent years. Women are better represented now
in professions that used to be male-dominated like
agriculture, engineering and law. Males, on the
other hand, are increasingly entering what used
to be female-dominated professions like health
service and teaching. All these developments
augur well for the future of Filipino children since
they reflect the continuous decline in gender
stereotyping of roles.
Table 1: Changing Status of Filipino Females and Males
Life Expectancy at Birth
Adult Literacy Rate
Net Enrollment Ratio
In Primary School
In Secondary Schools
113.0 (2002)
112.0 (2002)
Source: ASEAN Statistical Pocketbook, 2006. hhtp:/
Persistent and Emerging Gender
Despite the aforementioned gains in efforts to
advance women’s welfare in the country, especially
the implementation of measures against genderbased violence and discrimination, serious
gender issues persist in the country. Patriarchal
beliefs and practices, rigid structures of class
and ethnic inequality, and the many destabilizing
effects of globalization continue to slow down
the aforementioned development efforts. Unless
decisive and sustained measures are taken to
address these issues, the situation of succeeding
generations of Filipinos, of both girls and boys,
will not be as bright as currently hoped for.
The serious challenges at present include the
persistence of gender inequality in decision
making, the prevalence of gender-based violence
across classes and ethno-linguistic groups all over
the country, and the continuing feminization of
overseas labor migration.
Gender Inequality in Decision Making. The
significant improvement in female access to
education and employment has had very little
effect on the extent of their participation in toplevel decision making roles, both in politics and
governance. Filipino women were given suffrage
and the right to run for public office in 1939. In
the last 64 years, however, very few (i.e., an
annual average of 10% of all elective posts) won
in elections and assumed key leadership roles in
the government’s judiciary and executive branches
(Silvestre, 2001, p.1). Data for 2007 show that
females occupy only 21 percent of the 240 seats in
the House of Congress, 29 percent of all positions
in the first and second level courts, and 5 out of
15 seats in the Supreme Court.8 It must be noted,
however, that the middle level positions—the
technical teams operating the bureaucracy—are
composed of highly educated women; they occupy
74 percent of all second-level career service
positions9. There are slightly more females (58%
of the 2.32 million employees) working in the
executive branch of government. They dominate
the technical or second-level positions, while the
men are either in skilled (e.g., clerk, driver) or in
managerial/executive posts.10
Various cultural, political, and economic factors—
both personal and structural in nature —continue
to impede Filipino women’s full and meaningful
participation in politics and governance. Among
these factors are the persistence of sexist beliefs
and practices in both the domestic and public
spheres, a male-centered (“macho”) political
culture, women’s lack of skills and motivation to
assume leadership roles, and inadequate support
to enable them to enter politics and effectively
perform their work. Then there are the real and
imagined differences and tensions within and
among the hundred women’s groups and dozens
of issue-based coalitions. Very often, these
differences get in the way of influencing political
parties and the electorate to advance women’s
political and economic interests.
Beyond the issue of female representation in
decision making is the bigger problem of engaging
Philippine politics to respond to women’s needs
and interests. As past experiences show,
increasing female representation in public
leadership may not directly and immediately help
promote women’s concerns. Women leaders have
to be sensitized and encouraged to put on the
gender lens, so to speak, and in so doing use their
power and influence to support pro-women policies,
mechanisms, and programs.
Domestic Violence and Other Forms of Abuse
Against Women and Children. Inequality in decision
making between women and men may be seen as
both the cause and the effect of the prevalence
of gender-based violence in Philippine society.
Its most common forms are wife battering, rape,
sexual molestation, sex trafficking and economic
neglect.11 Records of the Philippine National Police
show that wife battering was the most prevalent
form of abuse against women from 1999-2006,
accounting for more than half (58.5%) of all
reported cases. This is followed by cases of rape
(14.7%) and acts of lasciviousness (9.4%).12 The
2008 gender assessment report of donor agencies
notes that there were 9,197 reported cases of child
abuse in 2005 and 7,606 cases in 2006. Seventy
percent of the victims were girls and 40 percent
were cases of sexual abuse (rape, incest and acts
of lasciviousness) as well as sexual exploitation
(child prostitution, pedophilia, and pornography). 13
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
It is worth noting that the number of reported cases
of abuse against women and children has declined
over the past eight years. However, the National
Commission on the Role of Filipino Women claims
that such trend does not imply a decrease of cases.
It is more likely the result of under-reporting,
due to ineffective documentation processes and
mechanisms, and the lack of access of victims to
enabling legal and social support and information.
Many victims, especially young females, are afraid
to report the crime because of shame and fear of
retaliation by the offender who may be the father,
brother or spouse. It is most likely, therefore, that
the actual incidence of violence against women
and children is far higher than what the records
The effects of physical and sexual abuse especially
on children are often serious and detrimental to
their physical, intellectual and emotional health.
Studies show that young victims either drop out
from school or are unable to perform their studies
well; they are prone to physical and emotional
ailments and often cannot relate well with friends
and peers. Children who witnessed abuse in
the household are likely to become abusers
themselves later in life.14 Mothers who experience
physical and emotional abuse, on the other hand,
are often unable to take care for their children and
effectively perform their social and economic roles.
They are more likely to suffer from depression,
anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, eating
problems, sexual dysfunction, and reproductive
health problems like unwanted pregnancy,
miscarriage, and even HIV infection.15
Lack of Access to Reproductive
Health Information and Services.
An equally serious problem especially of poor
women in the Philippines is their lack of access
to reproductive health information and services.
Poverty combines with such factors as poor
health-seeking behavior of both women and men
and inadequate government health services to
account for the slow decline of maternal mortality
rates and emergency obstetric cases. They are also
responsible for the slow but steady increase in the
incidence of HIV infection in the country.
Despite the country’s adherence, therefore, to
the Millennium Development Goals to improve
maternal health through reduction of maternal
mortality ratio, to reduce child mortality rate
and to halt the spread of HIV infection, very little
progress has been attained to realize these goals.
The repeated failure of the legislative branch of
government to enact the reproductive health bill
has remained a major barrier to full and regular
access, especially by the poor, to contraceptives
and family planning information and services.
Frequent and many pregnancies and childbirths
have a negative impact not only on women’s health
but also on the chances of survival of infants.
They increase the risks of maternal mortality and
childbirth complications. At present, maternal
deaths in the country make up 14 percent of all
deaths in women aged 15-49. The data show
that 25 percent of maternal deaths were caused
by hypertension (13%), postpartum hemorrhage
(8%), and complications of unsafe abortion
(4%), while the rest is simply classified as “other
complications.”16 Moreover, a study revealed that
although considered illegal in the Philippines, there
were 430,000 induced abortions in 2000.17
The comparative data on population characteristics
of Southeast Asian countries in Table 2 show that
the Philippines continues to lag behind Singapore,
Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Thailand in reducing
mortality risks due to maternal causes and infant
mortality rate. The maternal mortality rate has
declined very slowly (1.4%) since the 1990s,
“when the Philippines was listed among the 42
countries contributing to 90 percent of maternal
deaths worldwide.”18 To achieve the Millennium
Development Goals’ target of 52 deaths per
100,000 live births by 2015, the Joint Gender
Country Assessment report argues that the
Philippines must reduce its maternal mortality rate
by at least seven percent annually.19
The 2003 National Demographic and Health
Survey found that 61 percent of currently married
women do not want additional children and their
desired fertility rate is only 2.5 children, one child
less than the current fertility rate of 3.5 children
average fertility. Moreover, the proportion of
unwanted births increased from 18 percent in
l998 to 20 percent in 2003. The 2004 Pulse
Table 2: Population Characteristics of Southeast Asian Countries
Births per
Risk of
Dying from
% of
Source: ASEAN Statistical Pocketbook, 2006. hhtp:/
Asia Survey likewise showed that 97 percent of all
Filipinos believe that it is important to have the
ability to control one’s fertility or plan one’s family.
Most of the survey respondents (82%) are Roman
Catholics. What these data suggest, therefore,
is that Filipinos generally favor full access to
information and services that can promote
reproductive health.
Other than the problem of maternal and infant
mortality are the equally serious problems of
unwanted and early pregnancies, closely spaced
pregnancies, unsafe termination of pregnancy
and abortion complications. These problems
are coupled by the inability of duty holders to
provide appropriate and adequate sexuality and
reproductive health information to male and female
adolescents. Adolescent girls are particularly
vulnerable to maternal death. Young mothers
especially from poor families often give up their
schooling, thereby, limiting their opportunities for
regular and higher- paid jobs.
The results of the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and
Sexuality Study indicate that a substantial number
of young people, who now account for 18.2 million
or one-fifth of the national population, are sexually
active. They had their sexual debut at the average
age of 18.2 years for males and 18.9 years for
females. The survey noted that early sexual activity
by young people is strongly associated with poor
access to reproductive health information and
The resistance of certain sectors, particularly of
some faith-based organizations, to institutionalize
and vigorously pursue sexuality education in
the country and provide modern family planning
services especially to the poor will not prevent
young people from being sexually active. On the
contrary it will put them at greater risk of having
unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion.
Indeed, all these issues, if not decisively resolved
by the government, will continue to pose serious
threats to women’s health. Such problems will
continue to hamper their capacity to perform
various domestic, economic and social roles and
responsibilities. As previously mentioned, women
who have control over their fertility and decide on
the size of their family are better able to attend
to their own personal well-being as well as to the
needs of their children and other family members.
The slow but steady increase of reported cases
of HIV infection in the Philippines in recent years
should be examined for its gender dimensions.
Although the Philippines is a low-HIV prevalence
country, with less than 0.1 percent of the
population estimated to be infected with the virus,
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
questions about the current manner of collecting
and reporting incidences of infection raise some
doubts about the accuracy of data. The HIV/AIDS
Registry of the Department of Health shows that
from l984 to December 2007, there were 3,061
reported cases of HIV infection. Of this number,
2,279 were asymptomatic or in a stage of chronic
infection and 782 were full-blown AIDS resulting in
307 recorded deaths since 1984. Heterosexual
intercourse accounts for the majority (61%) of
recorded cases, with more infected men (66.4%)
than women (33.54%).
The male role in promoting the reproductive health
of their sexual partner is important to prevent and
control the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, Filipino
men are more frequently engaged in sexually risky
behavior than women20 and resistant to the use
of condoms both for family planning or preventing
sexually transmitted infections. Only 9 percent of
contraceptive use is male-dependent, with condom
use accounting for only 1.6 percent, vasectomy 0.1
percent and withdrawal 7.3 percent.21
Epidemiological and cultural factors put women at
greater risk of being infected. Females, particularly
those of adolescent ages, are biologically more
vulnerable to HIV because of their immature
cervix and thinner mucous membrane, which get
abraded during forced or dry intercourse. Their
reproductive organ has a greater surface area of
mucous membrane where the virus can enter. Then
the semen of HIV positive men contains higher
concentration of the virus than the vaginal fluids of
HIV positive women. Cultural and economic factors
likewise combine and expose women to untreated
STIs, thereby, increasing ten times their risk of
being infected.22
The progression from being HIV positive to
having AIDS is faster for girls compared to males
in many South and Southeast Asian countries
because of the higher incidences of malnutrition
among females that results to the weakening of
the immune system. Gender norms and cultural
practices like greater public tolerance of male
infidelity in marriage or involvement in multiple
sexual partners, regardless of civil status, also
predispose females to STIs, including HIV infection.
Feminization of Overseas Employment. In the early
seventies, women constituted only 12 percent
of the total number of overseas foreign workers.
Their number dramatically increased to 27 percent
in 1987, 65 percent in 2003, and 50 percent in
November 2007.23
The 2006 Survey on Overseas Filipinos conducted
by the National Statistics Office estimated a total
of 1.52 million Overseas Filipino Workers deployed
all over the world during the period April to
September 2006. This number was 14.3 percent
higher than the previous year’s estimate of 1.33
million OFWs.24 The 2006 data (Table 3) from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Agency show that
women were largely deployed as service workers
and in the professional, medical and technical
fields. Majority of those in the service sector were
deployed as domestic workers and did not enjoy
the labor rights and benefits given to those in the
other sectors.
Of the 1.52 million OFWs, 764,000 or 50.4
percent were females; their number increased by
15.8 percent from the 2005 figure of 660,000.
Female overseas workers were generally younger
than their male counterparts. Around 43.5 percent
of them were aged 15 to 29. The males, on the
other hand, were evenly distributed across the
different age groups.
The continuous increase in the number of female
overseas workers is attributed to two factors—the
growth in demand of countries for their skills in
domestic work, health care, child minding and club
entertainment, and the lack of job opportunities in
the country. In recent years, there has also been
a steady increase in number of married female
overseas workers and those with lower educational
status. In short, more wives and mothers now
leave their families behind and in many cases
become the main income earners.
Some studies25 underscore the positive effects
on the national economy and on households of
overseas labor migration. They show how the
earnings of overseas workers have been used
for the education of children, the purchase or
repair of the house, and access to better health
services. They also point to how remittances have
helped keep the local economy stay afloat, so to
speak, and withstand the Asian financial crises
in recent times. Indeed, remittances have played
an important role in stabilizing the country’s
economy. The incomes brought into the country
by overseas migrant workers have helped reduce
and ease the incidence, depth and severity of
poverty by supporting household expenditures,
the local community through social capital and the
creation of multiplier effects,26 and the economy
by preventing the rapid decline in value of the local
However, the economic benefits of overseas
migration must be closely examined in relation to
its effects both on the safety and security of the
overseas workers themselves and of the families,
especially the children, they leave behind. The
2006 survey conducted by the Action for Health
Initiative (ACHIEVE) on the health status and needs
of female overseas domestic workers shows their
vulnerability to many forms of work-related abuses
and health problems. These problems include
the violation of their labor contracts, sexual and
physical abuse, emotional and mental health
issues, and reproductive health risks including HIV
Table 3 : Deployment of Newly Hired OFWs by Skills Category, 2006
Skill Category
Professional, Medical & Technical Workers
Administrative & Managerial Workers
Clerical Workers
Sales Workers
Service Workers
Agricultural Workers
Production Workers
For reclassification
(Source: POEA, 2006. , accessed November 15, 2007).
Table 4: Number and Percentage Distribution of Overseas Filipino Workers
By Age Group and by Sex: 2005
Skill Category
Both Sexes
(Number in thousands)
15 – 24
25 – 29
30 – 34
35 – 39
40 – 44
45 and over
Source: National Statistics Office, 2005
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
infection. The survey respondents also mentioned
the following problems: (a) poor working conditions,
(b) delayed payment of salary (c) deteriorating
relationship with their husbands and children, and
(d) physical abuse by their employers.27
What are the effects on children of the absence
of overseas working parents, especially the
mothers? Social scientists, healthcare providers
and development workers have, of late, called
public attention to the immediate and long-term
detrimental effects on children and family relations
of overseas labor migration. For instance the
survey conducted by Battistela and Conaco in
l997 of 709 children (between ages 9 and 15 and
between Grades 4 and 6) in 39 schools in Metro
Manila and the nearby provinces showed that the
“absence of the mother has the most disruptive
effect in the life of the children.”28 They further
noted that “mother-absent children tend to be more
angry, more confused, more apathetic, more afraid
and to feel more different from other children” who
live with both parents.29 The school grades and
classroom ranks of those children with one or both
parents absent were below those with both parents
present. The mother-absent children, according to
the authors, performed the least well in school.
The groundbreaking research of Pingol on changing
notions of masculinity by men whose wives work
abroad speaks of the very weak bond established
between a long-distance mother and her children,
especially if the separation started when the latter
were still very young.30
The claims about the economic benefits derived
from remittances by families left behind are also
challenged by studies that present contrary data.
Añonuevo,31 for example, points to “husbands’
joblessness and total dependence on their wives’
earnings” as one of the reasons for the low level of
household savings and investment for productive
purposes. Husbands either stop working once
their wives start sending money either because
they have to assume the tasks of household
management and child care or lose interest in
working since the family is already assured of
regular financial support. Then there are anecdotal
reports of lavish spending by families left behind.
The phrase “ubos biyaya,” according to Añonuevo,32
is used by migrants to refer to “lavish spending on
birthdays, weddings, graduations, fiestas and other
occasions”; and it “literally means to pour out all
the blessings until there is nothing left.”33 Other
studies point to the tendency of some families left
behind to “overspend,” or incur unnecessary debts
in anticipation of the money that would be sent to
them. Some males who receive remittances from
their wives or children are known to use the hardearned incomes of the latter on vices like gambling
and alcohol drinking or by having an illicit affair.34
A study of the constructions or notions of longdistance mothering highlights the role of “guilt
feelings” in influencing the remittance behavior
of women. Because traditional and ideal
constructions of femininity are tied to mothering
practices that require day-to-day physical and
emotional care of children, some married female
migrant workers compensate for their absence by
sending money and material goods, sometimes
even more than what their children need, and at
the expense of their personal well-being.35 The
author notes:
Long-distance mothering, in the words
of several women, also “means having
to contend with very strong feelings of
guilt.” Why and when do they feel guilty?
The answers were many and varied.
Frantic calls from home about a child
being rushed to the hospital, meeting an
accident or dropping out of school, were
moments of intense self blaming. Being
away from home during their children’s
“rites of passage” and emergency
situations were also occasions for “guilt
Ferraren37 also highlights other social costs of
migration and the serious challenge of putting
remittance income to more productive purposes.
She claims that overseas labor migration has
caused the breakup of families as well as an
increase in the incidence of martial infidelity,
juvenile delinquency, early marriage and pregnancy
and the like. She adds:
Only a very small proportion of remitted
funds seem to go into income-earning,
job creating investment and property
acquisition. Remittances may not
constitute a rising tide that raises
all boats, but they do have a very
important effect on the standard of
living of the households that receive
them, constituting a significant portion
of household income. They represent
the most important social safety net
of poor families, especially in times of
disasters or difficult times. Far from
being productive, remittances increase
inequality, encourage consumption
of imports, increase domestic prices
for education and health and create
dependency. 38
A recently published study by UNICEF39 validates
the findings of aforementioned studies on the
detrimental effects of OFW parents on children
left behind. It notes that “many children of OFWs
aged 13-16 appear to be worse off than children
of non-OFWs of the same age. Some receive less
than the average money inputs, but all receive less
than the average adult attention.”40 And while
the increase in access to money of the children
of OFWs also increases the degree to which they
feel “satisfied,” they tend to value adult attention
more than money. Another significant finding of
the study is the vulnerability of children of OFWs to
psychosocial problems caused by families splitting
The achievement of the Child 21 goals and
targets will depend on the extent to which the
Philippine government, in collaboration with various
stakeholders, will be able to resolve the gender
issues that impede the capacity of females to ably
perform their roles and responsibilities to their
family and community. While enabling laws and
programs are now in place, there is a need to fully
enforce and implement them. Given the multiple
roles that women now assume both in the private
and public spheres, it is important to continue the
current efforts of advocating for the equal sharing
of power, duties and responsibilities over child
care and the management as well as utilization of
family/household resources and opportunities.
The prevalence of domestic violence, sex trafficking
and sexual abuse especially of young females
and even males is very serious. There is a need
for concerted efforts to eliminate the problems
in order to ensure the emotional and physical
well-being of Filipino children. But the elimination
of gender discrimination must go hand in hand
with measures to reduce the incidence of poverty
in the country. This can be achieved through the
vigorous promotion of viable income-generating
opportunities especially in the rural areas. These
opportunities should be geared to women who,
because of lack of work in the country, have to
seek employment abroad as domestic helpers and
Inasmuch as the gender issues mentioned here
disproportionately affect poor women, current
policies and programs to eliminate poverty
must adopt gender-responsive and rights-based
strategies. The United Nations Development
Fund for Women strongly advocates for the
integration of gender equality targets in all of the
eight Millennium Development Goals. It proposes
that in order for countries like the Philippines to
halve between 1990 to 2015 the number of poor
people, there is a need to adopt the following
measures: (a) make macroeconomic policies
pro-poor, gender-responsive and rights-based, (b)
improve the gender-responsiveness of poverty
statistics, (c) invest in timesaving infrastructure,
especially in rural areas and poor communities,
(d) increase women’s access to paid employment,
(e) increase women’s access to land, credit and
other resources, and (f) enhance women’s capacity
to participate in decision-making, governance
and development work.41 To reach the MDG goals
of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters
and child mortality by two-thirds in 2015, UNIFEM
proposes the greater involvement of men and
communities in health education on pregnancy
and childbirth and improved access of women to
transportation, infrastructure and communications.
It also calls on government to provide free and
easily accessible reproductive health services
especially to poor women.
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
Upwards of 70 percent across the broad
regions and socioeconomic classes, according
to Pulse Asia and SWS surveys over the past
several years, as will be elaborated below.
A foremost exponent of the contrarian view
was the late Julian Simon whose book
(1977) focuses on the positive externalities
of population growth in a very long-run
Some economists, however, argue that such
negative effect should not be a concern, as
parents may be fully aware of the private and
social costs of children and yet would rather
have more children than consume more
goods or services – the notion of consumer
sovereignty. Hence, even though it hampers
economic growth, rapid population growth may
be socially optimal (Lee, 1991).
It is interesting that the pace of the country ’s
population growth deceleration corresponded
to the relative waxing and waning of its
population program (Orbeta and Pernia, 1999;
Herrin and Pernia, 2003).
The likelihood of a population undercount
during the 2007 Census should be noted,
based on reports that enumerators had
difficulty accessing depressed areas owing
to the fear of residents that the census was
being undertaken as part of a government
plan to relocate squatters to give way to
infrastructure projects. Hence, a current
population growth rate of 2.1 percent rather
than 2.04 percent is probably more realistic.
TFR is the number of births a woman would
have on average at the end of her reproductive
life if she were subject to the prevailing
age-specific fertility rates throughout her
reproductive years (15-49).
These are official poverty-incidence numbers
from respective government statistical
agencies, as reported in ADB (2007). Poverty
incidence is defined as the proportion of the
population below a government-set poverty
line. Household poverty incidence – which has
recently been the preferred indicator of the
Philippine government – is, by definition, lower.
It should be noted that the above estimates
are pure demographic effects and, hence,
conservative as they do not fully capture
the population-economy-poverty-reduction
interaction effects.
“In the 2003 NDHS, women were asked
a series of questions about each child
born in the preceding five years and any
current pregnancy, to determine whether
the pregnancy was wanted then, wanted
at a later time, or unwanted…The danger
of rationalization is present; an unwanted
conception may well have become a cherished
child… Respondents are willing to report
unwanted conceptions, although some
postpartum rationalization probably occurs.
The result is probably an underestimate of
unwanted fertility.” (NSO, 2004, p. 100).
By contrast, overall CPR in Thailand and
Indonesia has been around 70 percent.
Note that the “undecideds” range from 16
percent to 28 percent.
Note that birth spacing is about the only
measure that President Arroyo favors;
however, without an effective family planning
program, even that is meaningless lip service.
Reinforcing the positive results of earlier
surveys on population and family planning ,
in general, as shown, for example, in Table 10
above, the most recent (September-October
2008) SWS survey results show very strong
support among Catholics and non-Catholics
alike for the RH bill, including the specific
provision on sexuality education in public and
private upper-primary and high schools.
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE). (2006).
Life and Health on the Move: The Sexual and
Reproductive Health Satus and Needs of Filipino
Women Migrant Domestic Workers. Quezon City:
Dizon-Añonuveo, M. (2002). Migrant Returnees,
Return Migration and Reintegration, in Coming
Home: Women, Migration and Reintegration.
Balikbayani Foundation, Inc. and ATIKHA Overseas
Workers and Communities Initiative, Inc.
Añonuevo, A. T. (2002). Reintegration, An Elusive
Dream? In Coming Home: Women, Migration
and Reintegration. Balikbayani Foundation, Inc.
and ATIKHA Overseas Workers and Communities
Initiative, Inc.
Ferraren, Eva Oler, 2007. Exporting domestic
labour – the Philippines ’ participation in
Globalization? http://www.internationalviewpoint.
Asian Development Bank, Canadian International
Development Agency, European Commission,
United Nation’s Children’s Fund, United Nations
Development Fund for Women and United
Nations Population Fund. (2008). Paradox and
Promise in the Philippines: A Joint Country Gender
Assessment. Metro Manila.
Asis, M.M.B. (2006). The Philippines’ Culture of
Migration, Scalabrini Migration Center-Philippines.
Paper presented at the Migration Policy Institute.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
(2006). Statistical Pocketbook. hhtp:/www.asean.
Batistella, G. & Conaco, C. M. (l998). The Impact
of Labour Migration on the Children Left Behind:
A Study of Elementary School Children in the
Philippines. SOJOURN No. 13, Vol. 2, pp. 220-41.
Burgess, R. & Haksar, V. (2005). Migration
and Foreign Remittances in the Philippines. An
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Working Paper,
Asia and Pacific Department, June 2005.
Clark, S. Jr., Flavier, J, Ramos-Jimenez, P, Lee, R. B.,
Solomon, H. (2005). Assessing the Status of Male
Involvement in Family Planning in the Philippines.
Manila: USAID.
de Guzman, M. O. (1999). Testimonial Narratives:
Memory and Self-Representation in Letters. In
J. Illo (Ed.), Women and Gender Relations in
the Philippines: Selected Readings in Women’s
Studies. Vol. 1. Quezon City: Women’s Studies
Association of the Philippines.
National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women. (2000). Executive Summary of the
State of the Filipino Women Report 2001-2003.
National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women. (2001). Framework Plan for Women,
2001-2004. Manila.
National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women & U.P. Center for Women’s Studies. (2003).
Proceedings of the National Summit of Women
Local Chief Executives and Legislators. Quezon
National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women. NCRFW Factsheet. Accessed March 7,
2008 at
National Statistics Office. (2003). QuickStat.
Accessed September 1, 2008 at
National Statistics Office. QuickStat. Accessed
October 19, 2008 at
National Statistics and Coordination Board. (2004).
National Statistics Office. (2006). Survey on
Overseas Filipinos. Metro Manila.
Pascual, S. B., Tulipat, P. D., & Ujano, S. (2005).
Beijing+10: Celebrating Gains, Facing New
Challenges: A Report of the Philippine NGO,
Women’s Studies Association of the Philippines,
United Nations Population Fund, and Social Watch.
Quezon City, Philippines.
Pingol, A. T. (2001). Remaking Masculinities,
Identity, Power and Gender Dynamics in Families
with Migrant Wives and Househusbands. Quezon
City: University Center for Women’s Studies,
University of the Philippines.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA). (2006). OFW Global Presence: A
compendium of overseas employment statistics.
Population Reference Bureau. (2008). World
Population Data Sheet: 2008 .Washington D.C.
Sobritchea, C. (1995). A Review of Conceptual
Frameworks and Studies on Family Violence. In
Breaking the Silence: The Realities of Family
Violence in the Philippines and Recommendations
for Change. Metro Manila: United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UP Center for
Women” Studies Foundation.
Sobritchea, C. (2003, November 12-13). The
Second Wave of the Women’s Movement in the
Philippines and the Politics of Critical Collaboration
with the State. Paper presented at the Workshop
on Civil Society in Southeast Asia, Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.
Sobritchea, C. (2006). Introduction: Advancing
Women’s Economic Rights through CEDAW. In
A Gender Review of Selected Economic Laws.
Quezon City: University of the Philippines Center for
Women’s Studies.
Sobritchea, C. (2007). Constructions of Mothering:
The Experience of Female Filipino Overseas
Workers. In T. Devasahayam & B. S. S. Yeoh (eds.),
Working and Mothering in Asia: Images, Ideologies
and Identities. (pp. 173-194). Singapore: National
University of Singapore Press.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (2007).
The State of the World’s Children, 2007: Women
and Children, The Double Dividend of Gender
Equality. New York.
United Nations Development Fund for Women.
(2008). Making the MDGs Work for All: GenderResponsive Rights-Based Approaches to MDGs.
New York.
United Nations Development Program. (2001).
Human Development Index Report. New York.
United Nations Development Program. (2003).
Human Development Index Report. New York.
Promoting Gender Equality:
Opportunities and Challenges
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and
Sustainable Development
By Dr. Carmen A. Abubakar
Introduction: Cultural Diversity
That cultural diversity is a fact of life is not
debatable. Today, a homogenous population would
be difficult to find. One of the strongest forces that
contribute to cultural diversity is the increasing rate
of international migration which has doubled since
the 1970s. According to the 2000 International
Migration Report, every 10 persons in the
developed regions are migrants (UNESCO Cultural
Sector, 2008). While diversity due to migration
occurs in developed countries, different ethnicities
amongst native populations cause diversity in
many parts of the world. Whether cultural diversity
is due to migration or different ethnicities among
native populations, these situations have produced
social tensions and at times open conflict.
Concern over cultural diversity produced, in
November 2, 2001, the UNESCO Universal
Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by the
31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO
in Paris. In his address, Koichiro Matsuura,
UNESCO’s Director General, stated that it “raises
cultural diversity to the level of the common
heritage of humanity” and “aims both to preserve
cultural diversity as a living and thus renewable
treasure that must not be perceived as being
unchanging but as a process of guaranteeing the
survival of society.”
The Declaration has 12 Articles distributed under
the following headings: Identity, Diversity and
Pluralism, Cultural Diversity and Human Rights,
Cultural Diversity and Creativity, Cultural Diversity
and International Solidarity. These principles
highlight the importance of cultural diversity
as a key to sustainable human development,
so its preservation, protection, and promotion
depend on enlightened public policies that uphold
fundamental freedoms and arrived at after due
consultation or dialogue with all concerned parties.
Cultural diversity takes different forms in different
settings. It may be associated with racial, ethnic or
religious differences. In the Philippines, ethnic and
religious diversities are true amongst the majorities
and the minorities. The form of diversity focused
in this Report, however, has to do with cultural
minorities now known as Indigenous Peoples or
IPs. These groups have resisted colonialism and
have retained their identities and culture in spite
of the homogenizing force of national policies and
majority cultures.
Indeed, indigenous peoples’ experience with
colonialism has largely defined the nature and
character of cultural diversity in the Philippines.
It created a cultural divide between majority and
minority, resulting in the lack of development or
underdevelopment of the latter. The UN Declaration
of Cultural Diversity cited earlier is supposed to
open more options for all people and lead to a
more holistic development, to wit:
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Cultural
Diversity declares:
Cultural diversity widens the range of
options open to everyone; it is one of
the roots of development, understood
not simply in terms of economic growth,
but also as a means to achieve a more
satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral
and spiritual existence.
The challenge of this new perception on cultural
diversity as “the common heritage of humanity”
is slowly gaining ground, as more and more
organizations and institutions focus their attention
on the plight of groups who have much to gain in
the light of these new perceptions. Therefore, it is
important to know who these people are and their
locations in this country.
Who are the Indigenous Peoples?
Magnarella (2005) claims that there is no
international definition of “peoples” but that the
term generally describes a population sharing
certain characteristics such as: a common
historical tradition; self-identity as a distinctive
cultural or ethnic group; cultural homogeneity;
a shared language; a shared religion; and a
traditional territorial connection (p.126).
In his Study of the Problem of Discrimination
Against Indigenous Population, Jose Martinez Cobo,
the UN Special Rapporteur of the Subcommission
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities, used a working definition that goes this
way (in Magnarella, 2005):
Indigenous communities, peoples
and nations are those which, having a
historical continuity with pre-invasion
and pre-colonial societies that developed
on their territories, consider themselves
distinct from other sectors of the societies
now prevailing in those territories, or
parts of them. They form at present
non-dominant sectors of society and
are determined to preserve, develop
and transmit to future generations their
ancestral territories, their ethnic identity,
as the basis of their continued existence
as peoples, in accordance with their own
cultural patterns, social institutions and
legal systems. (1986: para.379/ p. 126.)
The UN Working Group on Indigenous Population
defines indigenous peoples as (ibid):
The disadvantaged descendants of
those peoples that inhabited a territory
prior to the formation of a state. The
term indigenous may be defined as a
characteristic relating the identity of a
particular people to a particular area and
distinguishing them culturally from other
people or peoples. When, for example,
immigrants from Europe settled in the
Americas and Oceania, or when new
states were created after colonialism
was abolished in Africa and Asia, certain
peoples became marginalized and
discriminated against, because their
language, their religion, their culture and
their whole way of life were different and
perceived by the dominant society as
being inferior. Insisting on their right to
self-determination is indigenous peoples’
way of overcoming these obstacles.
(1996: para .35/ p 126)
The main difference between indigenous peoples
and minorities is that the latter does not constitute
a “first people,” referring to the Indigenous Peoples’
continued territorial occupation and attachment
to their lands before conquest and occupation by
others (ibid, p.127).
In the Philippines, the term Indigenous Peoples,
often shortened to IPs, is new. After independence,
the term used was National Cultural Minorities,
then National Minorities, then Cultural
Communities in 1973. Further changes appeared
in the 1987 Constitution which introduced not
only the term Indigenous Cultural Communities
but also the term Bangsamoros referring to the
Muslims in the country. The distinction between the
Indigenous Communities (referring to tribal groups)
and the Bangsamoros (Muslims) is stressed by the
usage of these terms. For this reason, a similar
distinction will be adopted in this paper.
However, changes in terminologies did not seem
to have affected the status of the indigenous
peoples created during the colonial period. Atty.
Evelyn S. Dunuan, speaking at the Asian Regional
Consultation on Poverty Reduction in 2001,
noted that the term Indigenous Peoples has been
“made synonymous to oppression, exploitation,
discrimination and poverty. They, whose ancestors
were once the proud rulers of this land, are now
the scum of the earth, the so-called poorest of the
poor in the Philippines.” This observation points to
the neglect, often described as “benign,” that has
produced this condition.
How did this happen?
A short review of events is useful in understanding
the transformation of Indigenous Peoples from
being free to being oppressed. During the Spanish
regime, Indigenous Peoples were known as
pagano (pagans) or infieles in contrast to those
who became Christians. The paganos occupied a
much lower niche in the social order which can be
remedied by becoming Christians and joining the
favored status as loyal subjects of the King. The
Americans further emphasized the differences of
identities and status by tagging the population as
either “civilized” (Christian) or “wild”(non-Christian).
Again the marker for civilization is Christianity.
Included in the category of “wild” were the
Islamized natives in Mindanao and Sulu whom
the Spaniards identified as Moros.. The word Moro
was a Spanish derivative of the word Moriscos,
descendants of the Moors who ruled Spain for
eight centuries. The word, therefore, carried a
wealth of meaning that neatly boxed the Moros as
the “enemy.”
The inherent bias obvious in these distinctions
was not lost to persons so identified and treated
as such. These categories with their underlying
negative connotations entered into policies, laws
and governmental structures, like the creation
of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes and the
enactment of the Special Government Act for the
provinces occupied by non-Christian groups such as
Benguet, Nueva Viscaya, Lepanto-Bontoc, Palawan
and Mindoro. In 1903, the Moro Province was
created with special features like Tribal Wards and
Tribal Courts. The latter was intended to apply the
general laws of the colonial government because
“the customary laws of the Moros and NonChristians were either non-existent or so vague and
whimsical as to be impracticable of administration
in courts of justice” (Rodil, 2004, pp. 25-26). This
highly superior tone usually pervades many of the
dealings between the colonial regimes and the
Indigenous Peoples and soon became embedded
in the consciousness of the general populace long
after the colonials had gone.
The colonial dictates were particularly disastrous
to the Indigenous Peoples and Moros as regards
land ownership, its distribution as well as the
disposition of its natural resources. The Spaniards
introduced the Regallian Doctrine which gives the
Crown or the Spanish king ownership of the land
and the authority to dispose of it. The Americans
then institutionalized the Torrens System of land
titling which required the registration and titling
of privately owned lands. The Indigenous Peoples’
concept of communal land ownership and free
access to its natural resource and the Moros’
concept of land as inalienable and ancestral
legacies were obviously in conflict with these
foreign systems.
The series of land laws that followed from the
American regime to the Commonwealth period
hastened the dispossession of land from the
Moros and Indigenous Peoples in three ways:
1) the requirement of registration was to be
done in writing (in the English language), a skill
which Moros and IPs had not acquired; 2) the
non-recognition of communal lands meant there
was nothing to register; 3) homesteaders were
allowed to acquire 16 then 24 hectares, while
non-Christians were allowed only 10 hectares, later
reduced by subsequent lawss, to only four hectares
( Rodil, pp.30-33).
Besides land laws and their negative effects on IP
population including the Moros, the resettlement
policy was equally devastating. Indigenous
Peoples residing in places opened for resettlement
programs like Cagayan Valley, Isabela, Nueva
Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Mindoro, Palawan, Negros,
and Mindanao suffered further reduction of
territory and diminution of status from majority to
minority (Rodil, pp. 46-47) .
Some of the most significant programs identified by
Rodil (pp. 46-47) are the following:
Establishing of agricultural colonies via
Act No. 2254, passed by the Philippine
Commission in 1913;
Act 2280 passed in 1919 by Manila;
The Quirino-Recto Act known as Act No.
4197, 1935;
The National Land Settlement
Administration (NLSA) created by
Commonwealth Act No. 441 in 1939;
The Rice and Corn Production
Administration (RCPA) of 1949;
The Land Settlement Development
Administration (LASEDECO);
The National Resettlement and
Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) of
Land Authority, 1963; and,
Economic Development Corporation
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
Not only settlers but corporations, too, were
making the trek to resettlement areas, as seen in
the increasing logging and timber concessions.
By 1979, there were 164 logging concessionaires
mostly in Mindanao with a total area of 5,029,340
hectares. Leases of 25 years for pasturelands
totaled 179,011.6 hectares by 1973 (Rodil,
p. 49). This drove many indigenous groups to
higher grounds and to further isolation and
The dramatic shift in population as a result of
these programs can be demonstrated in the case
of Cotabato. In 1918, Muslims were majority in 20
towns, the Lumad in 5, and none for the migrants.
By 1970, Muslims had 10 towns; Lumad none
although 31 towns showed Lumad population at
less than 10 per cent; the migrants now dominated
38 towns (Rodil, p. 48). This phenomenon was
replicated in other areas in Mindanao.
Moros managed to retain some of their territories
intact due to the resistance mounted by the
sultanates against colonial invasions. But this
did not stop their eventual minoritization and
marginalization, as Moro provinces were divided
into new political units dominated by settlers. In
the end, Moros managed to hold on to only five
provinces in which they were still the majority
Thus in the space of 60 years, the indigenous
population was effectively reduced, marginalized,
minoritized and often isolated and discriminated.In
the words of Rudy Rodil (p. 16), “by an ironic twist
of history, it was the unconquered and uncolonized
who were later to become the cultural communities
of the 20th century.”
The Indigenous Peoples of the
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
(NCIP) identifies 110 indigenous groups in the
Philippines distributed as follows: 48 or 43.64
percent in Luzon, 25 or 22.73 percent in Visayas,
37 or 33.63 percent in Mindanao (NCIP Info Kit).
A delineation of the various groups made by the
Cordillera Peoples Alliance and posted at IWGIA
website ( shows the following
Cordillera (Northern Luzon)
The various indigenous groups of the
Cordillera (Northern Luzon) are collectively
known as Igorot. The Tingguians, Isnego,
Kalinga, Ifugao, Ibaloi, and Kankaney are
distributed along the Cordillera mountain
Other groups like the Itawes (Itawit), Malaweg,
Yogad, Gaddang/Gad’ang, Kalinga-Isabella,
Isinay and Bugkalot (Ilongot) are found in the
mountains, foothills and lowlands of Cagayan,
Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces.
North, Central and Southern Luzon
The Negrito groups, of which 25 major
groups have been identified, dominate the
Tagalog and Bikol provinces. Reports of
Negrito migration show one mainstream
branching into three settlements. One group
(Alta, Arta, Agta) settled along the northern
part of Luzon moving along the Sierra Madre
and Pacific coast down to the Bondoc and
Bikol mountains. Another (Aete, Atta, Ita, Ati,
Dumagat, Sinauna) settled in the western
and southern regions in the Zambales-Bataan
mountains and southern Tagalong foothills.
Others (Batak) settled in Palawan, Panay,
Negros and northern Mindanao (Mamanwa).
Mindoro is the home of the Mangyan which
are grouped into the Northern (Tadyawan,
Alangan and Iraya) and Southern Mangyan
(Buhid, Taobuid and Hanunuo). The Ratagnon,
on the southern tip of the island, are related to
the Cuyonin of Palawan.
Indigenous groups in Palawan are the
Agutaynen, Tagbanwa (Kalamianen), Palaw’an,
Molbog, Batak, and Tau’t Batu. Some groups
like the Cuyonin, Agutaynen, Tagbanwa,
and Kagayanen are considered to be fully
utilized such territories, sharing bonds of
language, customs, traditions and other
distinctive cultural traits, or who have
through resistance to political, social
and cultural inroads of colonization,
non-indigenous religions and cultures,
became historically differentiated from
the majority of Filipinos.
The Lumads are the non-Islamized groups in
Mindanao and are clustered into the following:
a) Manobo, b) Bagobo-B’laan-Tiboli-Tirutay,
c) Mandaya-Mansaka, d) Subanen, and e)
Lumad, a Cebuano Bisayan word meaning
indigenous, is the collective name of 18
ethnolinguistic groups. This name was
adopted in a congress held in June 1986.
The choice of a Cebuano word was based on
practicality since Cebuano was spoken by
most of the groups (Rodil, 2004).
Bangsamoros or Moros
Bangsamoros refer to the 13 ethnolinguistic
groups which had been Islamized. At present,
majority belong to the ARMM (Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao) which constitutes
the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao,
Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan, and the city
of Marawi City. However, there are several
barangays and municipalities of majority
Moros outside ARMM.
ICCs/ IPs shall likewise include peoples
who are regarded as indigenous on
account of their descent from the
populations which inhabited the
country, at the time of conquest or
colonization, or at the time of inroads of
non-indigenous religions and cultures,
or the establishment of present state
boundaries, who retain some or all of
their own social, economic, cultural and
political institutions, but who may have
been resettled outside their ancestral
Clearly, these definitions include the
Bangsamoros in the indigenous frame.
The word Bangsamoro is a combination of
Bangsa (nation) and Moro (from the Moors
of Spain), a pejorative word used by the
Spaniards but reclaimed by the MNLF to refer
to the people who remained unconquered.
There appears to be a certain exclusivity in the
claim to indigeniety since Bangsamoros are not
usually regarded by the IPs as belonging to the
Indigenous Peoples category. However, RA 8371
(the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or IPRA) defines
Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous
Peoples as:
A group of people or homogenous
societies identified by self-ascription
and ascription by others who have
continuously lived as organized
community on communally bounded
and defined territory, and who have,
under claims of ownership since time
immemorial, occupied, possessed and
The indigenous population is estimated to range
from 6.5 million (National Commission on Culture
and the Arts), 7.5 million (KAMP), to more than 12
million (NCIP), or between 10 and 15 percent of the
total national population distributed as follows: 60
percent in Mindanao (Lumad), 30 percent in the
Cordillera-Northern Luzon (Igorot), and 10 percent
in the rest of Luzon and the Visayas. Data sources
and varied group identities may explain different
estimates (
In 2000, the National Statistics Office (NSO)
estimated the Bangsamoros to be 3.8 million
and constitute 5 percent of the total population.
However, the Office of Muslim Affairs(OMA) puts
the count at 8.3 million and 10 percent of the
population. OMA has proposed a joint survey with
the NSO to avoid the accusation of “statistical
genocide,” a claim that was once put forward
by the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF
(Philippine Human Development Report, 2005).
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
Reponses to Indigenous Peoples’
Article XVI Sec 12 (General Provisions).
Congress can create a consultative body to
advise the President on policies affecting ICCs
with members coming from ICCs.
A. National Laws: the 1987 Constitution
The struggle of the Bangsamoros and IPs for
their rights brought about certain legal moves
culminating in the institutionalization of these
rights in the 1987 Constitution. This has
significantly changed the map as far as the
promotion of these rights are concerned (www.
For the Moros, the most significant provision was
the creation of Regional Autonomy.
Several Articles focused on these rights are as
PD 1618 was supplanted by Republic Act
6734, the enabling act for regional autonomy.
The Final Peace Agreement of 1996 signed
between the Government of the Republic of
the Philippins (GRP) and the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) resulted in the
amendment of RA 6734 by RA 9050 in 2001.
Article II, Sec. 22 (Declaration of Principles
and State Policies). The State recognizes
and promotes the rights of ICCs (indigenous
cultural communities) “within the framework
of national unity and development.”
Article X (Autonomous Regions). Autonomy is
granted to “provinces, cities, municipalities,
and geographical areas sharing common and
distinctive historical and cultural heritage,
economic and social structures, and other
relevant characteristics.” This provision
explicitly applies to the Bangsamoro in Muslim
Mindanao and the Cordillera people of the
Mountain Province.
Article XII. Sec. 5 (National Economy and
Patrimony ). The State commits to protect
the rights of the ICCs to their ancestral land,
“subject to the provision of this Constitution
and national development policies and
programs.” Congress was given the task
of defining “the applicability of customary
law governing property rights or relations
in determining the ownership and extent of
ancestral domain.”
Article XIV Sec. 17 (Education, Science and
Technology, Arts, Culture and Sport. The
state recognizes and guarantees the rights of
ICCs “to preserve and develop their cultures,
traditions, and institutions.”
ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim
The creation of an autonomous region in
Mindanao was first made by Pres. Marcos
through Presidential Decree 1618 in 1979,
as a result of the Tripoli Agreement signed in
CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region)
Although regional autonomy included the
Cordillera, voters there rejected the two
Organic Acts for an autonomous region in
plebiscites conducted in 1989 and 1998.
The President then, through Executive Order
220, created a special structure known as the
Cordillera Administrative Region. Observers
note that this is “merely a faint ghost of the
original vision of regional autonomy” (www.
RA 8371 known as the Indigenous Peoples
Rights Act (IPRA) was passed by Congress in
1997. Its provisions are being implemented
by the National Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (NCIP) particularly in identifying,
and titling ancestral domain as well as other
provisions such as the mechanism for free,
prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the
convening of a Consultative Body to advise the
NCIP on problems, aspirations and interests of
the indigenous peoples. The Consultative Body
was to be organized at the provincial, regional
and national levels with representations from
traditional leaders, elders women and youth.
B. International Laws
The United Nations has taken a strong interest
and concern in the struggle of Indigenous
Peoples. Apart from the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, other instruments, mechanisms,
protocols have been passed and signed. The
latest is the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the
General Assembly at the 107th Plenary Meeting
on 13 September 2007. UNDRIP declares the
recognition, protection and promotion of the rights
of indigenous peoples in all aspects of life.
Victoria Tauli-Corpus, chair, UN Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues, sums up the UNDRIP as
follows (2008):
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples sets the international minimum standards
for the protection, respect and fulfillment of
the rights of indigenous peoples. While it is a
declaration and is therefore not legally binding as
conventions are, many of the articles are actually
binding as these are lifted from the Convention
on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The
Declaration does not set new international
standards on human rights. It merely interprets
International Human Rights Law as it applies to the
specific situation of indigenous peoples as distinct
This historical landmark has been made possible
through the active participation and work of the
international indigenous people’s movement
that started on the local level but became more
organized in the 1960s and more delegations were
sent to the UN.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an
important document for the protection of one of
the most vulnerable sectors of society. Among the
IPs and Moros, children suffer the consequences of
the lives of their elders.
Issues Connected to Indigenous
In spite of the positive developments in the realm
of national and international laws which protect
and promote the welfare of indigenous peoples,
the assertion of these rights is still fraught with
problems. Several issues connected to IPs and
Moros are instructive in their quest for sustainable
development which directly or indirectly impacts on
the welfare of the children.
A. Ancestral Domain
Ancestral domain has been of great concern to
Moros and Indigenous Peoples, and constitutes
the core of their problem of minoritization,
marginalization, and cultural alienation.
For the Moros, reclaiming these territories
has been at the core of the struggle for selfdetermination, together with a system of
governance suitable to their cultural traditions and
values. The series of peace negotiations with the
MNLF that produced autonomy did not bring peace,
only more problems, because some unresolved
internal and external problems continue to affect
the efficiency of ARMM..
Today, peace continues to remain elusive although
peace negotiations between the GRP and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been ongoing
since 2000, albeit interrupted by two outbreaks
of conflict. This was about to be concluded by the
signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on
Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) last August 5, 2008
prior to the signing of a later comprehensive
agreement. The controversy that ensued on
grounds of constitutionality led to a Supreme
Court Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), the
subsequent dropping of the MOA-AD, the dismissal
of the negotiating panel and full stop to the peace
As announced by the President, further
negotiations will be conducted with a shift in
paradigm that calls for dialogue with communities.
How this will be undertaken is still to be worked
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
out. Another of government’s guiding principle for a
new round of talks is known as DDR (disarmament,
demobilization and rehabilitation). Earlier this
year, the President issued EO No. 777 creating
a National Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) to
amend RA 9054, particularly the provision on
territory to be used as a term of reference for the
talks with the MILF. Also to be reviewed is the
provision on the sharing of mineral resources
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 30, 2009). On the
other hand, the order to end both the Moro and
Communist insurgencies by 2010 still stands,
an order that has spurred the National Defense
Secretary to ask for an additional 10 billion pesos
on top of the 56.5 billion pesos already requested
in the 2009 budget (, Sept. 26,
For the IPs, claiming their ancestral domain in
terms of its delineation and titling has been
under the administration of the NCIP. The process
has been slowed down by the lack of budgetary
allotment and the time needed (only six months)
for this purpose, not to mention the additional
problems of boundary conflicts and the increasing
risks of NCIP personnel. Two of them have been
killed by hired guns in Regions 12 and 13, to
prevent certain claims from being processed
(Interview with Director Quilaman, Sept. 24, 2008,
at the NCIP office, Quezon City). NCIP has issued
a total of 150 certificates of ancestral Land Titles
and 56 Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles
(CADTs) comprising 1,114,857.17 hectares as
of January 4, 2007 (Asian Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples Network, 2007).
B. Self-Determination
Self-determination is the right of peoples to: 1)
freely determine their political status; and, 2)
freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
development (UN General Assembly.Resolution
1514, Dec. 14, 1960).
For the Lumad of Mindanao, self-determination is
seen as recognition of ancestral lands and selfgovernment in accordance with their customary
laws (although its concrete form has not been
spelled out) within the territorial integrity of the
Republic of the Philippines ( Rodil, p. 94).
The Bangsamoro initially conceptualized self-
determination in terms of an independent
Bangsamoro Republik constituting the territorial
boundary of the sultanates and the four pat-apangampong (principalities) of Lanao. However
since the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement
between the GRP and the MNLF, independence
has been replaced by genuine autonomy and the
territorial boundary was determined by a plebiscite.
For both groups self-determination means cultural
integrity, self-governance, and control over land and
natural resources. But for Moros, it means identity
as well as sovereignty.
C. Peace and Security
The current armed conflict in Mindanao as a result
of the aborted signing of the Memorandum of
Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) has
led to the dislocation of over 500,000 civilians
in over three months of fighting between rogue
forces of the MILF and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines. Evacuation centers are running
out of food supplies, water, toilet facilities and
rooms. There are inadequate medical and
psychosocial services (Philippine Human Rights
Reporting Project, Sept. 23, 2008). OXFAM has
confirmed these observations in a statement
made by its Country Director, Lan Mercado, who
said, “The humanitarian needs in Mindanao are
real.” This contradicts the pronouncement of
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who said
that the situation was “not that bad” and that “the
government has enough resources to deal with the
problem.” Other agencies operating in the area like
the United Nations World Food Program (UN-WFP)
has issued an appeal for funds in expectation of an
escalation of conflict after Ramadan (INQUIRER.
net, Sept. 26, 2008).
The cost of war has always fallen hard on civilians
who are often callously dismissed as “collateral
damage.” Children are inevitably included as
victims and counted among the “casualties of war.”
In the present conflict, six children were reportedly
killed when a boat they were traveling in was
attacked. In an interview, the grandfather of the
children claimed, “I saw this plane dive … and
fire two rockets.” The military says that the pilot
had been fired at by MILF fighters and was simply
reacting (Special Report: “I saw my grandkids die
in an air strike,”, Sept. 24, 2008).
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Leila
de Lima has said that initial CHR investigations
showed that the attack was not provoked by
members of the MNLF (Philippine Daily Inquirer,
Sept. 28, 2008).
During conflict, schools are turned into refugee
centers and classes are usually suspended.
Children in conflict areas stop going to school.
In the ongoing conflict in central Mindanao, the
ARMM Education Department has reported that
as of Sept. 23, 2008, 195 schools in 24 districts
have been closed, affecting at least 82,944
children (Philippine Human Rights Reporting, Sept.
23, 2008). Because of the recurrence of conflict
in many Moro areas, interrupted schooling is
becoming the norm.
For children, life in these evacuation centers can
be harrowing. “Children are unable to sleep for
fear that something will happen at night. They
cannot eat well. And of course, they are forced to
stop schooling…Oftentimes, children get hungry
and sick because of inadequate food and decent
homes,” observed Children’s Rehabilitation Center
Executive Director, Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac
(, Sept. 25, 2008).
Child Soldiers
The phenomenon of “child soldiers” is not exclusive
to the Philippines. In fact, it is happening in many
areas of conflict like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Columbia,
Uganda, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa., Angola
(Child Soldiers Newsletter, June 2003).
According to Anna Pinto (Indigenous Children,
2003), involvement of indigenous children in
conflict seems almost inevitable, since many
theaters of conflict are within indigenous lands
and indigenous communities are active parties
in it (p. 8). In other words, conflict becomes part
of the social environment that is experienced by
children as part of life. Another factor for children’s
involvement may have to do with having a “warrior
culture” where some capacity or skill with weapons
not only brings prestige but has become a survival
strategy (p. 8). This appears to be the case of the
Bangsamoros whose struggle for self-determination
is still going on.
Makinano’s study (Child Soldiers in the Philippines,
2002) noted that all armed groups (MILF. ASG,
NPA) in the country recruit children initially not
as combatants but to fulfill other supportive
tasks such as being couriers, purchasing and
transporting medicines, manning checkpoints,
serving as lookouts, collecting revolutionary taxes,
and recovering weapons from dead soldiers. But
some of these tasks can be dangerous.
Children remain vulnerable whenever there is an
all-out war campaign especially in ARMM. Salinlahi
Alliance for Children’s Concern noted that seven
percent of the victims of extrajudicial killings
recorded by human rights groups in ARMM from
2001 to 2007 were children, or a total of 60. Five
children were killed in 2007 who were branded
as combatants but were actually schoolchildren
caught in the crossfire. Similar incidents were
reported by the Department of Social Welfare
and Development (DSWD) in Sulu Indanan, where
children aged 4 to 16 were arrested and tortured
on August 19, 2007, and a 12-year-old who shot
together with other nine people last Jan. 18, 2007
(“All Promises, No Implementation,” AITPN, 2007).
The MILF has admitted that “those minors, trained
at an early age were usually orphans whose
parents died during the conflict in Mindanao
and no one is looking after them; others were
in communities frequently under attack by
government forces, and to enable them to defend
themselves, the MILF is providing them with
basic military training usually upon the request of
parents” (Business World, Sept. 8, 2008). Similar
claims about “taking care of children and at the
same time training them as per request of parents”
have been made by the NPA (Makinano, 2002).
More than these situations, children are also
recruited by armed groups eventually to become
combatants in wars.
Human Rights Watch noted that children most
likely to be recruited are the following: 1) poor;
2) separated from their families; 3) displaced
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
from their homes; 4) living in a combat zone; 5)
with limited access to education, and 6) from
communities with inadequate social services.
This was confirmed by Myra Macia of the Kabiba
Children Alliance, who stated that the problem
of child combatants “was rooted in the basic
problems of poverty, exploitation and development
aggression, especially in farming and ’lumad’
(native) communities in remote areas”( Makinano,
2002) All these conditions are present in many
Moro and IP communities.
Makinano also cited some of the reasons why or
how children become involved in armed conflict,
such as: 1) psychological reasons (i.e., thrill and
excitement); 2) social tension (i.e., peer pressure);
3) propaganda; and 4) forced recruitment or
abduction. The military reported that an estimated
2,000 minors fight in the NPA and MILF.
Studies show that child soldiers exhibit severe
psychological trauma and ultimately suffer from
reduced educational and economic potentials
(Forum, March-April 2006, p.2).
This bleak situation is somewhat relieved
by the announcement made by Ms Radhika
Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,
that the MILF has signed an action plan with the
UN to stop the recruitment and use of children,
separate them from the ranks and return them to
civilian life. However, how this will be monitored
is still to be set up. She also urged the Philippine
government to investigate allegations against
Philippine Security Forces for grave violations
against children. While she complimented the
government on its strong legal framework with
regard to children and armed conflict, she felt that
these policies need to be fully implemented (www., Dec. 12, 2008).
Although not all children become child soldiers,
wars do leave lasting effects in the mental and
emotional orientations that stay with them into
adulthood. When some children in a refugee camp
were asked what they want to be when they grow
up, one answered: “I want to be a doctor, but I will
not cure Muslims.”
Such a response does not come out of a
vacuum. Not when a report cited a church-based
humanitarian organization that refused to extend
relief assistance to Muslims, leading a priest to
issue this advice to NGOs assisting internally
displaced persons (IDPs) to “forget their biases
against any group of people. Do not select whom
you should serve, be they Christian or Muslims”
(Mindanews, August 15, 2008).
It is in this context that the issuance by
Commission of Higher Education (CHED) Chairman
Emmanuel Angeles of a memorandum for the
inclusion of peace education in the school
curriculum in teacher education institutions by
including courses and activities under the Special
Topics of the Teacher Education curriculum
becomes relevant. The Department of Education
(DepEd), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the
Peace Process (OPAPP) and CHED are the leading
agencies in implementing Executive Order No.
570, which institutionalizes Peace Education in
Basic Education and Teacher Education. This is
supposed to serve as one of the government’s
cornerstones for a long-term plan to establish
lasting peace in the country (,
July 9, 2009). There is much to look forward to in
the implementation of this scheme.
D. Human Rights
There are pressing human rights violations
that continue to affect the IPs’ and Moros’
engagement with the majorities. This has to do with
discrimination (biases, prejudices, stereotypes,
even bigotry) that permeates many sectors of
In 1999, the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) and CHR commissioned
Ugnayang Pang-agham Tao (UGAT) to conduct a
study on discrimination against IPs and Moros.
This was motivated initially by a comment by a
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official who
claimed that there is no discrimination in the
Philippines. UGAT’s findings showed otherwise,
since there existed so many prejudices against IPs
and Moros particularly in terms of rights to equality,
access to opportunity, stereotyping and prejudices,
and the usual suspects of criminality (Interview
with Director Elsie Ofreneo, Sept. 25, 2008, at the
CHR office, Quezon City).
A more recent study by Gert A. Gust (2007)
highlights the common experience of IPs in
employment as one of unfair treatment and
exclusion. He noted that discrimination perpetuates
the vicious cycle of prejudice, exclusion,
poverty, lack of education and opportunity and
the attending conditions of “deprivation” and
“marginalization” (p. 9). Although the study
focused on three IP groups, namely the Manobos,
Dumagats and Badjaos, similar experiences can be
expected across a larger IP population who have
remained isolated from mainstream society.
Bangsamoros also face similar, if not more vicious,
discrimination in terms of being the subject of
police operations for suspicion on illegal drugs and
terrorism activities; illegal raids on residences,
Dawah Centers, and mosques; illegal detentions;
and disappearances. In addition, they are shut
out from employment or from renting or buying
houses; experience delay or being passed over
in terms of promotions, and be subjected to
restrictions in travel due to profiling and so on.
Even getting a taxi is difficult for women wearing
veils or for men wearing traditional attires. The
Young Moro Professional Network(YMPN) has
disclosed employers’ stereotyping of Muslims as
being less educated and difficulty of employment if
wearing Muslim dress or using Muslim names, thus
leading some Muslims to change their names for
employment purposes (Cynthia Bulona, Philippine
Daily Inquirer, October, 22, 2008).
In terms of statistics, Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan
(Nation’s Report) Survey in 2005 showed that
33 to 44 percent of Filipino adults have an antiMuslim bias, although only 14 percent of them
had any direct dealing with Muslims. Television is
the main source of information for the majority of
respondents (78%), followed by radio (44%) and
newspapers (29%) (Philippine Human Development
Report, 2005, p. 55).
Cito Beltran, moderator in a recent forum of
the People’s Management Association of the
Philippines (PMAP) held in Baguio (Philippine Daily
Inquirer, Sept. 28, 2008, p. B3-2), asked why few
Muslims get jobs the moment their religion comes
into play. Pilar Almira, director of the Manila
General Hospital, answered that some company
officials usually hire people who caused less
friction in the workplace. This comment points to
the presence of stereotyping, biases and prejudices
even at the executive level of corporations.
Stereotyping also occurs in media. Such a case
reached the Supreme Court after the tabloid Bulgar
published a story on August 1, 1992 stating that
the reason Muslims do not eat pork is because
they worshipped the animal. The Supreme Court,
however, dismissed the petition of libel as lacking
in specificity. But Supreme Court Justice Antonio
Carpio wrote a dissenting opinion saying that “the
article was published with the intent to humiliate
and disparage Muslims and cast insult on Islam
as a religion in this country.” This calls to mind
the controversy regarding the publication of the
Prophet’s cartoon in Europe justified under the
principle of freedom of expression. A recent
development from the United Nation Human Rights
Council (UNHCR) shows the approval of a resolution
seeking to curb religious defamation by classifying
it as a human rights violation. The text reads,
“Defamation of religion is a serious affront to
human dignity leading to restriction on the freedom
of their adherents and incitement to religious
violence.” (, April 7, 2009)
In this context, the self-examination of media
leaders that took place in Tagaytay City last
August 2008 is instructive (Philippine Daily
Inquirer, Editorial, August 26, 2008). Some of
the observations brought out in this meeting are
not new, yet they persist in the media. One of the
observations is that the media tend to focus on
the bad or negative news about Mindanao as a
matter of economics because they sell. Another
observation is that reporting is skewed in favor
of Christian viewpoints, acknowledged by the
participants as due to the prejudice and biases
not only of the reporters but also of the editors biases and prejudices that are rooted in ignorance
or lack of information. The recommendations that
journalists be given additional training, including
education on the history and culture of Mindanao,
that journalists must diversify their sources in
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
order to get a more holistic view of incidents, like
the current conflict in Mindanao, that journalists
must conduct research and analysis in historical
context to give an in-depth report, are all well and
good and support the findings of a 2006 study
conducted by the Asian Institute of Journalism and
Communication (AIJC), titled “Prejudice and Pride:
News Media’s Role in Promoting Tolerance.” This
study not only identified biases against Muslims in
news reports but also showed a growing perception
that media give more attention to extremist views
that do not represent the views of the majority of
Muslims. Among its recommendations are creating
a comprehensive framework for media reportage
and adopting a non-discriminatory approach to
news reporting (cited in .
This situation led the Senate and House of
Representatives to address anti-Muslim biases
through laws that regulate the use of labeling,
particularly in the use of Muslim and Islamic to
describe criminals. Senator Edgardo Angara filed
Senate Bill 914, An Act Prohibiting the use of
the word “Muslim” or “Islamic” in Print, Radio,
Television and other forms of Broadcast Media
to refer or describe any person convicted of any
crime or suspected of committing any unlawful act
and providing penalties thereof. Aresto mayor or a
fine ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 pesos or both
shall be imposed on any person found guilty of
the act. The publisher and the president of media
outfits shall be liable for not lower than 50,000
pesos. Cancellation of license or franchise may
also be imposed ( Similar
bills addressing the same concerns are SB 710
authored by Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr and SB 2507
authored by Sen. Manny Villar
minority. Unjustified, illegal search because of
manner of dressing, religion, color, creed or ethnic
identity as well as discriminating against a person
applying for a job, and entry into establishments
because of one’s name, religion, or ethnic origin
are also included in this bill. Violators will be fined
from 200 to 6,000 pesos or imprisoned for six
months to six years (Philippine Star, April 4, 2008).
HB 03012, An Act Prohibiting Discrimination
Against Persons on Account of Ethnic Origin and/
or Religious Belief, authored by Party List AMIN,
Mujiv S. Hataman is also pending in the House of
However, eliminating discrimination entails a
long struggle to educate people. For this reason,
the school curricula should also address the
inadequate information regarding Moros and IPs. In
this context, Rep. Mujiv S. Hataman has authored
two bills, namely, HB 01805, An Act Providing the
Mandatory Study of Moro History, Culture and
Identity in the Curricula of All Levels of Schools in
the Country, and HB 1806, An Act Providing for the
Study of Lumad History, Culture and Identity in the
Curricula of all Levels of Schools in the Country.
Both bills have been pending in the Committee
on Basic Education and Culture since August 21,
These bills show the concern among some
legislators to address pressing issues important to
the welfare of Moros and IPs. That these bills are
still pending in either the House of Representative
or Senate shows that the concern is not
widespread. (For all bills cited, see www.congress.
Human Rights Violations
A House version (House Bill 100) authored by
Juan Angara, Balindong, Go, Ilagan, Jikiri, et al was
approved by the House on February 5, 2008 and
transmitted to the Senate on February 11, 2008.
Congresswoman Faysah Dumarpa, Representative
of Lanao del Sur, authored HB 948, An Act
Prohibiting Religious or Social Profiling Against
Indigenous Communities. The bill seeks to penalize
mimicking or imitating a person’s way of speaking,
particularly accent or diction. It also includes
degrading or insulting manner of a person towards
another, particularly one belonging to a cultural
UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples,
Mr. Rodolfo Stave Hagen, said in a recent visit, “I
am sorry to learn that the pattern of human rights
violations continues, and that there is an increase
of these incidents.” The Indigenous Peoples
Human Rights Watch, a network of IP networks
and non-government organizations, documented
123 killings of IPs from February 2001 to January
11, 2007. Eighty-four (84) of these cases occurred
beginning January 2003. The highest number was
in 2006, when 42 individuals were killed (CPA
Alliance, Feb. 8, 2007).
The most recent human rights case investigated
by CHR, apart from the Maguindanao bombing
attack on a family cited earlier, occurred in Sulu
on February 4, 2008, when eight persons, two of
them children aged 4 and 9, were killed in what
the military claimed as a “legitimate encounter”
against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) but which CHR
found to be “wanton carnage” of civilians. One of
the victims was an integré who was “maltreated,
tortured, hogtied and eventually shot to death in
cold blood in the presence of his wife.” Although
CHR recommended the filing of a case against the
perpetrators, no cases were filed (Mindanews, April
30, 2008).
Another human right violation is extra-judicial
killings. From January 2001 to June 2007, 885
have been killed extra-judicially and 183 have
disappeared, according to Karapatan (Alliance for
the Advancement of People’s Rights). Most of the
victims were affiliated with cause-oriented groups,
including leaders from indigenous communities.
The Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Watch
claims that 123 indigenous persons were killed
from February 2001 to January 2007, including
42 deaths in 2006. The Cordillera Administrative
Region (CAR) was identified as an area where extrajudicial killings are high. Human rights abuses
affecting 2,312 individuals, 710 families and at
least two communities have been recorded (AITPN,
Administrative Order No. 157 issued on August
21, 2006 set up an Independent Commission to
Address Media and Activist Killings and came to be
known as the Melo Commission. Accordingly, 77
criminal cases on political killings went on trial, 33
being prepared for prosecution as of mid-October
2007. Six persons have allegedly been convicted
but detailed information about the accused has
not been made public (AITPN, 2007). Meanwhile,
disappearances and extra-judicial killings continue.
E. Globalization
Transnational Corporations
The issue of globalization has both a negative and
a positive side. Among the negative effects are the
aggressive and increased activities of transnational
corporations (TNCs) in mining, logging, oil
drilling, dams that result “in the destruction
of the environment and traditional livelihoods,
privatization of resources, denial of rights and
further denial of their traditional livelihoods.” These
are some of the challenges faced by indigenous
peoples in the age of globalization, as discussed in
the International Conference on Conflict Resolution,
Peace-Building, Sustainable Development and
Indigenous People, held in Manila (Pauline Fan,
Indigenous People discuss means for conflict
resolutions, Dec. 25, 2000).
In the Philippines, large-scale mining has been
going on in many areas and has been the object
of protests from civil society and indigenous
peoples groups. In Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte,
the Subanen tribe has asked for UN intervention
in opposing the operation of a large-scale mining
company in Zamboanga del Norte (Manila Bulletin
Online, August 28, 2007). In the Cordillera, 66
percent of the region’s total area is covered by
various mining applications. Twenty three (23)
of the priority projects of the government are
found here. Many of these mining activities are
operated by foreign corporations, so the need to
be vigilant in protecting indigenous land rights led
to the formation of the Benguet Mining Alert and
Action Network (BMAAN) as a collective response
of the people to mining issues that affect their
communities. More importantly, this network can
make sure that all mining companies obtain the
necessary FPIC (free, prior and informed consent)
to ensure that the community exercises the right
to accept or deny any project being undertaken
in their territories (Cordillera Peoples Alliances,
Aug.11, 2008). That IPs have taken the initiative to
organize themselves in order to protect their own
communities signals the increasing assertion of
indigenous rights.
Because of the Moros’ continued struggle within
their territories, extractive and destructive
industries have not generally thrived except for
the logging concessions given to former rebels
or private individuals. Global fishing companies,
however, continue to operate in the Moro seas,
to the extent that local fishermen have been
displaced by bigger fishing vessels and fishing
grounds are being destroyed by the use of seine
fishing methods. More recently, poaching of
endangered species like marine turtles and turtle
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
eggs has increased. In Tawi-Tawi, 19 alleged
Chinese poachers were caught not only with 100
dead and butchered marine turtles but also live
ones, together with an estimated 10,000 turtle
eggs and two thresher sharks recently identified
as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. A
case has been filed against the poachers before
a court in Bongao for violating the Philippine
Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection Act
(RA 9147). However, the case has been pending
in court and, if the resolution of similar cases of
poaching is an indication, the usual pardon and
the payment of a light fine will be given so as not
to damage the relations between the country and
China (Philippine Star, Sept. 12, 2007). It goes
without saying that an examination and a more
stringent implementation of policies are necessary
to protect the marine resources of the country.
Cultural and Intellectual Rights
Globalization has also increased the vulnerability
of the IPs and Moros’ cultural and territorial
domains. Protection of indigenous knowledge and
intellectual property rights are therefore important
considerations in the growth of tourism and other
related industries in the Philippines.
Intellectual property rights are commonly
protected by copyrights, patents, trademarks
and trade secrets. This protection is embedded
in international laws such as the United Nations
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), ILO 169,
and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. Nationally, protection of IPs’ intellectual
property rights is provided for in IPRA, Section 29.
However, it has been found that gaps exist between
indigenous knowledge and the intellectual property
regime due to the nature and character of the
former. To bridge this gap, Sedfry M. Candelaria
has proposed the following (Candelaria, 2007):
Adequate protection of the intellectual
property rights of the Indigenous Peoples
may be established under the current
legal regime through subordinate
legislation and coordination between the
NCIP and the Intellectual Property Office
Congress must develop a sui generis
(a class by itself) system of registration
that penetrates the intellectual property
These proposals become more urgent when cases
of biopiracy take place. For example, banaba, a
medicinal herb well-known in the Cordillera and
other parts of the Philippines, which is used to cure
illnesses including diarrhea and diabetes, has been
patented by a Japanese company Itoen KK for its
anti-diabetic properties (Candelaria). This can also
happen in other places where IPs and Moros are
not aware about their rights.
Moros have similar problems with respect to
cultural materials that are being commercialized
because these have not been copyrighted or
patented like the case of the Tausug Ja, (native
cookies) now marketed under a new brand name.
Other cultural products like the pis (male traditional
headgear) have been turned into coverings for
purses, table placemats, wall décor, and so on.
Their cultural significance is no longer mentioned,
yet, these are considered heirloom pieces of
families and passed on through generations. Songs
composed by local singers have also been pirated
and commercialized by others. Examples are the
popular song Pa Kiring (from Sulu) now sold under
the title Dayang-Dayang or the Ba Lelleng (from
the Lelleng song of the Sama of Tawi-Tawi).
Presidential Decree 1083, otherwise known as
the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, that operates
in ARMM does not cover intellectual property
rights. This is mentioned in the Final Peace
Agreement as within the function of the Regional
Legislative Assembly under Patents, Trademarks
and Copyrights. But information on how these
processes work are not well-known. And since
cultural materials are seldom copyrighted, there is
no protection under these laws.
Global Telecommunication
On the other hand, globalization has had positive
effects in terms of global telecommunication
technology. Through these global communication
technologies, IPs and Moro groups have been able
to build networks with international support groups
addressing common issues and problems. They
are able to mobilize both local and international
organizations to respond quickly to current issues.
More importantly, they can access information
easily through the Internet and participate in
online discussions on issues that affect their
communities. International support groups also
provide help in capacity-building programs. Many
IPs and Moro organizations operate their own
websites which are accessible to anyone interested
in their campaign to raise awareness on the issues
that affect them.
Global travel has made contacts among varied
groups easier. Various festivals that highlight
cultural practices particularly of IPs have become
popular to local and foreign tourists alike. Moro
dances like the Singkil of the Maranao and
Pangalay of the Tausug are often shown for
tourists’ entertainment.
Moros and IPs have participated in the global
labor migration resulting in both good and bad
Ideas and events are accessed with the click of a
mouse and cable channels bring news from all over
the world on a 24-hour basis.
However, not all IPs and Moro communities are
able to take advantage of global communication
technology due to isolation and poverty.
Impact on the Welfare of Children
What emerges from this discussion is the direct
impact war has on children, particularly those
in conflict areas where they suffer psycho-social
trauma that, if not treated properly, can lead to
emotional and psychological problems later in life.
Children may grow up with anger and hostility in
their hearts towards their perceived “enemies.”
Interrupted schooling is another direct result of
conflict. Families who are constantly displaced
have children who eventually drop out of school.
Compounded by the loss of livelihood during
periods of displacements, families could no longer
afford to send their children to school. In addition,
school buildings are also used as refugee centers
so classes are automatically cancelled. .
Children’s health is also endangered, due not only
to malnutrition but to acquiring diseases in the
refugee centers that may lead to death or serious
complications later in life.
Because of continuing conflict, children have
become targets of recruitment by armed groups.
They become combatants and if captured are
tortured and treated as criminals. They can be
killed during combat. But they are also killed even
as they flee the conflict and become counted as
collateral damage.
There are various initiatives going on to help IPs
and Moros in the educational sphere. One example
is the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao
(BEAM) project of Australia. Its components are:
In-Service Teacher Training, Pre-Service Teacher
Training, Expanded Support to Muslim Education
(ESME), School Management, Student Assessment,
Material Development, Access, Institute for
Indigenous Peoples’ Education (IIPE), and Distance
Learning Program.
The Institute for Indigenous Peoples’ Education
(IIPE) serves as the main office for Region XI
activities and programs to develop and promote
Indigenous Peoples’ curriculum, IP culture and IP
youth. A Center for Indigenous People’s Education
was established in Koronadal City in Region XII
to provide support for BEAM initiatives for IP
communities in the region (
Recently launched was the Indigenous People’s
Living Heritage Center, the heart of the Pamulaan
Center for Indigenous People’s Education at
the University of Southeastern Philippines
(USEP) Mintal campus, Davao City. Ninety-six
(96) young people from 31 IP communities are
studying here to obtain college degrees so they
can return to help their communities (Philippine
Daily Inquirer, October 12, 2008). Still another
is the establishment of the Apu Pulamguwan
Cultural Educational Center (APC)in Bendum,
Malaybalay, Bukidnon. It has a culture-based
curriculum integrated with mainstream education
Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
and is considered one of the most successful
Indigenous People’s school in the country (Kareen
Marie Cerdenna, Indigenous People’s Education:
Mindanao, the Philippines, posted in www.fp2p.
Of great interest is the Expanded Support for
Muslim Education which started in 2005 assisting
private madaris (Islamic schools) in Regions XI,
XII, and ARMM. BEAM assistance focused on
five development areas namely: 1) curriculum
development, 2) learning development, 3)
resource development, 4) staff management,
and 5) community building. A total of 30 madaris
are being supported by BEAM. This is in line with
DepEd’s program on mainstreaming madrasah
education. (Editor’s note: madrasah is the singular
form of madaris.)
Education advocacy group E-Net Philippines is
calling for a budget allotment of 70 million pesos
to establish learning centers for IP communities in
Davao del Sur, Agusan and South Cotabato, where
education is inaccessible. The group also noted
that “since there is a concentration of Muslim
students in Mindanao, the curriculum should be
founded on Muslim wisdom while incorporating the
core competencies that will provide children and
youth the necessary knowledge to ‘compete’ in the
labor market” (GMANews.TV, August 4, 2008). The
need for a curriculum to reflect cultural sensitivity
and wisdom has been articulated by Moros and
IPs alike. Leah Enkiwe-Abayao puts it this way,
“Indigenous peoples should be introduced to
western knowledge system but at the same time be
equipped with the skills to understand the context
of such knowledge so they will not look down on
traditional culture as inferior” (Cultural Survival
Quarterly, Issue 27.4 at [email protected]).
According to UNESCO’s latest announcements,
governments around the world, including the
Philippines, are depriving children of basic
literacy and numeracy skills because they failed
to address “deep and persistent” inequalities
in education (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec. 1,
2008). This resonates deeply in isolated and
marginalized communities of the Moros and IPs
where children are unable to reach schools located
in far distances from their homes, or schools with
inadequate facilities or teachers. For that matter,
children are unable to complete schooling due
to the competing needs of the family to earn a
living, and children themselves become income
earners as child laborers. A recent award winning
documentary from GMA7, “Batang Kalabaw,”
details the conditions of child laborers working in
logging camps. When children should be in school,
they are out working to help support their families.
The reality and quality of life within many of the
Moro and IP communities leave much to be
desired, and children are the ultimate bearers
of these situations in lives lived in “quiet
desperation.” According to the 2006 Official
Poverty Statistics, the poorest regions are ARMM,
Caraga and Region IV-B. National levels like
those of Tawi-Tawi (ARMM) and Apayao (CAR) are
increasing by more than 40 percent between 2003
and 2006. In Tawi-Tawi, eight out of ten families are
poor. Not surprisingly, life expectancy in Tawi-Tawi
is also the lowest at 53.4 years (www.mindanews.
com, May. 30, 2009).
It can be said without exaggeration that significant
strides in many of the issues discussed will enable
the IPs and the Moros to live a better quality of life
than they have at present and this will positively
affect the welfare of their children.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Changes in the conceptualization of Cultural
Diversity mean not only recognition but also
respect and celebration of cultural differences.
Both national and international laws call for the
protection, promotion and preservation of different
cultures, described by UNESCO Director General
Koichiro Matsuura as “the common heritage of
Although these laws provide new policy directions
for governments, it is the reality on the ground that
is important. In the Philippines, the lived realities
of those culturally different, like the Indigenous
Peoples and the Moros, leave much to be desired.
Stereotypes, biases, and prejudices have led to
discrimination and human rights violations, to
exclusion, isolation, and marginalization.
But these conditions have also brought about a
people’s movement to assert their right to selfdetermination and thereby freely determine their
political status and freely pursue their economic,
social and cultural development. Government and
non-government groups, including Moros and IPs,
are engaged in various efforts to advance these
There are many strands to these efforts and the
need to calibrate them into a cohesive framework
and program is necessary. Of these, two strands
appear to be most urgent and these are peace and
security, and human rights.
The first strand has to do with the conflict in
Mindanao. War affects populations, particularly,
children, in horrific ways so that the urgency is
immediate. In this case, resumption of peace
negotiations is a must and indeed it is already
being planned. But negotiations can become an
exercise in futility if agreements only raise high
expectations but are not implemented, usually
explained as either due to lack of funds or lack
of political will or both. Two negotiations have
not brought peace; a third one along the same
lines cannot be justified. Negotiation founded on
social justice can be a good beginning to work
out the structural arrangements needed for a
comprehensive peace. Perhaps the issues of selfdetermination and ancestral domain discussed in
the context of history and rationality rather than
political expediency can bring a just conclusion to a
very old problem that refuses to go away.
Discrimination as essentially violating human rights
is another strand that stands out. To change the
mental set that breeds biases and prejudices, be
it among media practitioners, corporate managers,
politicians, generals, and others in high places, not
to mention amongst ordinary citizens, a curriculum
that teaches not just skills for employment but
skills to live with and that values “others” is a
paramount requirement for a society that aims for
harmony, unity and peace. Many human rights
violations stem from the type of attitude that
regards others as “enemy” or “inferior.” Embedded
biases rooted in history may be eliminated through
a systematic and rigorous campaign within both
formal and non-formal educational systems (to
include all institutions) that acknowledge the
strong contribution of cultural diversity to the life of
the nation and thus to nation building itself.
Finally, cultural diversity as a concept by itself
cannot improve the negative statistical data
referencing IPs and Moros. It must be accompanied
by a well-thought-out developmental plan that is
sustainable within the context of target societies,
which means that they are the planners rather
than the object of plans. Unfortunately, this is not
always the case. More often communities like the
Moros and IPs are subjected to alien schemes that
contradict their own sense of self and community.
Unless cultural diversity is recognized as vital and
integrated into the developmental process, then it
will not become the overarching principle beneficial
to marginalized communities like the IPs and
the Moros. Cultural diversity then will only mean
surface appreciation of differences in order that
one may appear to be politically correct. Thus, the
cycle of too much rhetoric too little justice goes on.
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Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
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Cultural Diversity:
Quest for Equitable and Sustainable Development
Developing the Filipino
Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
By Dr. Minda C. Sutaria
Today’s children will be the architects and builders
of Philippine society in the year 2020 and beyond.
The future of our country lies in their hands.
Whether that future will be a resplendent one
depends, in a large measure, upon how well we
nurture them. The surest way to insure a better
world for our future generations is to ameliorate the
condition of our children today.
The nature of the nurturance that our children
need in order to insure a resplendent future for
Philippine society is best defined in terms of basic
competencies that are calculated to bring about
functional literacy.
To insure that today’s children will become
functionally literate means that they are helped to
“a range of skills and competencies
– cognitive, affective and behavioral
– which enables individuals to live and
work as human persons, develop their
potential, make critical and informed
decisions, and function effectively
in society within the context of their
environment and that of the wider
community (local, national, global) in
order to improve the quality of their
lives and that of society.” (Literacy
Coordinating Council, 1998)
This definition and its five-strand indicators,
namely, communication skills, critical thinking
and problem solving, sustainable use of resources
and productivity, development of self and a sense
of community, and expanding one’s world vision,
provide direction not only for basic education but
also for higher education. It has provided direction
for the National Action Plan to Achieve Education
for All which was launched by the Department of
Education in 2006 with a Grand Alliance of 12
other government entities.
The Grand Alliance includes the heads of the
Department of Education as Chair, the Department
of Labor and Employment, Department of the
Interior and Local Government, National Economic
and Development Authority, Housing and Urban
Development Coordinating Council, Department of
Agrarian Reform, Commission on Higher Education,
Department of Social Welfare and Development,
Department of Health, Department of Agriculture,
National Anti-Poverty Commission, Technical
Education and Skills Development Authority, and
Office of the Executive Secretary.
The new definition of functional literacy proposed
by the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) in 1998
has made “literacy a blueprint for living and a
definition of what it means to be human.” (I. Cruz,
Education and literacy are essential in developing
today’s children for the roles they are expected to
play as good citizens. To play such roles effectively,
it will help if they possess what the 1991
Congressional Education Commission (EDCOM)
proposed as earmarks of an “educated Filipino,”
namely, “respects human rights, possesses
personal discipline guided by spiritual and human
values, can think critically and creatively, can
exercise responsibly his/her rights and duties as
a citizen, whose mind is informed by science and
reason, and whose nationalism is based on a
knowledge of our history and cultural heritage.”
Today an educated Filipino is perceived as
someone who possesses basic competencies
which are expected to be acquired and
demonstrated with proficiency in both Filipino and
English, besides his/her vernacular.
The challenges in society today and in the future
require that the competencies of educated Filipinos
should not be merely circumscribed to reading,
writing, comprehension and numeracy skills which
alone may not be sufficient to insure that they
will function effectively in their immediate and
gradually expanding community and in a rapidly
changing world.
Our children today must, therefore, be nurtured in
such a way that in the year 2020 and beyond, they
will constitute a mass of literate, well-informed, and
family- and God-loving citizens who are capable
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
of understanding complex problems, developing
workable solutions for action, forming convictions
and making decisions based on facts, acting with
vigor and consistency in spite of resistance or
opposition of those they interact with, equipped
with desirable values, and, best of all, capable
of improving the quality of their life and that of
society. This adequately essays what this paper
may sum up as Filipino 2020, which describes the
kind of citizens the country will have, given proper
Safeguarding Children’s Rights:
Prerequisite for Their Development
To achieve education and literacy for all by the
year 2015 and consequently insure the continuing
development of our children today into worthy
citizens in 2020 and beyond, it is essential to
safeguard their rights as human persons. It is
salutary that the government has put in place
the country’s framework for promoting and
implementing interventions for safeguarding the
rights of Filipino children, now popularly known as
Child 21.
Executive Order No. 310, s. 2000 issued Child
21 which provides a vision of the kind of citizens
the country will very likely have if the national
government staunchly supports it and all the
local governments from Batanes to Sulu would
integrate and actualize it in their local development
programs as well as allocate funds to support
related projects and activities from their internal
revenue allotment (IRA). If this happens, then
before or by the year 2020, every Filipino child will
very likely be:
born healthy and well, with an inherent
right to life, endowed with human dignity;
happy, loved and nurtured by a strong,
stable and God-loving family;
living in a peaceful, progressive, genderfair and child-friendly society;
growing safe in a healthy environment
and ecology;
free and protected by a responsive and
enabling environment;
reaching her/his full potential with
the right opportunities and accessible
imbued with Filipino values steeped in
his/her indigenous cultural heritage;
assertive of his/her rights as well as
those of others; and
actively participating in decision-making
and governance, in harmony and in
solidarity with others in sustaining the
Filipino nation.
To realize this vision for Filipino children requires
the combined efforts of the family, home, school,
church, government and in fact, all of society.
Forces for Change: Trends and Megatrends
From the year 2020 and beyond, today’s children
will have become adults, citizens who are
expected to play multiple roles in society. They
will be members and heads of families, workers
in government and private enterprises or selfemployed, leaders in their community, government,
education, industry, media and other sectors of
society. They will choose their leaders or be the
leaders themselves. They will make important
decisions that impact on their lives, their family,
their community and the whole country. How they
will act in their multiple roles at home, in their
place of work and in their gradually broadening
social groups and community will largely depend
upon how well they are nurtured.
The programs developed and implemented to
equip the young for the various roles they will
play when they become adults will be influenced
by certain developments and trends which may
accelerate or decelerate progress toward national
goals, such as education for all by the year 2015
and a well-developed country by the year 2020
and beyond. A scanning of such forces for change
provides direction for educational development
efforts and insures that the programs developed
and implemented will produce the kind of citizens
envisioned to bring about a resplendent future for
the country.
Economic Revolution
Rapid economic development requires a qualified
and well-trained labor force and improved support
facilities such as roads, bridges, ports and
modern electrical and communication systems.
Microeconomic technology, which enhances
manufacturing processes, increases production
and is adopted in a larger scale, will require more
sophisticated skills from the labor force. This may
result in unemployment of a number of workers,
whose skills have become obsolete because of the
introduction of modern machinery and production
processes and who have not had an opportunity to
train in the use of the new machinery and process
of production.
There arises a need for training in new production
processes and services calculated to raise
productivity and improve product quality.
Immediate response to this need will raise the
workers’ competitive position in both the domestic
and international fronts. It will undoubtedly
encourage the development of innovative delivery
modes for industrial education and training and
consequently produce a new breed of workers who
are technically trained as well as competent and
enlightened on their role in industry.
Present public and private educational institutions
will need to appropriately review and renew their
curricular offerings to attune them to the changing
needs of business and industry.
The Department of Education has gone a step
ahead in this direction by enriching the secondary
school curriculum with subjects for technical
and vocational skills development in the hope
that students who cannot afford or do not plan
to go to college can join the world of work and
have a means of livelihood upon graduation from
secondary school.
Today is quite different from a decade or two
ago. We find ourselves in an era in which the
engine of progress is communication rather than
transportation. Communication has brought
countries closer through recent wonderful
advances which we now see in computers,
networks, satellites, film optics and other related
technologies and are dramatically changing the way
we collect, manipulate and translate information
and even provide and acquire education. It has
brought people and countries closer together.
Globalization has dramatically altered structures
in the world of work. In our globalized world,
the competitiveness of national economies and
enterprises depends, in a large measure, on a
highly skilled workforce that can respond effectively
and efficiently to changing work processes. An
essential part of such processes is ICT. This
requires continuous adjustment on account
of evolving hardware and software, modern
communication and the immediacy of information
on the Internet. As the knowledge and skills of
workers are regularly updated and expanded,
more advanced knowledge of ICT becomes a
must. Such new and changing demands require
appropriate and periodically updated training. Akin
to the demands of rapid economic development,
globalization requires appropriate and periodically
updated training. Such catchwords as “lifelong
learning” and “learning-on-demand” would
appropriately describe the kind and extent of
training needed. The training may heavily lean
on ICT and may incorporate e-learning and mobile
UNESCO-APNIEVE suggests that an effective way of
counteracting the negative effects of globalization
is to share universal values for regional and global
peace without detracting from the desirable
traditional values of the country which must
be strengthened and maintained. Curricula for
the development of desirable values need to be
reviewed and revised to insure that the negative
effects of globalization, such as materialism and
indifference to one’s native culture and values, are
avoided and the desirable traditional values of the
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
Filipino, such as respect for elders and authority,
close family ties and the “bayanihan” spirit, are
retained and strengthened. It is highly desirable
that the virtue of punctuality and the capacity to
listen attentively become attributes of every Filipino
man, woman and child so that “Filipino time”
which is often expressed with a measure of disdain
will then mean “on time.” Should this happen
in the near future, no time will be frittered away
and people can be more effective and efficient in
everything they do.
A global environment is participative, consultative
and decentralized. This means that the Filipino
as a global citizen will need to behave in a more
democratic and consultative manner. Greater
public access to new information technology
needs to be provided to give the public greater
opportunities to participate and provide occasions
for continuing dialogue and consultation. (Braid,
The kind of literacy needed in a global environment
is the ability to be responsive and flexible, because
times change and even occurrences that we do
not anticipate do happen. The school through the
curriculum should teach the Filipino learner to be
continually responsive or to even go beyond what is
prescribed to be an effective member of society.
Lifelong Learning
The increasing interconnection between
individuals, societies and countries around the
world, brought about by new information and
communication technologies, has given rise to
the need to review and interpret our usual ways of
thinking and doing. Since the socio-economic and
political environment has changed and continues
to change, the potential individual and social
benefits of lifelong learning have become valuable
in the development of individuals and society.
Lifelong learning is popularly understood as
learning from the cradle to the grave. UNESCOinitiated reports, such as the 1972 Faure Report
and the Delors Report which introduced the four
pillars of lifelong learning – learning to know,
learning to do, learning to be and learning to live
together – emphasized the need for each person
to learn how to learn and how to use knowledge
ethically in order to fully contribute to social
Lifelong learning becomes imperative in the face
of rapid explosion of knowledge and information
and the fast rate of change in the experiences of
individuals and their capacity to assimilate and
apply these in their everyday lives.
The Delors Commission identified certain tensions
that may affect the process of lifelong learning,
four of which have particular relevance to the
Philippines. These are the tensions between
the local and the global, the individual and the
universal, tradition and modernity, and the spiritual
and the material (UNESCO-APNIEVE, 1998).
These projected tensions give rise to the need
for curricular offerings and teaching strategies
to be reviewed and renewed in such a way that
learners will be adequately equipped to forestall
such tensions or to reduce them if they occur at
all. Development of the virtue of tolerance and
understanding can never be overemphasized in the
process of preventing or reducing such tensions
which could militate against lifelong learning and
the development of a wholesome personality – an
attribute that is desirable for both our youth and
adults in a global society. Values development
efforts will need to address the need for tolerance
among the citizens of tomorrow.
Burgeoning Partnership between Education,
Business and the Community
A salutary trend in educational development in the
country is the burgeoning partnership between the
education, community and business sectors, which
is evident in the increasing involvement of the
business sector and the community in developing
and supporting ways to improve education in the
country. The growing closeness between those
who manage and provide education, particularly
in the basic education sector, and the corporate
sector and the community has resulted in more
support for education and greater enthusiasm on
the part of the people to support it.
Brigada Eskwela, which brings the community to
the schools shortly before school opening to help
spruce up the classrooms for a more pleasant
atmosphere for learning, becomes quite visible
right before school opening in May and June.
It is gratifying to observe how the community
contributes materials, money and volunteer labor
needed to clean and put in order the classrooms
and school grounds a week or two before
enrollment and school opening. The increasing
participation of the community in preparing the
schools for school opening has not only improved
the classrooms and the school grounds but also
demonstrated genuine civic spirit among the
people of a community. The cleaner, better-looking
and more adequately equipped classrooms inspire
the teachers and the learners and promote more
effective learning sessions for the young. The close
relationship between the parents and the teachers
has increasingly inspired both to work together for
the benefit of the learners.
Private sector contributions through the Adopt-ASchool program have increased from two billion
pesos in 2002 to four billion pesos in 2008. There
are indications that this will further increase in the
coming years.
There are at present several business organizations
that have active education-related programs. In
2002, the Foundation for Worldwide People Power
(FWPP) launched the Education Revolution, which
involves mentoring of teachers, because it strongly
believes that this endeavor is the only visible longterm solution to improving the quality of education
and redressing poverty.
The League of Corporate Foundations evolved the
57-75 Movement which is intended to restore the
level of quality that public education has missed
for sometime. An influential group of business
leaders collectively known as Philippine Business
for Education (PBED) supports the project 1000
Teachers Program which provides scholarships for
the best and the brightest high school graduates
who want to become teachers. Synergeia, an
organization of professionals and civic–spirited
citizens, supports innovative programs calculated
to improve the quality of education in some schools
using funds it raises.
There is a host of other civic-spirited and
concerned groups that have launched projects that
contribute to raising school participation rates and
learners’ level of achievement, all intended to help
achieve the goal of education of good quality for all.
The combined support of the community and the
business sector for education will undoubtedly
significantly contribute to the realization of the goal
of achieving quality education for all by the year
To insure the continuous and progressively
increasing support of the community and business
for education, the Department of Education
may need to create an office to efficiently and
effectively handle all private sector contributions to
education. The functions of such office will include
mounting campaigns for support of education;
keeping track of all contributions/aid to education
and how they are spent; planning and seeing
through the implementation of educational projects
supported by the community and business sector;
preparing reports on the projects; communicating
to donors, the community and the public the
status and results of projects/programs supported
by the community and the business sector;
fiscal management; coordinating with project
implementers; and preparing status reports on
projects being implemented.
The manner in which the Department of Education
will treat all projects and contributions addressed
to improving the outreach and quality of education
will to a large extent determine the success of such
projects in achieving the goal of basic education for
all by 2015 and insure the continuing support of
these sectors for education.
Population Explosion
Our rapid population growth rate of 2.1 percent
has made it very trying for the government to
adequately provide funds to support the school
population that increases by the millions yearly.
While population explosion may insure adequacy
of human capital, it militates against efforts to
provide quality education for all. As long as our
population increases at the rate it does today, the
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
dream of a higher quality of education for all will
remain an elusive one. While education’s share
in the government’s budget is the largest slice, it
has never been adequate to cover expenditures
necessary to raise participation rates and the
quality of outcomes of education.
The budget of P149 billion in 2008 has not
warranted the organization of smaller classes
nationwide which could be more conducive to
effective learning and consequently reduction
of school dropout rates. Consider how much
learning can take place in a class of 50 or more
on the double-single session plan. Some learners
especially the slower ones, who do not receive the
attention they urgently need from their teacher in
order to learn effectively in such a large class, may
drop out and constitute educational wastage that
the country cannot afford
To solve the problem of inadequate funds for basic
education every year, there is need for curbing
the country’s galloping population growth rate. A
population program that is acceptable to all – the
family, church, public, government and other social
institutions – will ultimately result in a school
population size that will not unnecessarily strain
government resources and will very likely insure the
provision of a better quality of education for all.
The school can play an important role in curbing
rapid population growth by making the young
learners’ realize that large families need more
resources to support them and to insure that they
will have a better quality of life. If early in their
lives, they will perceive the advantage of smaller
families, then they will likely decide to have the size
of family that they can comfortably support when
they grow up, get married and have a family. This
underscores the need for the school to develop in
the young the ability to make critical and informed
decisions in order to improve the quality of their
lives and that of society as they grow up.
protecting, preserving and improving it, impacts
on the quality of life of learners, specifically their
health, well-being and safety, which affects their
capacity to learn and to attend school regularly.
The survival and security of humanity rest upon
how people acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes
and values for the benefit of the common good.
Continuing education for the sustainability of
the environment is a must in the development of
today’s children. They must be helped to realize
that they have a moral obligation to save the earth
not only for themselves but for future generations
as well, and that they can do this by revising their
patterns of behavior and even modifying their
Education for sustainable development “must meet
the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs” (Bruntland, 1987). It places people and the
quality of their present and future life in the center
of an activity addressed to their development: To
realize real improvement in the lives of people,
sustainable development must achieve a good
balance between economic growth and social
and cultural development and environmental
To insure a resplendent future for our children
today, the schools for both basic and higher
education must educate them for active
participation in insuring sustainable development.
Print and broadcast media must be harnessed to
intensify the country’s program for sustainable
development which should be the concern of all.
Continuing education for sustainable development
should enable all Filipinos to show a deeper
concern for not only preserving the environment
but also improving it as we work to achieve a better,
more livable and secure future.
International Labor Migration
Environmental Degradation: Need for
Education for Sustainable Development
The deterioration of the environment, which stems
from people’s ignorance and lack of concern for
Diaspora cuts like a double-edged sword. While
parents who work overseas may put more food on
the table that makes their children healthy and
mentally alert and have more copious means to
support their education, they may deprive them of
parental tender loving care and guidance which are
essential in their development into citizens with
well-rounded personalities who can confidently
take their place in a democratic society.
The 2003 Children and Families Study* revealed
that “parental absence creates displacements,
disruptions and changes in care-giving
arrangements.” However, “despite the emotional
displacement, the children of migrants are not
disadvantaged vis-à-vis the children of nonmigrants in many dimensions of well-being. Thus,
when the family is stable, it can withstand the
separation imposed by migration.” This stresses
the need for caring families in the development of
today’s migrants’ children into worthy citizens of
The 2003 study revealed that the children of
migrants are better off in terms of socio-economic
variables. This negates the finding in the 1996
study (Battistello and Conaco, 1998, 1996) that
OFW children did not do as well as non-OFW
children in academic performance
The 2003 study, however, revealed that, just as
the 1996 study indicated, the children of migrant
mothers did not do as well in school as the other
children. While the improved economic status of
migrant families has produced more healthy OFW
children, the children of migrant mothers did not
do as well in school compared to other children.
This has implications for the nature of caregiving
that should be provided children of migrant
mothers in order not to dwarf their development
and to develop them into citizens ready to face the
challenges of the new millennium
One interesting finding of the 1996 study is that
the children of migrants have higher church/
mosque attendance and incidence of praying
than the non-OFW children. This reveals that the
“lingering emotional costs of the separation of
family members are redressed within the family
and through prayers.” There is reluctance of
such children’s families to seek other agencies
or institutions when it comes to non-economic
The findings of both the 1996 and the 2003
studies point to the need for more concerted action
for the benefit of children of migrant parents.
Mass media need to be more active in providing
education and information to OFW families on such
relevant topics as child rearing, parenting tips,
and changing gender roles, particularly the role of
fathers especially when the mother is the overseas
The important role that the government plays
in delivering appropriate programs to OFW
families can never be over-emphasized. Local
governments and the school can collaborate and
mount programs on caregiving, parenting and
gender sensitivity or guarding of migrant children.
Teachers, school heads and other personnel, as
part of the support system of OFW children, could
be more prepared for such role if their awareness
and understanding of migrant issues is enhanced.
Alternative Learning System (ALS)
The alternative learning system of the Department
of Education (DepEd) is perceived by no less
than Secretary Jesli Lapus as “the lifeblood of
its Education for All efforts,” for as he declared,
“without it, achievement of all Education for
All targets within the time frame set cannot be
realized.” Limited resources prevent the system
from addressing the needs of out-of-school
learners, particularly those who dropped out of
school because of poverty, ill health and other
It is salutary that the Department of Education
has adopted the alternative learning system as its
strategy for solving its problem of declining school
participation rate.
The Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS)
has taken bold and innovative steps to raise the
quality of education provided by its Alternative
Learning System (ALS). It strives to develop and
introduce cost-effective alternative learning
strategies for achieving adult functional literacy
in the regional languages, Filipino and English.
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
In spite of its limited budget, it has progressively
developed a curriculum parallel to that of the
formal education system for basic education which
is the basis of its accreditation test. Given once
yearly in earlier years, the test was administered
twice in 2008.
BALS, which is mandated to oversee all ALS
efforts, gets less than one percent of the annual
allocation for basic education. This is far too small
compared to what the vast ALS learners require to
educate them, particularly the out-of-school youth
population of about 12 million, around the same
number of those who are in school. BALS can meet
the learning needs of only a small portion of this
number, because DepEd has not much to spend for
alternative learning.
While DepEd continues to find ways of bringing
back out-of-school youth to the formal school
system, many of these youth may choose not to
go back simply because they are overaged or their
economic situation bars them from doing so. This
is the sad reality that DepEd has to contend with.
Out-of-school youth living in conflict areas
especially in Muslim Mindanao and those who
have peculiar educational needs, such as nomadic
people from cultural minority groups, are hampered
from going to school. These and other marginalized
learners require alternative modes of education
that can provide them with literacy skills which they
need to become effective and productive members
of society.
While those in the education sector recognize the
value of ALS as a strategy for achieving the goals
of EFA, it has not yet earned general acceptance
as a legitimate learning strategy by most of both
our policymakers and the general public. This
behooves the need to increase public awareness
and acceptance of it as a legitimate strategy
for learning. To gain wider acceptance of ALS,
DepEd has gone to the extent of making people’s
champion, Manny Pacquiao, the Ambassador
for the Alternative Learning System, after he
successfully hurdled the Accreditation and
Equivalency Examination of ALS in 2007.
The country cannot afford to let more Filipinos go
into adulthood without benefit of basic education.
Our already overcrowded public schools are
incapable of accommodating the about 16 million
Filipinos who have either dropped out of school or
never gone to school (Lapus, 2007).
Measures are being taken to improve the quality
and outreach of ALS such as the use of various
technologies now available like radio, TV, e-learning
and other multimedia forms that may provide more
cost-effective alternative learning opportunities.
The upgrading of the personal and professional
welfare of the mobile teachers and integration of
ALS in the pre-service teacher education curricula
are currently receiving attention as steps towards
raising the quality of education through ALS.
The need to improve the ALS standards through
continuing evaluation of its programs, materials
and evaluation instruments is being met in order
to make its outcomes comparable to that of the
formal system.
The increasing number of examinees for the
Accreditation and Equivalency Program (A and E)
is an indication that more and more out-of-school
youth and dropouts are taking advantage of it.
The progress of ALS has lately been accelerated
by local governments that have provided funding
support for it. Prominent in the reports of local
governments that merited prizes in the 2008 LCC
National Literacy Awards were lists of ALS passers
who went to college and graduated with honors
and those who are doing well in business and other
areas of endeavor.
Given sufficient budget and human resource
support, ALS will play an important role in the
National Education for All program.
Basic Education Today: the Challenges
The 2003 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass
Media Survey (FLEMMS) revealed the existence
of nine million Filipinos, 10 to 64 years old, who
are not functionally literate. This means that this
sector of the population does not possess the basic
Grade 6, most of them in the first two
skills and essential knowledge that would make
them effective members of Philippine society. The
2003 FLEMMS likewise revealed that, out of 57.6
million Filipinos who are 10 to 64 years old, 3.8
million do not know how to read and write, and
a total of 9.2 million are not functionally literate
or unable to compute and lack certain important
numeracy skills.
Another cause of concern is the poor performance
of the public system of elementary and secondary
schools. The whole system has “failed to deliver
overall excellence (high average achievement by
all students) as well as assure general fairness
(low variation in levels of achievement among
individual students) to 90 percent of the total
number of school children that the schools take in
Grade 1 each year, and this failure has continued
yearly for at least the past four decades through
different economic circumstances and political
administrations.” (Philippine EFA 2015 National
Plan, p. 8)
This indicates that “most students either do not
complete the full ten years of basic education, or
obtain their grade school or high school credentials
without necessarily acquiring sufficient mastery of
the required competencies particularly in English.”
(Philippine EFA 2015 National Plan, p. 8)
School participation and completion rates are
likewise dismal. “In 2002-2203, 90.32 percent of
the total population, 6-11 years old – the official
ages for Grades 1 to 6 – were enrolled at the
beginning of the school year, but the 9.68 percent
that were not in schools constitute nearly 1.2
million disadvantaged children. These schoolage children not in school will very likely join the
ranks of adult illiterates or functional illiterates.”
(Philippine EFA National Plan, p. 7)
Educational disadvantage is not confined to those
who never go to school, for more than 90 percent
of school-age Filipinos who enter school drop out
along these lines (Philippine EFA National Plan, p.
For every 1,000 Grade 1 entrants
• 312 will leave school before finishing
249 will finish the sixth grade at an
average of 9.6 years, each repeating
some grade levels 2-3 times, and
only 439 will graduate from
elementary school in six years. Only
seven who graduate from elementary
school have sufficient mastery of
English, Mathematics and Science
competencies after exerting effort for
an average of 7.31 school years per
For every 1,000 entrants in first year high
• 389 will leave school without
completing four years,
353 will graduate after repeating
2-3 times, taking an average of 6-7
years, and
only 248 will graduate within the
required four years.
Taking the two levels together, a typical
group of 1,000 Grade 1 entrants
eventually will yield only:
• 395 finishing high school,
162 finishing elementary and high
school in 10 years, and
only 233 finishing elementary and
high school after each taking up to
16 years to complete the 10-year
basic education cycle.
It is likely that a very small number of these
high school graduates will have acquired the
necessary competencies expected from ten years
of schooling.
The figures quoted above reveal that “most Filipino
students acquire the basic tools of functional
literacy, although a considerable number (up to 3.6
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
million are not literate and up to 9.2 million are not
functionally literate) do not even have rudimentary
tools.” (Philippine EFA 2015 National Plan, p. 8)
From the point of view of building a nation, “a
survey of young people 7-21 years old revealed that
65 percent do not participate in any community
activities; only 37 percent can sing the national
anthem; and only 28 percent can write the
Panatang Makabayan. These facts reveal that the
young today have an education disadvantage from
the point of view of nation building.” (Philippine
EFA National Plan, p. 6)
The figures cited above constitute the challenges
that the Grand Alliance for Education for All faces,
for they reveal that the whole Philippine population
is still very far from attaining the ideal of an
educated nation.
Basic Education Today: DepEd 2009 Report
The business of educating the nation has become
more challenging from year to year. This year it
has become doubly exacting on account of the
current global economic recession added to the
yearly problems of inadequate resources, school
population explosion and the worsening economic
deprivation of a sizeable sector of the population.
BESRA is envisioned to revolutionize the delivery
of basic education and to transform the culture
within DepED. It has five key result thrusts: (1)
continuous school improvement facilitated by
active involvement of stakeholders, (2) better
learning outcomes achieved by improved teacher
standards, (3) desired learning outcomes
enhanced by national learning strategies,
multi-sectoral coordination and quality
assurance, (4) improved impact on outcomes
resulting from complementary Early Childhood Care
and Development (ECCD), the alternative learning
system and private sector participation, and (5)
institutional cultural change in DepED to facilitate
school initiatives for assuring quality.
The UNICEF-assisted Child-Friendly School System
(CFSS) initiative under the Sixth GOP-UNICEF
Country Program for Children provides staunch
support for the policy and program agenda of
How has basic education fared since the initiation
of the EFA Plan and BESRA? Quoted below are
DepEd’s responses to some of the frequently-asked
questions on basic education in a report it issued
recently, titled “The DepEd Report Card: Moving on
To Sustain Better Performance.”
For the school year 2009-2010, the DepEd
anticipated 22.44 million enrollees for
preschool and basic education. Of this
number, 19.46 million (87%) are in public
schools, 14.22 million in elementary schools
and 6.97 million in secondary schools.
Those enrolled in public elementary schools
comprise 92 percent of the total enrolment,
while those in public high schools comprise 80
As a strategic response to nagging problems in
basic education, DepED initiated the project Basic
Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA) in 2006.
It was designed to enable the sector to attain the
goals of its Education for All (EFA) Plan 2015 which
aims to provide basic competencies to everyone in
order to attain functional literacy for all.
The EFA Plan has four intended outcomes: (1)
universal coverage of out-of-school youth and
adults in the provision of basic learning needs, (2)
universal school participation and elimination of
dropouts and repetition in the first three grades,
(3) universal completion of the full cycle of
basic education schooling with satisfactory
achievement levels by all at every grade and year,
and (4) total community commitment to attainment
of basic education competencies for all.
How large is the student population?
How adequate are the resources for
schoolchildren enrolled in public schools?
For Textbooks
Public school students are assured of
adequate and quality textbooks and other
learning materials. DepEd’s textbook
inventory for the school year 2009-2010 is
76.2 million. The textbook-pupil ratio for
English is 1:1, Science 1:2, Mathematics 1:3,
Filipino 1:2 and Makabayan 1:1. Within the
school year 2009-2010, the delivery of 10.8
million textbooks for Mathematics, Physical
Education and Music and Arts will very likely
bring the textbook-pupil ratio for all the
subjects to 1:1. This augurs well for raising
the learners’ level of achievement.
The DepEd has streamlined its textbook
procurement process. It has been given
recognition for its effectiveness and efficiency
by the World Bank. Cited as an international
best practice, it is now being replicated by a
number of countries.
For Teachers
There are 492,035 public school teachers
nationwide, of whom 353,254 are in
elementary schools and 138,781 in high
schools as of 2008; and in 2009, 8,823 new
teaching positions were made available.
While the present average teacher-student
ratio for public elementary schools is 1:36
and is slightly higher at 1:39 for public high
schools, the ratio may not be so in some
remote and thickly-populated areas such as
the cities with dense populations. The lowerratio classes may exist in distant and hard-toreach barangays.
For Classrooms and Other Facilities
A total of 431,412 classrooms exist
nationwide. In 2008 DepED constructed
9,835 classrooms. For 2009, additional
10,538 more were planned to be built.
Between January and April 2009, 4,644
classrooms were built and 2,300 more were
scheduled for completion last June 2009.
The latest inventory lists 17,111,388 pieces
of school furniture. By the end of 2009,
additional 1,212,750 pieces of school
furniture will be made available.
While a sufficient number of chairs were made
available for school year 2009, shortages
may occur in some areas on account of the
continuing increase in student population and
destruction caused by natural and man-made
On Training of Teachers
How does DepED insure qualified and
competent school heads and teachers?
A total of 132,127 public school teachers
received various types of in-service training to
further enhance their teaching competencies.
To upgrade the competencies of nonmajors teaching science and mathematics,
the DepEd, Department of Science and
Technology (DOST) and Commission of Higher
Education (CHED) have been providing muchneeded training through a Certificate Program
for non-majors in Science and Mathematics.
Teachers who complete the program earn
a certificate for Minor in Science and
A similar program for non-majors in teaching
English, Filipino, Social Studies, Music, Arts
and Physical Education is offered by Centers
of Training identified by the DepED and CHED.
To improve teacher proficiency in the use
of the English language, a National English
Proficiency Program has been launched.
Non-qualified Madrasah teachers are enrolled
in the Alternative Teacher Education Program
for Madrasah teachers offered by selected
teacher education institutions.
School heads now play a more active
role in the training of their teachers. The
decentralization thrust of DepED has propelled
them to plan and implement training courses
using funds directly downloaded to their
schools by the Department of Budget and
Management (DBM). Through such grants,
some 4,000 schools are expected to receive
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
P50,000.00 each to fund school improvement
activities including training courses for
teachers in 2009.
On Training of School Officials
In 2008 the National Educators Academy
of the Philippines (NEAP) located in Baguio
trained 2,600 principals in highly relevant
areas such as school-based management,
school improvement planning, instructional
leadership, bridging leadership and simplified
record keeping.
in round holes. It will encourage the best
and the brightest to pursue a teaching career
especially if the compensation system is
DepED has been working with the Commission
on Higher Education (CHED), Professional
Regulation Commission (PRC), Civil Service
Commission (CSC) and other relevant agencies
and teacher education institutions for full
institutionalization of the NCBTS.
Some 1,140 district supervisors were trained
by NEAP on school development planning and
related topics.
The Asian Institute of Management (AIM)
was contracted to offer its Leadership
Development Program to undersecretaries,
assistant secretaries, regional directors,
assistant regional directors and other
senior central office officers. The
Management Development Program was
for superintendents and the Basic Business
Development Program was for school
Other institutions that provided leadership
and management training to DepED personnel
are SEAMEO INNOTECH, University of the
Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University.
On Competency Standards
The DepED has adopted the National
Competency-Based Teachers Standard
(NCBTS) as framework for the personal and
professional development of its teachers.
Complementing NCBTS is the Teacher’s
Strengths and Needs Assessments (TSNA)
that guides the teacher in determining his/her
professional development needs.
Adoption of NCBTS, a competency-based
system of selection, recruitment and
development of teachers and principals, helps
insure that the DepEd would avoid recruiting
or promoting teachers and school officials
who could merely end up being square pegs
Is BESRA making a difference?
After considering all that DepEd has done through
BESRA thus far, two questions may be raised: Is
BESRA making a difference? Is BESRA bringing
the country closer to realizing education for all by
All the statistics on the performance indicators
defined above reveal improvement from 2006
to 2008, as shown in DepEd’s report titled
“The DepEd Report Card: Moving on to Sustain
Better Performance.” Take a look at the DepEd
performance in meeting the challenge of
increasing the education system’s efficiency and
Table 1 shows how DepEd’s performance has
improved since BESRA was launched.
SY 2008-2009 Participation Rate is based on a
preliminary enrolment report.
Note in Table 1 how participation, cohort survival,
completion and dropout rates have improved from
school year 2006-2007 to 2007-2008 in both the
elementary and secondary levels.
Has the proficiency level of students increased?
The scores in the Grade 6 National Achievement
Test which is administered to students towards the
end of the school year mirror modest gains from
the Projects BESRA and EFA 2015.
In Table 2, note a 4.0 percent increase in English,
Math and Science from SY 2005-2006 to SY 20062007, and from SY 2006-2007 to SY 2007-2008
Table 1. Key Performance Indicators of Increasing Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness
Participation Rate
Cohort Survival Rate
Completion Rate
Dropout Rate
School Year
School Year
School Year
School Year
School Year
Table 2. Grade 6 National Achievement Test in MPS
School Year
School Year
% Improvement from
Previous Year
School Year
English, Science
and Math
an increase of 6.0 percent. Should the trend
of increases continue, there is hope of raising
the achievement level of Filipino students to at
least 75 percent which the League of Corporate
Foundations has set in its desire to restore the
level of quality that the public has missed for
several decades.
In terms of mastery level, students with low level
declined from 8.18 percent in 2007 to 3.67
percent in 2008. Students moving towards
mastery improved from 39 percent to 49 percent.
Those who are close to achieving mastery now
represent 5.53 percent from 4.0 percent in 2007.
The inspiring gains chalked up by DepEd since
it launched BESRA and EFA 2015 are perceived
by many as the spark at the end of the tunnel
which may grow into a bright light as the national
government continues to progressively increase
its appropriation for basic education, to keep
BESRA and EFA going in high gear, until such time
that Filipino children start developing into citizens
envisioned as the architects and builders of the
Filipino nation in 2020 and beyond.
% Improvement from
Previous Year
Bridging the Gap: The Realities Today and
the Scenario
In strategic planning, a scenario is like a lighthouse
that guides a ship’s captain during a dark, stormy
night. It serves as a potent guide to action in the
direction of a goal. It has the capacity to propel an
individual or a group to dream up strategic options
for bridging the gap between present realities and
the desired future.
The scenario of today’s Filipino children in 2020
and beyond requires massive multi-sectoral and
results-oriented action to bring it into reality. All
sectors of society must provide their undivided
support to realize it. If indeed our children today
are to build a resplendent future for the Philippines,
they must be provided the kind of environment that
will develop them into world-class citizens imbued
with knowledge, skills and values that will insure
that they will function effectively in their rapidly
changing and broadening social milieu.
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
Both government and non-government sectors
will need to collaborate and act promptly, both
singly and in collaboration with other sectors, to
accelerate the pace of action to close the gap
between the scenario of today’s Filipino children in
2020 and beyond and the present reality. Some
strategic actions calculated to contribute to the
realization of a positive scenario are presented in
the following sections.
More Vigorous Advocacy for Child
A cogent social advocacy program which will
be effective in getting the whole Filipino nation
involved in developing today’s children into worldclass citizens would be an essential first step
towards realizing the dream of a resplendent
Philippines in 2020 and beyond.
Such a program could best be spearheaded by the
education, health, labor, communication and social
services sectors, both public and private. It could
be initiated by the Grand Alliance for Philippine
Education for All by the year 2015. It could be an
extension of the present social advocacy program
for Education for All and the Literacy Coordinating
Council’s program for Universalization of Literacy.
Mass media could be effectively harnessed to
drum up support for the development of the
Filipino child as envisioned. Priority must be given
to the underprivileged and deprived sectors of
society without neglecting all the other sectors.
The Philippine Information Agency, a member of
the Literacy Coordinating Council, could provide
leadership in pursuing the advocacy program.
Slogans, which have proved to be effective in
advocacy campaigns, could be developed with
the participation of as many sectors of society as
possible. Print and broadcast media could make
such slogans part of their daily fare as contribution
to the effort. A slogan contest in the most widely
spoken vernaculars, besides English and Filipino,
could be an effective way of winning supporters of
education for all. In fact, an appropriate slogan to
broadcast is “Education for all by all.”
Monitoring and Evaluation of the National
Plan of Action for EFA to Insure Effective
The goals of education and literacy set in the 2015
National Plan of Action for Education for All hew to
the scenario conjured in this paper.
A dynamic monitoring and evaluation system for
BESRA and the 2015 National Plan for EFA will, to a
great measure, insure that its goals and objectives
are achieved. It is assumed that national targets
are set, and these are used as bases for target
setting by the regions which in turn will require that
targets for divisions, districts and schools are set.
The targets will propel the whole country to work
hard to achieve them before 2015.
Periodic monitoring and evaluation vis-à-vis
targets set and use of the results to improve future
performance of the various education systems at
different levels – national, regional, division, district
and school – will insure meeting of the targets and
achievement of goals as scheduled.
It is assumed that the goals of education and
literacy in the National Plan of Action for EFA
2015 hew to the scenario put forth in this paper
for today’s Filipino child in the year 2020. If the
targets of EFA 2015 are not met, then the rosy
scenario for 2020 may very likely not become a
In assessing progress in providing relevant
education for all, the process will doubtless largely
be a numbers game. The assessment will bring out
numbers to represent school participation, dropout,
and repetition rates which will indicate whether
or not targets are met. They will not, however,
reveal whether all the children of school age are
in school effectively learning with a teacher, or
whether or not all illiterates had access to a literacy
class and became functionally literate. Numbers
alone cannot print a complete picture of the status
in universalizing primary education, eradicating
illiteracy, promoting continuing education and
raising the quality of education – the thrusts of
Education for All. The numbers may serve as
indicators of access and equity – two important
dimensions of education for all – but they cannot
effectively tell us whether basic learning needs
have been met and the quality of outcomes as
planned has been achieved.
While a teacher or principal may report that 80
percent of her students have answered correctly
95 percent of the items in an achievement test
in reading or mathematics, we still would not
know whether the learning is relevant, that is,
whether it will help to develop the learners, help
them to continue learning, and improve as they
grow up. Numbers alone cannot tell whether the
education that learners receive is relevant to their
concerns and experiences and their everyday life
which involves health, sanitation, nutrition, work,
environment and family. Here lies the greatest
challenge to those who manage education and
literacy programs in our country.
Statistics alone cannot reveal whether the learners’
unique learning needs as members of society are
being met. It does not suffice that they can read,
write and handle numbers. They need to become
familiar with their culture, their rights as citizens,
and their roles and responsibilities as citizens in
forging sustainable development as well.
To determine whether the basic learning needs of
children in primary school are being met, there is
a need to devise a systematic way of analyzing test
scores and test content. Such needs comprise
learning for survival, full capacity development,
living and working with dignity, participating fully
in development, improving one’s life, making wise
decisions and continuing to learn. The essential
learning tools include literacy, oral expression,
numeracy and problem-solving skills, while the
basic learning content can be categorized as
knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. The scope
of basic learning needs and how they should
be met vary from individual to individual and
change from time to time. Such changes must be
considered in assessing the outcomes of education
Exploring Unbeaten Paths to Enhance
Education and Literacy
If an outcome approach is adopted, it would not
matter where and how the learners acquire what
they are supposed to learn. Learning does not
always happen in the traditional classroom setting.
The rigidities of the formal school tend to exclude
some children from school, especially the poor
ones who have responsibilities at home or on
the farm, the disabled, those who live in remote
villages, those whose parents maintain a nomadic
life, girls whose culture forbids them from learning
under the tutelage of a male teacher, and children
who find school unappealing and prefer to stay
out of it. Alternatives to the formal school must be
adopted so that such children could be provided
education even when separated from the teacher
in time and space. Unless such alternatives are
made available to those who need it, the education
and literacy of disadvantaged Filipino children will
continue to be stymied.
A wealth of experience in some countries
demonstrates how exploration of unbeaten paths
to learning can counteract the rigidities of the
formal school and make it feasible to reach out
to the vast number of unreached school-age
The Southeast Asian Ministries of Education
Organization Center for Innovation and Technology
(SEAMEO-INNOTECH) has demonstrated the
effectiveness of distance education for those
who are unable to have face-to-face contact with
a teacher/trainor. Thailand, India, Indonesia,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia
have demonstrated the effectiveness of distance
education programs in delivering education
to those who are unable to attend school.
Through learning systems that utilize printed
and audiovisual self-instructional materials, a
variety of interesting and user-friendly materials,
and occasional contact sessions with tutors or
facilitators and user-friendly assessment schemes,
they have been able to effect out-of-school
learning. The in-school, off-school approach
introduced in the country in the early eighties
and the IMPACT (Instructional Management by
Parents, Community and Teachers) system which
was designed as a practical intervention to address
the problem of overcrowding in public schools
as well as the lack of teachers, textbooks and
other learning materials are worth considering
for institutionalization to solve the problem of
overcrowding in the 6,000 plus overcrowded public
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
Where teachers are insufficiently trained, distance
education offers an alternative for providing them
with much-needed training or upgrading without
pulling them out of the classroom where they
should be. China trained 1.2 million teachers
through TV broadcasts in six years and the Allama
Iqbal Open University’s Primary Teacher Orientation
Course of Pakistan trained 47,000 teachers in six
There are countless permutations of distance
education practiced worldwide which the
Philippines can approximate so that every
Filipino can have access to at least basic
education. Interactive radio instruction can
help to teach children in schools where teachers
are inadequately trained and provide them
with effective lessons in science, mathematics,
language, environmental education and health.
Multichannel Learning for Enhancing the
Quality of Educational Outcomes
Multichannel learning has emerged as a promising
technology for enhancing the quality of education.
It is designed to integrate formal, nonformal and
informal learning systems.
Multichannel learning advocates contend that the
chances for effective learning are increased when
more than one learning channel is harnessed
and when the education delivery system is well
planned. This has been confirmed by research on
the psychology of learning.
Multichannel learning has great potential for
contributing to sustainable human development
since it provides ample opportunities for learners
to acquire desired knowledge, skills, values and
attitudes through meaningful experiences in the
formal (the first channel), nonformal (the second
channel) and informal (the third channel) learning
systems. In such an approach, a variety of hard
and soft educational technologies ranging from
low to high technology and low touch to high touch
technology are employed depending upon their
appropriateness and affordability.
Multichannel learning functions like various
streams that connect learners with sources of
knowledge, skills and information in the school,
home, community and beyond. The channels may
be two or all of the learning systems interlinked to
provide rich opportunities for effective experiential
learning. These channels can link learners with
teachers near and far, other learners and other
mediators of learning such as instructional
materials, family and community members and
other delivery services for knowledge, information
and skills,.
Some learning channels may be the very same
media used in distance education, e.g., radio,
video, TV, film and print materials. These channels
constitute what multimedia advocates place under
the third channel of learning (informal education)
which has been defined as “planned but informal
learning activities for meeting basic learning
needs” (Mayo and Chieuw, 1993).
Multi-channel learning is a new term, but its
antecedents are found in the long-recognized
merit of tearing down the wall between formal and
nonformal education. It advocates a paradigm shift
from heavy reliance on the formal system to the
full integration of formal, nonformal and informal
education for greater learning effectiveness.
Ineffective learning in the formal school as well
as in literacy classes stems from instruction that
continues to rely exclusively or predominantly on a
mono-channel of learning, oblivious of the fact that
learners have different learning styles and varied
capacities for learning. Such obstacles to learning
could be overcome by integrating and diversifying
learning channels through interactive technologies
in which interaction moves from the teacher or
facilitator to the learner, learner to learner, learner
to materials and other media or influences such
as members of the family, community, resource
person and community activities.
Other ways of diversifying and integrating learning
channels include introduction of games, role play
and simulation, group work, buzz groups, story
telling and drama, interaction with family and
other community members, field trips, and use of
relevant materials and visual aids. These would be
applicable to any level of education in the country.
Strengthen and coordinate existing homeschool-community support services.
Promote two-way communication between
the school and the family through school/
student programs.
Involve parents in instructional support
roles in school as well as outside it and
show appreciation for their involvement.
Harness family and community resources
to support the school program and
activities through known effective
Support parents as decision makers for
their children’s education.
Provide training in effective parenting.
Effective School and Family Partnership:
the Desideratum
The family influences and is influenced by the
development processes that are transforming the
world’s economic, social, cultural and political
landscape. As the basic unit of society, the family
constitutes a critical policy concern.
The World Declaration on Education for All suggests
that government should facilitate the integration of
the children’s learning environment to include
community learning programs, thus adopting the
idea that a significant part of learning should be
cross-generational if communities are to meet
the challenge of a rapidly changing world. This
confirms the desirability of developing school and
family partnerships through the curriculum.
Education, as a key variable in the social and
economic development processes, must be alert
in developing school-family partnerships which
can enhance desirable educational outcomes
and in turn strengthen the family. It must support
the family as a social unit, promote accurate
understanding of family issues especially those
that promote sustainable human development,
and carry out activities to address such issues and
create institutional capabilities for implementing
changes calculated to strengthen the family. The
following recommendations based on research
results on school effectiveness vis-à-vis school and
family relationships may be worth considering by
school administrators and teachers:
Develop child-parent cooperation and
foster conditions in the home that
support learning through participation of
parents in school activities in and out of
the classroom.
Get families to teach and monitor
learners at home by making them familiar
with effective nonformal education
strategies and the content of the
In crafting a program for effective school-family
partnership, it is important to remember that
students provide the raison d’être of schools. Their
wholesome and sustainable development is central
to teaching and the curriculum. Their families
constitute a valuable resource that can be tapped
for education and literacy. The stronger the bonds
between the school and the family, the greater is
the likelihood that education from such partnership
will be meaningful to the learner.
Curriculum Reegineering
Reegineering of the curricula for the children today
who will be the architects and builders of Philippine
society in 2020 and beyond should benefit from the
synergistic efforts of a multisectoral team. Such
a team will include a curriculum development
planner, subject specialists, a teacher, a school
administrator, a parent and representatives of
the major sectors of society. Since education is a
major factor in personal and national development,
the revision of the curricula to attune it to present
and emerging needs cannot be left to the
education sector alone.
Life in the year 2020 and beyond will require
that Filipinos acquire not just basic literacy in
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
letters and numbers but higher types of literacy
as well. They will need social, cultural, political,
environmental, scientific and technological literacy
in order to fare well in their rapidly changing
milieu. It will be necessary for curriculum
planners in all four levels of education (pre-school,
primary, secondary and tertiary) to collaborate
in developing a learning continuum in which one
level systematically builds on what is learned at a
previous level. Sustainable human development
would require that those who develop curricula for
each level of education be in close communication
and collaboration with each other so that the
curriculum for the Filipino child can be well-planned
and well-focused on the scenario.
Lifelong learning – a thrust of the program for
education for all – needs to be carefully worked
into the curriculum at all levels of education. At
the lower levels, training in how to learn and how to
continue learning must receive emphasis to insure
that the Filipino will not only continue learning upon
leaving school but also can learn through distance
and other learning strategies. Modern information
technology will make distance education more and
more available to all. The various technologies
will have the advantage of further enhancing
education and literacy at the learners’ own pace.
This will insure that he/she will continue learning
throughout life which is the desideratum.
In reengineering the curricula for all levels
of education, attention must be given to the
development of values and skills that would insure
that the Filipino becomes a world- class citizen as
earlier described.
Teachers and Education Officials:
Reinvigoration and Renewal
There will be need to refer to the values, skills
and competencies mentioned in the definition
of functional literacy and in the sections on the
scenario of today’s Filipino child in the year 2020
and beyond to gain an idea of what values and
skills would need to be integrated and emphasized
in the curriculum. The value of risk taking, which is
essential in developing entrepreneurship, creativity
and inventiveness, productive use of leisure,
teamwork, responsible freedom, nationalism,
critical and creative thinking and problem-solving
skills, deserves emphasis in the curriculum. An
effective step to take, in determining whether the
curriculum developed for the Filipino children today
to prepare them for the roles they are expected
to play in society in the year 2020 and beyond
is appropriate and responsive to their needs, is
to check it against the definition of functional
literacy and the description of an educated Filipino
and Child 21 presented in the first part of this
paper. Curriculum and instruction will need to
undergo continuing evaluation and adjustment to
the emerging needs of the Filipino to insure that
the new generation of Filipinos will be adequately
equipped to assure a resplendent future for the
Along with the reengineering of curricula and
instructional systems should be the continuing
monitoring and evaluation of BESRA, particularly
the renewal of the teaching and school
management staff’s competencies.
As the curricula and instructional system continues
to be adjusted to the learning needs of the
Filipino child as he/she matures, teachers and
school managers will need to be correspondingly
renewed in knowledge, skills, values and
attitudes. Teachers will need help to deepen their
commitment to the sustainable development of
the Filipino child, and school managers will need
to be retrained in the ways of transformational
leadership in order to achieve greater synergy
among their staff. Dynamism should define
the process of reinvigorating and renewing the
teacher and school managers as professionals.
Since change is inevitable, they should be open
to desired change. They should not hesitate to
explore unbeaten paths to enhance the outcomes
of educational efforts.
The most effective way of developing desirable
values among the young is to demonstrate such
values in the teachers’ and school managers’
everyday behavior. If children have to be taught
the value of being punctual, then their teachers
and school heads should make it a point to report
to work on time. If they are to be taught to protect,
sustain and improve their environment, then the
school and its premises must not only be clean
at all times but also be attractive. If they are to
be taught to be responsible, then lessons and
activities in school should provide opportunities
for demonstrating the admirable trait of being
responsible. It is not effective to just talk about
desirable traits. It is effective to provide situations
for such traits to be demonstrated in everyday life.
The provision of salary rates that will not only
insure a decent life for teachers and school
managers but also attract worthy and competent
individuals to the profession would be a necessary
step towards developing highly motivated,
competent and committed teaching and school
management staffs.
Scenario: If EFA 2015 and BESRA Succeed
By the year 2020 and beyond, if the goals of
Philippines 2020 are achieved, the country would
be a land of abundance where every man, woman
and child enjoys three nutritious meals a day, has
decent housing, and enjoys easy access to modern
transportation and communication facilities as
well as other basic services. Malnutrition, water
shortage and power outages are things of the past,
for the government can then adequately provide
for basic services as citizens honestly and regularly
pay their taxes.
Since education and literacy targets have been
met, every Filipino has acquired at least primary
and secondary education and very likely, higher
education. The workplace is staffed with skilled
manpower as a consequence of the continuously
upgraded education and training programs
mounted through the years. Both blue and white
collar workers possess the work ethic that is the
sine qua non for efficiency and effectiveness in
the work place. Agriculture and industry yield
maximum productivity and bring about a better
quality of life for the people. Street children no
longer exist because educational services are
adequate and parents can afford to send their
children to school. The people are highly literate.
Modern information technology is widely employed
in both urban and rural areas, so the Filipino can
easily access information and utilize it in decision
making wherever he/she is. The young as well as
adults continue to learn from mass media and from
distance education programs which are available
in both the city and rural areas. As a consequence,
the Filipino in the year 2020 and beyond is well
informed, global in outlook and capable of using
information in decision making. As a critical
thinker, he/she chooses his/her leaders wisely,
refrains from selling his/her vote and willingly
participates in political/governmental affairs. Gone
is his/her feeling of helplessness and despair, for
his/her problem-solving skills have empowered
him/her to improve his/her situation in life.
In the year 2020 and beyond, the atmosphere
would be empty of pollutants, the mountains will
be verdant with thick forests and the Pasig River
and other waterways would be clear and teeming
with fish as efforts to preserve and develop the
environment have brought about positive results.
The country would then be a tourists’ haven
because, unlike in the past, it would now be safe
to roam the streets even at night. Criminality has
been curbed and the country’s natural beauty has
been restored.
In spite of modernization, the Filipino in the
year 2020 and beyond still retains the values of
hospitality, filial love, respect for women and elders,
cooperation, concern for others and respect for
law and authority. He/she is able to reconcile
spiritualism with science and technology and is
self-reliant and a risk taker. He/she is proud of
his/her country and of its cultural heritage and its
people and at the same time is global in outlook.
These are indications that the Filipino child has
developed into the kind of human person, citizen
and productive individual earlier envisioned. If
the Filipino dream has been realized, it can be
attributed to the people. The children today will
grow and develop and build and nurture the future
of Philippine society. Thus, it behooves every
Filipino to participate actively in the development
of the Filipino child as a measure to achieve
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
Expand and improve comprehensive
early childhood care and education
especially for the most vulnerable and
disadvantaged children.
Ensure that by 2015, all children,
particularly girls, children in different
circumstances and those belonging
to ethnic minorities, have access to
complete, free and compulsory education
of good quality,
Achieve 50 percent improvement in
levels of adult literacy by the year 2015
especially for women and equitable
access to appropriate learning and life
skills programs.
It must be mentioned that the EFA plan is grounded
on the Dakar Framework of Action which the
Philippines, as a member of the United Nations
(UN), adopted in the year 2000 along with other UN
member countries.
Eliminate gender disparities in primary
and secondary education by 2015 with
a focus on insuring girls’ full and equal
access to and achievement in basic
education of good quality.
The Dakar Framework for Action, specifically the
World Declaration on Education for All, documents
the rights of every child, youth and adult “to benefit
from education that will meet their basic learning
needs (BLN) including the full development of their
Improve every aspect of the quality of
education and insure their excellence so
that recognized and measurable learning
outcomes are achieved by all especially in
literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
sustainable human development. In contributing
to this effort, let us derive inspiration from former
President Ramos who said, “Our children should
not pay for what we now enjoy, rather they should
enjoy what we now pay for.”
Scenario: If EFA 2015 and BESRA Fail
It was earlier indicated that EFA 2015, with the
support of its Grand Alliance and BESRA, holds
promise of developing today’s children in such a
way that they will become assets to society in 2020
and beyond. This section will sketch a picture of
Philippine society in 2020 and beyond should such
gargantuan plans and efforts to provide good basic
education to all children fail.
The Basic Learning Needs (BLN) consists of the
essential learning tools (literacy, numeracy, oral
expression and problem solving) and learning
content (knowledge, skills and attitudes) that
human beings need in order to survive, develop
their capacities, live and work with dignity,
participate fully in development, improve the quality
of their life, make informed decisions and continue
learning. The BLN hews to the LCC definition of
functional literacy cited earlier.
Schools or formal education, nonformal education
and alternative learning schemes are expected to
meet the same learning needs. The Philippines,
together with the participating countries in the
World Education for All Forum in Dakar, Senegal in
2000, committed to pursue the following goals of
Education for All programs:
The goals indicate that the central goal of EFA
2015 is to provide basic competencies to all
children in order to achieve functional literacy and
consequently prepare them to comfortably take
their place in society.
What would happen if BESRA and consequently
EFA 2015 fail? What would Philippine society be
like in 2020 and beyond if the EFA goals are not
Here is a scenario of such an unfortunate situation
which we must all work hard to prevent from
happening, if we dream of a resplendent future for
our country in 2020 and beyond.
Should BESRA fail to make possible the attainment
of EFA goals, our dream of a resplendent Philippine
society in 2020 and beyond will likely fleet away.
Filipino citizens to some extent shall be wanting
in self-confidence to face an uncertain future
as a consequence of the failure of the school,
family and social and other government
institutions to help meet their basic learning
needs and fully develop their personality. They
generally have not fully shaken off their feeling
of inferiority when interacting with foreigners
and distinguished individuals because of their
unproductive recollection of past failures on
account of inadequate skills and knowledge. Also,
the awareness that their country has been listed
among the most corrupt in the world has largely
exacerbated their feeling of inferiority. Their failure
to acquire higher and more cognitive skills and
develop flexibility and adaptability has made it
difficult for them to continue learning throughout
A large segment of the population of graduates of
high school and higher education institutions are
either unemployed or underemployed because
the government has failed to fulfill its promise of
creating enough jobs for its people. While there
are some good jobs available, not many people
possess the special skills that they require. The
absence of proper career guidance prior to
graduation from high school and college accounts
for the proclivity for white collar jobs. College
graduates unable to find employment in the country
are constrained to seek employment overseas
and usually are overqualified for the jobs they get.
Thus, a teacher may be employed as a domestic
worker in Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai. It is
not uncommon to find a medical doctor working
as a nurse in the U.S.A, Canada or England, a
commerce graduate working as a driver in the
Middle East. The paucity of appropriate jobs for the
country’s many degree holders is a consequence of
its sluggish development.
Poverty, malnutrition and poor health are
commonplace especially in the urban slums and
in underdeveloped sites in the countryside. The
city and provincial jails are literally bursting in
the seams because abject poverty has driven
many indigent people to steal, kill and commit
crimes such as drug pushing, robbery, estafa and
kidnapping for ransom.
Street children roam the streets in cities begging
for alms, and street dwellers mar the beauty of
major thoroughfares in cities and large towns
begging for alms and positioning their push
carts, which serve as their homes, where traffic
is unusually heavy and where they have ample
opportunity for selling their wares or begging.
The free wards of hospitals are often crowded
because of the high incidence of sickness among
the poor. While the rich have apparently set their
hearts on having small families, the poor have
maximally contributed to a galloping population
growth rate which has made it impossible for
government to adequately provide budgetary
support for education, health and sanitation for all.
Inefficiency of most government workers has
exacerbated the misery of the poorer sections of
the population. When a flood occurs, or strong
winds threaten the shacks of the poor, they
are forced to evacuate to the public school in
their community. Government is usually slow in
providing assistance to make them warm and
secure in the evacuation center because it is often
short of resources.
Education still claims the largest share in the
national budget, yet many of the public schools
are still under-equipped and overcrowded because
the government cannot as yet adequately provide
sufficient funds for basic education on account
of the country’s galloping population growth rate.
Scant and outmoded educational resources have
impeded the improvement of learning outcomes
of Filipino children and limited the outreach of
schools in hard-to-reach areas. A significant
portion of the disadvantaged population – nomadic
tribes, indigenous people, those with disabilities
and those who live far from the schools – have yet
to enjoy the blessings of basic education.
The dream of a resplendent future for the
Philippines in the year 2020 and beyond has
not been realized in spite of Projects BESRA and
EFA 2015. This may be attributed to weak social
advocacy for EFA, failure to maintain the continued
support of business and the community for EFA,
lack of determination to succeed and absence of
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
dynamism on the part of the leaders at different
levels (national, regional, division, city/municipality
and barangay), inadequate fund support, weak
monitoring and evaluation of programs, inefficiency
of the school systems, ineffective quality assurance
efforts, the reluctance of some people involved in
education to welcome change and innovation, and
the waning support of the Grand Alliance for EFA
Below are suggestions for legislative options that
Congress may wish to consider for maximizing its
contribution to the development of Filipino children
whom our greatest hero, Jose Rizal, described as
the “hope of our fatherland.”
Enact a law that will ensure that every
appointee to the position of Secretary of
Education shall serve for at least eight
years to ensure continuity of leadership
in raising the quality of education. He/
she shall be required to submit an annual
report on progress vis-à-vis legitimate
goals and objectives.
Put more teeth in the compulsory primary
education law so that parents will realize
their important responsibility to the
State and to their children to send them
to school and keep them there until
they acquire primary and secondary
Let this grim scenario convey the need for
effective social advocacy for any plan or effort
to provide education envisioned to equip
learners for improving the quality of their lives
and, consequently, that of society and for their
important role of nation building, for a nation can
be as good only as its people.
Some Legislative and Multi-Sectoral Policy
and Program Options
The scenario earlier drawn up for a situation in
which Education for All 2015 (EFA 2015) and
Basic Education Reform Agenda (BESRA) fail calls
attention to the need for the collaborative efforts
of all sectors of Philippine society – the national
and local governments, Congress, non-government
organizations, the business sector and all of civil
society – to support basic education, the necessary
ingredient for developing the children and youth
into good Filipino citizens. This gargantuan
responsibility should not be the DepEd’s alone. All
of society must be actively involved in it if today’s
children are expected to be the architects and
builders of Philippine society in 2020 and beyond.
Multi-sectoral collaboration in the direction of the
goals and targets of education and literacy may
be realized to some extent through an effective
social advocacy program and strong education
leadership, but unless there is well-intentioned
national policy and legislative support, it may not
be possible to maximize performance towards
educational goals set. Functional literacy for
all would continue to be a moving target and,
consequently, the full development of the citizenry
and ultimately the Philippines may remain just a
rosy dream.
One form of punishment for law evaders
who cannot afford to pay a fine may be
provision of community service, such as
repairing roads, beautifying/ cleaning a
public place, school ground improvement,
repairing government buildings, garbage
collection/ disposal, etc.
Enact a law to integrate early childhood
education with primary school education
to insure that every child will be better
prepared for basic education.
Provide adequate funding for the
alternative learning system (ALS) so that
it can provide nonformal education to
the large number of school dropouts,
individuals who never had the opportunity
for schooling for various reasons, such
as distance of home from school, illness,
physical disability, poverty, hazards
caused by man and nature, and unmet
special needs.
Provide a special budget that will allow
the alternative learning system to upgrade
its program, develop instructional and
test materials, and make it possible to
increase the frequency of administering
the accreditation and equivalency
examination until such time that it will
be possible to accommodate walk-in
examinees in testing centers at any time
of the year.
Promulgate a population program that will
be acceptable to all to ensure a school
population size which the government
can adequately support.
Provide funding support for establishing
and expanding distance learning
programs in the primary and secondary
schools to broaden opportunities for
more effective learning and increasing
participation rates.
Tighten censorship of programs on radio,
TV and film to insure that the young do
not get exposed to programs inimical to
the development of desirable values.
Eliminate programs that glorify criminals
and reward immoral behavior, corruption,
and destruction of the environment, and
show disloyalty to the country.
Allocate a larger budget for education,
one that approximates the budgets
of Southeast Asian countries whose
students fare extremely well at home
and in international examinations, such
as Malaysia and Singapore which are
provided adequate fund support for basic
Restore seventh grade in the elementary
school system to raise the quality of
educational achievement of Filipino
learners who would then be better
prepared for high school
Make tax-deductible all business and
private sector contributions for improving
basic education.
Options for DepEd and other Members of the
Grand Alliance for EFA 2015
Strengthen school-community
organizations in order to actively
involve all parents and guardians in
school improvement and in raising the
achievement level of learners.
Get the whole country involved in
developing today’s children into worldclass citizens appreciative of their culture
and capable of using their functional
literacy skills to improve the quality of
their life and that of society through
the efforts of all government sectors.
Employ innovative ways of winning greater
support of all for education.
Develop a strategic communication plan
to support a five-year national functional
literacy campaign. This may be assigned
to the Literacy Coordinating Council,
which is attached to the Department of
Education. The Philippine Information
Agency, a member of the Council, may
provide leadership in its implementation.
Actively promote multichannel learning
to enhance optimum learning of good
quality by integrating formal, nonformal
and informal ways of teaching. Provide
teachers and school managers effective
training in multichannel learning
Install an effective monitoring and
evaluation system that will periodically
report to the people progress in attaining
the goals of EFA 2015 and BESRA.
Devise easy-to-read news items to inform
the people about the about progress in
providing basic education to all. They
must be brief and written simply in a
manner that will whet the interest of
the people to read them and appreciate
being informed about developments in
Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
Promote strong and effective schoolfamily-community partnerships to
support the government’s Education
for All program in order to achieve its
thrust of raising the country’s literacy
rate by 50 percent by the year 200. This
may be a cooperative endeavor of the
Department of Education and the Literacy
Coordinating Council.
Get the Literacy Coordinating Council,
which is attached to the DepEd, to
coordinate with the League of Cities
of the Philippines and the League of
Municipalities of the Philippines, and
insure that they will actively support
the goals of the Education for All (EFA)
2015 National Action Plan and the LCC
campaign for universalizing literacy.
Convince the local governments to
use their internal revenue allotment
for supporting projects under EFA and
The mayors, barangay chairmen and councilors
are in a strategic position to support the goals
of EFA and the Literacy Coordinating Council’s
goal of increasing the literacy rate of Filipinos
by 50 percent in the year 2015 – a millennium
development goal to which the Philippines
is committed. A specific advocacy program
addressed to them will very likely make them
realize how important their role is in developing
our children into potential builders of a progressive
Give prestigious recognition to teachers,
school officials, and other responsibility
bearers who have done remarkable work
in raising learner participation rates and
for raising the quality of educational
outputs of a school, division or region or
who have made disadvantaged groups
of learners (e.g., indigenous people, the
handicapped, isolated groups of learners,
and learners with special problems)
functionally literate.
The progress of the Philippines from its present
third world status to a developed nation in 2020
and beyond lies in how well we nurture our children
today into functionally literate citizens who are
well equipped to live and work as human persons,
capable of making critical and informed decisions,
and functioning effectively in society within the
context of their environment and of the wider
community in order to improve the quality not only
of their lives but also that of our society. Such
a gargantuan task deserves the wholehearted
support not only of government functionaries but of
all country-loving Filipinos as well.
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Developing the Filipino Child for 2020 and Beyond:
Education and Literacy
The Role of Social Protection
in Upholding Child Rights
By Alicia R. Bala
Existing and emerging threats to children’s rights
cannot be separated from social welfare and
development issues facing the country today. The
Social Welfare and Development (SWD) section
of Megatrends 1 has shown us how macro-level
phenomena such as rapid advancement in
Internet and mobile technology, growth in the
tourism industry, massive labor migration, and
the increasing poverty incidence rates amidst
economic gains have affected children the most.
And these macro-level phenomena, which were
observed in Megatrends 1, are still true today.
Moreover, these trends have resulted in emerging
threats to children’s rights that require not just
interventions from the SWD services alone, but
convergent action involving government’s various
social protection programs as well as assistance
from civil society and the private sector
Social Welfare Trends and
Emerging Threats
A. Prevalence of Poverty and
Socioeconomic Insecurity
Eradicating poverty continues to be one of the
country’s biggest challenges. The 2007 Census of
Population identified about 1.7 million households
as poor. Moreover, latest poverty statistics reflect
that the country’s poverty incidence rate among
families has increased from 24.4 percent in
2003 to 26.9 percent in 2006, while the poverty
incidence among the population also rose during
the same period from 30.0 percent to 32.9
percent. Also for the same period, the magnitude
of poor families rose from 4.0 million to 4.7 million
families while the magnitude of poor population
increased from 23.8 million to 27.6 million
According to the 2006 Official Poverty Statistics for
the Basic Sectors, there is also a rise in poverty
incidence among all basic sectors with fisherfolk
(from 43.6% to 49.9%), farmers (from 42.4%
to 44.0%) and children (from 38.8% to 40. 8%)
comprising the top three sectors. Also, children,
women and urban poor accounted for the largest
number of poor population at 14.4 million, 12.8
million and 6.9 million, respectively.1 This signifies
that poverty impacts on children the most since
it is one of the sectors with the highest poverty
incidence and accounts for one of the highest
magnitude of poor population.
B. The Child Development Index
The 2006 Child Development Index (CDI) shows
that the country’s achievement in children’s
development slightly deteriorated by 0.003 index
points between the years 2000 and 2003, and
by 0.050 index points between 2003 and 2006.
This means that the human development of the
country’s children has been worsening since the
year 2000. (See Table 1.)
Further, the number of regions that rated high in
CDI continually decreased between the period
2000 and 2006. (See Table 2.)
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Table 1. Child Development Index with Components
Child Development
Child Health Index
Child Education
Quality of Life
Table 2. Number of Regions with Low, Medium and High CDI (CY 2000 to CY 2006)
Total Regions
The 2008 Implementation Report on the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC) on the Sale of Child, Child Prostitution
and Child Pornography notes that poverty has
pushed millions of Filipino workers to leave their
families in pursuit of substandard but better-paying
jobs overseas. Several studies have enumerated
the cost of migration on children left behind.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) - Abstract of Existing Studies on the
Impact of Migration on Filipino Children Left
Behind, though there are conflicting reports as to
the effects of migration on the psychosocial and
emotional well-being of children, what is consistent
is that those children whose mothers had migrated
expressed lower levels of happiness, seem to have
more problems, are inclined to be more angry,
confused, apathetic and more afraid than other
children, and felt neglected or abandoned, lonely,
unloved, unfeeling, worried and different from other
children. They display poorer social adjustment
and experience delayed social and psychological
development. As a result, maternal absence could
C. Pursuit of Overseas Work
be most disruptive and problematic in the lives of
these children. 2
Threats of overseas migration to the stability of the
family include: 1) separation of family members
which disregards the ideal or the value of close
family ties, 2) increasing instances of marital
conflict and breakdown of marital relations due to
lack of communication and prolonged separation,
3) incidence of substance abuse, delinquency,
early pregnancies and child abuse among children
of migrant workers, 4) adherence to materialistic
orientation, over-dependence on money and other
material presents from overseas, 5) children are
socialized to believe that overseas migration is
the only solution to improve their lives, 6) changes
in gender roles and increasing number of singleparent households, which is a deviation from
the ideal setup of a family where both parents
are present, 7) relations among relatives and
community are also affected as families of migrant
workers are being sought by relatives for financial
help and also become subject of gossip concerning
affairs of separated spouses.3
Violence Against Children
In Schools4
A study on child abuse and discipline by the
Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) in
collaboration with UNICEF and the Philippine
Women’s University highlights that incidence
of violence is usually experienced by children
through corporal punishment. Forms of
violence such as spanking, beating, pinching
or slapping are tolerated and “socialized” as
acceptable ways of disciplining children. Other
than that, cursing and shouting at a child are
seen as “natural reactions” to situations or
normal expressions of anger. Indeed, verbal
abuse, which also includes being ridiculed,
teased, or humiliated, is the most prevalent
form of violence experienced by children in
all school levels. The “silent treatment” or
not being spoken to is not at all perceived
as emotional abuse. Male children are most
likely to experience physical violence than
female children. The perpetrators of such acts
or omissions are no less than the children’s
peers or their immediate mentors.
Other key findings show that at least 40
percent of children in Grades 1-3 and 70
percent in both Grades 4-6 and high school
have experienced violence of some form in
school. The degree or gravity and incidence
of abuse increase as a child graduates from
one level to the next. Both male and female
children experience verbal sexual harassment.
Incidence of violence is higher in urban than
in rural areas. Many acts of violence among
children such as bullying are perceived as
petty quarrels.
The Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists of the
Philippines, Inc. (CAPPI) has estimated that
between 500 to 800 child abuse cases are
committed by teachers each year. According
to the 2006 CAPPI Survey, 50 percent of
perpetrators of child abuse in the school
setting are committed by teachers, while a few
involved janitors, bus drivers and other school
The Service Manual for Teachers provides that
a teacher may be dismissed on the grounds
of slapping, jerking or pushing a student,
imposing tasks as penalty, and meting out
cruel and unusual punishment to any student.
Sadly, addressing complaints on violence
against children is vulnerable to the personal
biases and arbitrary judgment of people in
charge because most public schools do not
follow the standard way of resolving them. This
results in children’s distrust of the process. In
addition, adults make allowances for corporal
punishment as a disciplinary measure as long
as it does not entail any wounding or bruises.
In Homes 6
The above findings echo the research
conducted by Save the Children-Sweden
entitled Comparative Research on the
Physical and Emotional Punishment of
Children (2005) and participated in by eight
countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Region including the Philippines. It shows
that methods of punishment are very similar
across the region, i.e., spanking, hitting with
specific objects like stick or belt, punching,
kicking, and verbal assault. Breaking house
rules, misdemeanors and misbehaving, and
failure to do house chores or assigned tasks
are the common causes given why children
are punished.
In both settings, participating children accept
these physical and verbal forms of violence
as part of disciplining. However, children also
prefer a more positive form of discipline such
as being talked to, explaining nicely, giving
advice, teaching what is good, understanding
and forgiving, caring for and loving the child,
saying sorry, and praising.
While Republic Act 7610 or the Special
Protection of Children Against Abuse,
Exploitation and Discrimination Act indicates
that corporal punishment is a form of child
abuse, there is yet no law prohibiting corporal
punishment in the homes, schools, and
other institutional settings. Several existing
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Philippine laws related to discipline and
punishment of children within the family
were reviewed and analyzed by Save the
Children-UK in 2006. It was discovered that
these provisions are too general and vague
for parents to be guided properly in balancing
their right to discipline their children and
their duty to protect the physical and human
integrity of children.
E. Child Labor
Based on case studies conducted by UNICEF
in 2001, child victims of trafficking were found
to be predominantly young girls between 14-17
years old who had been deceived by recruiters
with promises of better opportunities to earn.
Children in prostitution are enticed because
they want to augment family income, come
from unstable family relationships, or are
pressured by their own peers. Based on a
survey done in 2004, most documented cases
of child pornography have been initiated by
foreigners with Filipino accomplices.8
In the 2001 Philippine Survey on Working Children,
16.2 percent of children 5-17 years old were
shown to be economically active. They are mostly
male with median age between 10-17 years old,
have elementary school education and are usually
based in the rural areas. Majority of these children
are laborers and unskilled workers engaged in
agriculture on seasonal basis and are unpaid in
their own household-operated farm or business.
A quarter of these working children worked in the
evening or during night, and about 60 percent of
them are working in unsafe environments—i.e.,
exposed to physical, chemical or biological hazards.
According to Human Rights Information and
Documentation System (HURIDOCS) data and
findings of a study done by Coalition Against
Trafficking of Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP),
victims of trafficking and prostitution reached
287 between June 2006 and May 2007 alone.
Of this number, 43.6 percent with known
birth date are minors at the time of their
victimization, with a 10-year-old girl as the
youngest. Those who are minor-looking refuse
to reveal their real age for fear that their
parents who induced them into prostitution
might be prosecuted.9
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of
Child Trafficking and Children in Prostitution
While the exact figures of child victims of
trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography
have not been established, the Department of
Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has
recorded 3,231 cases of child abuse in 2008,
wherein 1,322 were sexually abused and
exploited, and 133 children were victims of
illegal recruitment, child labor and trafficking.6
Meanwhile, the 2004 figures of the Child
Protection Unit (CPU) Network reveal that there
is an increase in the number of child abuse
cases handled by members of CPU from 2004
to 2006, as shown in the following: 3,797
cases in 2004, 4,034 cases in 2005, and
4,120 cases in 2006. Sexual abuse comprises
70 percent of the total reported cases during
this period.7
Child Pornography
The wide reach of Internet and mobile
technology, while linking OFWs to their families
across the globe, has also resulted in the
proliferation of cyber-pornography, including
child pornography. There are even big-time
publishers of pornographic magazines and
tabloids that feature models in their teens.10
But despite these hurdles, the country has
continued to be vigilant in its efforts to
protect children. Notably, in 2004, a members
of a syndicate involved in the country’s
largest case of child pornography, which
had victimized at least 70 children, were
Effects on child victims may include
overwhelming feelings of self-blame and
shame, being haunted by their experience,
incapacity to forge relationships with others,
maladjustment, instability, and emotional
damage that manifests in depression, low selfesteem, guilt, psychiatric illness or disturbed
behavior. They may also endure abusive
relationships, blame themselves for their
problems, and feel powerless to take action
and improve their lives. 12
Children of well-to-do families are as
vulnerable as poor children to be victims of
pornography because these children may be
exposed to pornographic materials, including
child pornography, through the Internet. These
pornographic materials are also sometimes
sold openly in the streets. This raises a
concern over potentially desensitizing children
into believing that pornography is normal.13
According to the University of the Philippines
Center for Integrative Studies (UP-CIDS) report
on Child Pornography in the Philippines (2005)
funded by UNICEF, challenges that need to be
hurdled in combating child pornography are
the following:
• Child pornography is inadequately
understood and is a covert issue that
pictures naked children as harmless
and inoffensive, and victims of such
exploitation remain hidden unless
Difficulty in identifying the victims,
perpetrators and clients of child
Refusal of Internet service providers
(ISPs) and credit card companies to
Need for international cooperation;
Confusion in the separation between art,
media and child pornography; and
Lapses in law enforcement and
weaknesses of the justice system
G. Street Children
Street children in the Philippines are estimated to
be 246,000 according to a UNICEF study in 2001.
About 50,000 of them are considered “highly
visible street children,” who are mostly on the
streets, have little or no family contacts, and are
highly vulnerable to risks. More than 67 percent
of these kids are male, averaging 14.6 years old.
All are living in poverty and malnourished, with
little education and high dropout rates. Survival
strategies of these children include: begging;
selling newspapers, cigarettes, flowers and chewing
gum; washing and watching cars; shining shoes;
carrying bags for grocery- and market-goers;
scavenging for recyclable materials’ and even
pickpocketing, snatching and involvement in drug
pushing and prostitution.14
Difficulty in determining the age of
child victims especially those who have
reached physical maturity;
Advancement in technology contributes to
the difficulty in defining child pornography
and its various forms;
Stairway Foundation has categorized street
children as follows: a) children on the streets –
those working on the streets but do not live there,
b) children of the streets – those that make the
streets their home and unite with other fellow
street children as family, though some may still
have contacts with their own families, and c)
completely abandoned children – those with no
family ties and are entirely on their own.15
Lack of knowledge and access in the use
of technology;
Association of child pornography with
other forms of sexual exploitation;
Deceptive statistics on child pornography;
Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL)
Offenses against property seem to be most
dominant among the types of offenses committed
by CICL. This may be attributed to “survival
offending,” i.e., committing a violation or offense
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
violations especially those suspected of giving
support to armed groups and whose parents
and siblings are suspected members of
insurgent or rebel groups.
while in the process of carrying out one’s livelihood
or as an act of survival.16
Ninety percent (90%) of CICL are mostly male
between 14 to 17 years old and come from poor
families. Philippine data indicate that many CICL
reached elementary schooling and majority of
them are out-of-school at the time they were
apprehended. Loss of interest in schooling has
been identified as the primary reason for dropping
out of school, next only to financial difficulties.17
As of 2008, a total of 269 CIAC cases have
been reported since 1989. Based on these
figures, the Inter-Agency Committee on CIAC
prepared a CIAC profile by region, year, sex,
and educational attainment.
Among the risk factors identified as contributing to
delinquency in the Alampay (2005) study are: 1)
inadequate and hostile parenting practices, 2) child
maltreatment and abuse, 3) family stressors such
as poverty, unemployment and marital conflict,
and 4) family structure and demographics. In
local studies, families of CICL are characterized by
conflict, maltreatment, neglect and disorganization.
Eighty percent (80%) of those studied reported to
have experienced violence and abuse in the hands
of their parents.
As of December 2008, there was a total of 4,392
CICL recorded by JJWC. Out of this number, 2,355
are under the care of the DSWD. Absence of local
Youth Homes can be cited as reason for continued
presence of CICL in jails. However, the Bureau of
Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) ensures
that CICL not yet committed to DSWD centers are
separated from adult offenders.
Children in Situations of Emergency
Children in Armed Conflict (CIAC)18
About 30,000 to 50,000 children have
been displaced by armed conflict every year
during the last four years. They have lost
their support systems and security of normal
family and community relationships, are
cut off from familiar surroundings, suffer
serious psychosocial stress, experience
school disruption, and usually seek refuge
in overcrowded evacuation centers where
adequate health and water sanitation
services are limited. Children in conflict areas
also experience the threat of human rights
Child Victims of Disaster
Natural disasters such as typhoons disrupt
the normal day-to-day activities of children
such as school attendance and the security
of a home. This is due to destroyed houses
and facilities and the use of school buildings
as evacuation centers by most LGUs during
disaster operation. Also, inadequate health
and water sanitation services pose health
risks to children, and floods may induce waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera,
amoebiasis, dysentery, and leptospirosis.
Added to these is the trauma of losing a home
and sometimes even a family member which
is experienced by children during these events.
J. Children with Disabilities 19
Based on the World Health Organization
(WHO) assumption that 10 percent of every
country’s given population has some form of
disability, the National Council for Disability
Affairs (NCDA) has estimated about eight
million Filipinos with disabilities. However,
according to the 2000 Census of Population
and Housing, there were only 948,098
persons with disabilities or a mere 1.23
percent of the population (75.3 million)
that same year. Seventy percent (70%) of
persons with disabilities were found in rural
and remote areas of the country. Out of that
number, 191,680 were children 18 years old
and below with 103,435 males and 88,245
females. Table 3 shows the distribution of
children with disabilities by age group and type
of disability.
Table 3. Children with Disabilities by Age Group and Type of Disability
Type of Disability
Under 1
Total blindness
Partial blindness
Low vision
Total deafness
Partial deafness
Hard of hearing
Oral defect
Loss of one or both arms/hands
Loss of one or both legs/feet
Mentally retarded
Mentally ill
Multiple impairment
Source: National Statistics Office, Special Report on Persons with Disability, 2001.
K. Children of Indigenous Peoples 20
About 10-15 percent of the total population or
about 12 million comprise indigenous peoples
representing 110 ethno-linguistic groups, 5.1
million of whom are ages 18 years old and
below. Though exact figures are not available,
infant mortality rates, child mortality rates and
maternal mortality rates are higher among IPs
than among the majority of the population.
Birth registration is also lower and availability
and access to health, nutrition, water and
sanitation services remain to be a concern.
For the school year 2003-2004, the National
Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
records show that only 5,252 children 18
years and below were in school, which is less
than one percent of the total population of IP
Risk Behaviors among Youth 21
Youth exposure to the adult world through
the mass media, before being prepared for
it, lures adolescents to partake in unsafe
activities such as sex and substance abuse.
The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey
(YAFSS) of 2002 indicates that 11.8 percent of
adolescents 15-19 years old reported having
had premarital sex; 72.5 percent of males and
51.6 percent of females had tried drinking
alcohol; 50.1 percent of males and 19.8
percent of females currently drink alcohol; 11
percent of males and 1.8 percent of females
have tried illegal drugs; and 3.6 percent of
males and 0.4 percent of females are using
illegal drugs. What is alarming is that the rates
for engaging in premarital sexual experience
and for all types of substance abuse rose
compared to the 1994 YAFSS.
The threats to children’s rights due to current
trends in technology, migration and poverty
require urgent and innovative responses in
policies and programs for children. While
this doesn’t mean that existing laws and
programs are ineffective, this situation does
emphasize the need for a social protection
framework that will connect and synergize
various efforts already in place for children’s
rights. This paper aims to illustrate how the
four components of social protection work
together to create comprehensive policies and
programs for children.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Social Protection and Child Rights
The Philippines is a signatory to major international
instruments on children such as the following:
a. Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified
on July 26, 1990
Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale
of Children, Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography, ratified on April 23, 2002
Protocol to the UN Convention Against
Transnational Organized Crime to Prevent and
Suppress Trafficking in Persons, Especially
Women and Children, ratified on May 28,
ILO Convention Nos. 138 and 182, ratified
on June 4, 1998 and November 11, 2000,
These international commitments are translated
into concrete policies and programs implemented
by government, NGOs, and civic groups. Viewing
these policies and programs in the context of a
social protection framework will provide readers
with a better appreciation of how government,
NGO, and civil society initiatives converge to uphold
children’s rights.
protection deals with both absolute deprivation
and vulnerability of the poorest. Further, in July
2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued
Administrative Orders No. 232 and 232-A on the
clustering of social welfare reforms into a National
Social Welfare Program (NSWP). The NSWP,
chaired by the head of the Social Security System
(SSS), with the DSWD exercising coordination
and secretariat functions, has adopted the Social
Protection Framework as shown in Figure 1.
B. Policies and Programs for Children
Within the Context of a Social
Protection Framework
1. Social Welfare
The social welfare component of social protection
consists of preventive and developmental
interventions that seek to support the minimum
basic requirements of the poor, particularly the
poorest of the poor, and reduce risks associated
with unemployment, resettlement, marginalization,
illness, disability, old age and loss of family care.
Social welfare and assistance programs usually
comprise direct assistance in the form of cash or
in-kind transfers to the poorest and marginalized
groups, as well as social services including family
and community support, alternative care and
referral services.
A. Definition of Social Protection
The National Economic and Development Authority
Social Development Committee (NEDA-SDC)
Cabinet Level issued Resolution No. 1 Series of
2007, which defines social protection as follows:
Social Protection constitutes policies and programs
that seek to reduce poverty and vulnerability to
risks and enhance the social status and rights
of the marginalized by promoting and protecting
livelihood and employment, protecting against
hazards and sudden loss of income, and improving
people’s capacity to manage risks.
The Philippine definition of social protection has
four components: social welfare, labor market
interventions, social insurance, and social
safety nets. With these four components, social
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
A notable example of such innovative programs is
the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
(4Ps) conditional cash transfer (CCT). The 4Ps
is a social assistance and social development
program that aims to break the intergenerational
cycle of poverty by providing families with means to
develop their human capital. This program includes
conditionalities that beneficiaries have to comply
with. Otherwise, they will be terminated from the
program. These conditionalities are as follows:
Pregnant women must get pre- and post-natal
care and be attended by a skilled/ trained
health professional during childbirth;
Figure 1. The Social Protection Framework
Reduction of Poverty
  Protecting the Poor and the  
Reduction of Vulnerabilities
Vulnerable from Risks
Mitigating Pressures
on Households
loss of income
Illness and health; disability; food insecurity; hunger and
malnutrition; high population growth; poor quality education;
community displacement
(Man-made and Natural)
Social Insurance
• Health Insurance
• Social Insurance
• Crop Insurance
Social Welfare
• Basic social services (i.e., health
and nutrition, education, social
welfare, socialized housing
• Conditional cash and in-kind
• Capacity building programs
• Program support (targeting early
warning system)
Parents or guardians must attend responsible
parenthood sessions, mother’s classes, and
parent effectiveness seminars;
Children 0-5 years old must receive regular
preventive health checkups and vaccines;
Children 3-5 years old must attend day care
at least 85 percent of the time;
Children 6 to 14 years old must enroll in
elementary or high school and attend at least
85 percent of the time; and
Children 0-14 years old must avail of
deworming pills every five months.
Simply put, poor households with children 0-14
years old and/ or pregnant women will be eligible
for a health transfer currently set at PhP 500
per household per month (PhP 6,000 per year)
regardless of the number of children 0-14 years
old. On the other hand, the education transfer
Labor Market Interventions
• Employment
• Skills development
and training
• Labor and trade
• Agricultural support
Social Safety Nets
• Emergency
• Price subsidies
• Food subsidies
• Emergency
• Retraining and
emergency loans
is set at PhP 300 per month, for a period of 10
months/year (PhP 3,000 per year) for up to a
maximum of three children. Each child between
6-14 years old of beneficiary households will
receive the education transfer for as long as they
are enrolled in primary and secondary school and
maintain a class attendance rate of 85 percent
every month. Each household beneficiary will
receive the cash grants for at most five years.
Accordingly, these cash grants are meant for the
poor to invest in health, nutrition and education
of children – human development needs that are
usually sacrificed by poor families in their struggle
to put food on the table.
As of June 2009, the 4Ps has provided cash grants
to 695,746 poorest households from 17 regions,
45 provinces, 15 cities and 255 municipalities in
the country. A total of 700,000 households are
targeted to benefit from this program by the end
of 2009. Close to one million poor children are
expected to benefit from this program.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Kapit-Bisig Laban sa KahirapanComprehensive and Integrated Delivery of
Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS)
In order to facilitate the delivery of social services,
the government’s flagship poverty-alleviation
project, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa KahirapanComprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social
Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), which is implemented
by the DSWD through the financial support of the
World Bank, has completed 4,758 subprojects in
4,917 barangays (villages) from 183 municipalities
in 43 poorest provinces as of June 2009.
Of these subprojects, those directly benefiting
children include school buildings (523), day
care centers (402), health stations (385),
water sanitation projects (1,037), roads and
infrastructure projects (1,260), and electrification
projects (88).
Other subprojects with indirect benefits to children
and their families include community economic
enterprise training (117), small-scale irrigation (46),
and environmental protection projects (448). The
Kalahi-CIDSS has benefited a cumulative total of
985,893 households from 2006 to June 2009.22
Country Programme for Children (CPC) 623
CPC 6 (2004-2009) aims to reduce the disparities
between the basic indicators in 24 focused areas
(consisting of 19 provinces and five cities) and the
national data for health, nutrition, education, ECCD
and protection indicators by at least 50 percent
by the end of 2009 from 2003 levels. This also
intends to contribute to improving the national data
and to achieving the MDGs.
CPC 6 has six program components, namely:
• Health and Nutrition Programme aims to
reduce infant and under-five mortality rates
and child and maternal under-nutrition in the
focus areas.
Education Programme seeks to increase
access and participation in early childhood
care and development, enrolment in primary
school, and completion of primary school.
Child Protection Programme aspires to identify
children who are vulnerable to and are victims
of abuse, exploitation and violence through
preventive actions and early interventions.
HIV/AIDS Programme strives to enable the
most at-risk children and youth in focus areas
to protect themselves from HIV and risk factors
for HIV infection.
Communication Programme seeks to increase
the population’s basic understanding of
the Convention on the Rights of the Child
and generate commitment from policy
and decision makers to create a safe and
protection environment for children.
Local Policy and Institutional Development
Programme aims to increase investments
and enforce child-friendly policies and
accountability for improving the situation of
children in local government units.
The overall program strategies built on those
developed in the previous program, CPC 5, consist
of: (a) a human rights-based approach to policy
and program development; (b) capacity building
with priority given to institutions, systems and duty
bearers in the most disadvantaged 30 percent
of barangays in the focus areas; (c) expanding
partnerships and alliances to scale up the
Child Friendly Movement (CFM) and reach more
underserved children and mothers; (d) leveraging
more resources for children; (e) providing support
to targeted and convergent policies and basic
services; (f) developing and implementing joint
programming initiatives with other UN agencies; (g)
strengthening program communication and young
people’s participation; (h) advocacy and political
mobilization at all administrative levels; and, (i)
scaling up CFM through child-friendly governance in
a rights-based context.
Interventions for the Prevention,
Rehabilitation and Reintegration of
Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation
such as Child Trafficking and Child
In regard to the prevention of child abuse and
commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC),
the National Framework of Action Against CSEC
(FAACSEC) covering the period 2000-2004 is
currently being updated. Related programs in
the area of tourism and information technology
and advocacy campaigns have likewise been
The Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Child Wise
Tourism Project highlights the value of ensuring the
safety of children in tourist destinations. It provides
training which enhance the capabilities of tourism
personnel, hotel and restaurant staff, and even taxi
drivers to give immediate intervention to reported
cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse. On
enhancing corporate social responsibility, the
DOT has improved its standards for licensing and
accreditation of tourism establishments to include
child protection measures and promotion of The
Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from
Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. These
measures have been incorporated in the newlydeveloped Philippine Ecotourism Standards. The
Amended Omnibus Guidelines for Minors Traveling
Abroad was also issued in 2006 to prevent crossborder trafficking of children.
Cognizant that child pornography is a “new
dimension” of the forms of CSEC, the Philippines
has conducted various researches providing
evidence-based actions addressing child
pornography in the Philippines. In addition to
the 2005 rapid appraisal study entitled Child
Pornography in the Philippines, CWC with the
support of UNICEF has undertaken at least
two recent studies on child pornography—an
investigative study on the modus operandi of
perpetrators and another study on risk and
protective factors that influence the victimization
of children. These studies are now being used
as basis of awareness-raising efforts and the
drafting of a communication plan on child
pornography. Relatedly, both the Senate and
House of Representatives are deliberating on the
comprehensive bill on anti-child pornography. This
law is projected to be enacted before the 14th
Congress ends.
In the aspect of information technology or I.T., the
ECPAT Philippines has been conducting the Make
IT Safe Campaign, which educates the private
sector (i.e., Internet café owners, Internet service
providers), children and young people about
protecting children from violence in cyberspace,
including child pornography. This has led to
self-regulation of the private sector through the
adoption of the I-Café Code of Conduct for I-Café
Operators and Owners in the Philippines.
Government, with the support of NGOs, has
also started measures to empower children by
disseminating information materials that teach
children to protect themselves from harm. Notable
examples are the Personal Safety Lessons (PSL),
which has been integrated in the school curriculum
of selected provinces, as well as the Manual on
Protective Behavior. Advocacy campaigns on
children’s rights and issues, such as the 18Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women
(November 25-December 12), the National
Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual
Abuse and Exploitation (second week of February,
Protection and Gender-Fair Treatment of the Girl
Child Week (fourth week of March), and Adoption
Consciousness Day (first Saturday of February) are
also carried out regularly by government agencies,
LGUs, and NGOs.24
Access to Justice for the Poor
Aside from disseminating information materials
and advocacy campaigns, the capacity of poor
women and children to take recourse in the law
has also been strengthened through the Access
to Justice for the Poor Project. This project, which
began its operational implementation in 2004,
has been undertaken with the support of the
European Commission. The project covers five
provinces, namely Oriental Mindoro, Camarines
Sur, Capiz, Lanao del Norte, and Sultan Kudarat,
and encompasses 756 barangays in 36
municipalities. Its objectives include enabling the
poor in the above areas to pursue justice through
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
increasing their knowledge about their basic rights
and the judicial system, creating an enabling and
supportive environment within the judiciary and law
enforcement institutions, and providing an overall
framework to ensure the rights of poor women and
Among its accomplishments include: the issuance
of a memorandum circular by the Supreme Court
on the implementation of information, education
and communication (IEC) guidelines, which have
been used in the sensitization training of the
Philippine Judicial Academy, judges and court
personnel; integration of gender sensitivity
training, laws on women and children, and human
rights in the curriculum of the Philippine Public
Safety College of the DILG; enhancement of
community development and empowerment of
poor women and children through communitybased training for women and children’s rights
advocates; conduct of training for the Lupong
Tagapamayapa (dispute mediators) and DILG
personnel on the Barangay Justice Law; fostering
institutional development of law enforcement
by training police officers and DOJ personnel on
human rights issues, barangay justice system, and
related implementation procedures; and providing
a springboard for legal reform by organizing
conferences such as the International Conference
on Public Interest Lawyering for Human Rights and
Social Justice, spearheaded by the Alternative Law
Groups in March 2008, which would lead to the
enactment and/ or amendment of existing laws on
women and children.25
The Guidelines in the Establishment of the
Access to Justice Networks (AJNs) has likewise
been crafted. The AJN is an interagency and
multi-stakeholder mechanism at the barangay,
municipal, and provincial levels that will: (1)
provide information on access to justice issues,
inventory of laws and procedures; (2) assist poor
women and children in navigating through various
law procedures (i.e., Katarungang Pambarangay
law); (3) recommend policies; and (4) provide for
continuing education as regards pertinent laws, as
well as a venue for discussion of issues for women
and children.26
Services to Children in Conflict with the
Law (CICL)
A landmark legislation for the protection of the
rights of children is Republic Act 9344 or the
Juvenile Justice Welfare Act (JJWA), which was
signed into law in 2006. It provides for a child
appropriate systems and procedures in the
treatment of children at risk and CICL. It covers
the different stages involving children at risk and
children in conflict with the law, from prevention to
rehabilitation and reintegration.
To ensure the effective implementation of this Act,
the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC) was
created composed of different national government
agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ),
Department of Education (DepEd), Department of
Interior and Local Government (DILG), Commission
on Human Rights (CHR), National Youth
Commission (NYC), and CWC, with representation
from two non-government organizations (NGOs)
and chaired by the DSWD.
Interventions for children in conflict with the
law (CICL) as provided in the Comprehensive
Intervention Program (CIP) for CICL are
administered in three levels as follows:
Primary interventions - general and developmental
measures to promote social justice and equal
opportunity that address the root cause of
offending, thus developing potentials and
sustaining strength of the child, family and
community to prevent circumstances of child at
risk. Interventions are focused on the community
as a larger system including its members.
Secondary interventions – preventive and
protective measures that assist child at risk of
offending, his/her family, and community with
the aim of preventing circumstances that make a
child to be in conflict with the law. Focus is on the
problem areas in the child, family and community
that need to be resolved for the circumstance of
the child to return to a healthy and functioning
Some of the secondary interventions given to
children at risk and CICL by LGUs and NGOs are the
Drama in Education and Children’s Theater
(DIECT) implemented by The Children’s
Laboratory which provides alternative
education to child laborers and street
children at risk of becoming CICL and
uses games, drama and other art forms as
alternative methods for instruction; recognized
as a valuable supporter of the DepEd’s
Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Program
Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines
(PYAP) implemented by the LGUs and
organized in barangays with high incidence
of OSYs at risk of becoming CICL; majority
of services are geared towards enhancing
economic capacities of youths, building their
personality and life/practical skills, upgrading
leadership capacities, strengthening youth
participation in the community, and helping
them gain access to education; assemblies
are held annually to discuss pressing issues
related to youth such as drug abuse, early
marriage, teenage pregnancy and adolescent
Special Drug Education Center implemented
by the Pasay City and Legaspi City
governments which provide: a) training on
character building, enhancing leadership
capacities, peer counseling, computer literacy
and livelihood, i.e., food processing; b)
advocacy seminars on RA 9344, Reproductive
Health and positive lifestyles; c) drug
awareness campaigns, symposia, and youth
summits; d) involving youth volunteers in
feeding programs, sports fests, live band
competitions, and other community-based
activities; e) establishing linkages with antidrug abuse councils; and f) maintaining a
databank of youth groups and street children
Information Technology Literacy Program for
OSY and Youth with Disability implemented
by the Cabanatuan City government which: a)
offers literacy programs for OSYs and youths
with disability to enhance their employment
capacities; b) installs center facilities with
proper equipment for youths with disability; c)
mobilizes community volunteers as teachers;
d) provides on-the-job training (OJT) for OSYs
and youths with disability in private and public
companies; e) holds youth “abylimpics” and
mini sports fests; and f) gives counseling to
Tertiary interventions – remedial measures that
aim to restore his/her functioning state, repair the
damages created as a result of his/her offense and
prevent re-offending. Interventions are heavy on
the child and his/her family as his/her immediate
support system. The community is helped to
support the rehabilitation process of the child and
the family.
Diversion Work for CICL implemented by
the Free Rehabilitation, Economic, Education
and Legal Assistance Volunteers Association
(FREELAVA), Inc. It Involves the organization
of Children’s Justice Committees comprised
of barangay officials, peer educators (mostly
diverted or rehabilitated CICL) and community
volunteers (mothers and concerned citizens)
trained on the proper handling of CICL. This
restored the self-esteem of former CICL and
paved way for the paradigm shift towards
rights-based administration of justice
Volunteer Intervention Program for Youth
(VIPY) implemented by DSWD Field Office
XII and partner LGUs. This has the following
features: a) mobilizes community volunteers
to help social workers in treating and
rehabilitating CICL, b) increases involvement
of rehabilitated CICL in community projects
such as environment-related projects, e.g.,
tree planting, etc., c) gives CICL access to
self-employment assistance, skills training,
leadership training, education assistance and
legal service assistance, and d) allows parents
to undergo Parent Effectiveness Sessions
that help them develop the right attitude and
necessary ability in dealing with their children.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
TuKLASan Center implemented by the
Education Research and Development
Assistance (ERDA) Foundation. TuKLASan
stands for Tuklas (discovery), Kalinga (care),
Laruan (play), Aralan (study) at Sanayan
(training). It provides care, protective,
rehabilitative and preventive programs
for street children and children at risk of
becoming CICL and facilitates the entry and
re-entry of school dropouts and late enrollees
to school through: a) providing temporary
home life until the child is reconciled with his/
her family, b) counseling for children, which
focuses on values education and helping
them understand their situation, d) providing
vocational and skills training in a nonformal,
nongraded setup, e) giving assistance to
children returning to formal schooling, and
e) granting school assistance such as school
supplies and scholarships to students.
Eleven residential centers (i.e., nine Regional
Rehabilitation Centers for the Youth (RRCY),
Marillac Hills and the National Training School
for Boys (NTSB)) are operated and maintained
by the DSWD and provides 24-hour custodial
care, treatment and rehabilitation services
by a team of social workers, psychologists,
house parents, and vocational instructors
among others. CICL with suspended sentence
are rehabilitated or helped to overcome their
deviant behavior and become law abiding and
productive individuals. CICL are provided with
therapy, counseling, group living services and
special nonformal education in elementary
and/or high school levels. They are also
provided with vocational skills training such
as welding, automotive repair, practical
electronics, computer literacy program or agrofarming to enable them to gain occupational
skills. The families of the residents are
provided with family counseling and referral
for livelihood opportunities.
To ensure effectiveness in the implementation
of the law, the Guidelines in the Handling of CICL
was developed for service providers such as
social workers, law enforcers, public attorneys, jail
wardens and prosecutors. As of December 2008,
108 PAO lawyers, 100 Bureau of Jail Management
and Penology (BJMP) personnel, 949 PNP
personnel, 385 prosecutors and 1,274 local social
welfare and development officers (LSWDOs) have
been trained.
2. Labor Market Interventions
Labor market interventions are defined as
measures that aim to enhance employment
opportunities and protection of the rights and
welfare of workers. It also pertains to compliance
with labor standards, minimum wages, and health
and safety at the workplace.
As regards the issue of child labor, the Department
of Labor and Employment (DOLE) chairs the
National Child Labor Committee, which gives
overall guidance to the Philippine Plan of Action
Against Child Labor (PPACL). The PPACL is
implemented by multi-sectoral partners working to
eliminate child labor by empowering communities
and protecting, withdrawing and reintegrating
rescued child workers to society.
Philippine Time-Bound Program (PTBP)
A program related to the PPACL is the Philippine
Time-Bound Program (PTBP), which supports
ILO Convention No. 182 on the prohibition and
elimination of worst forms of child labor (WFCL).
Major interventions implemented in this regard
include: a) improving labor inspection system in
order to protect working children from hazardous
and exploitative work; b) development of advocacy
and communication materials with core messages
on eliminating the worst forms of child labor;
c) strengthening and institutionalization of the
Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM) mechanism
to get children out of the worst forms of child
labor; d) providing opportunities for education
and vocational training for child workers through
both the formal and nonformal education systems
and alternative learning systems; and e) providing
access to alternative livelihood and employment
opportunities for parents and siblings of child
The Program focused on six priority sectors,
namely: a) children in deep-sea fishing, b)
commercial sexual exploitation, c) domestic
work, d) pyrotechniques, e) mining/quarrying,
and f) children in sugar plantations in eight areas
where cases of WFCL have been documented,
i.e.,Camarines Norte, Bulacan, Negros Oriental,
Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Davao, and three cities in
Metro Manila.
are designed in such a way that beneficiaries
pay a premium over a given period of time to
cover or protect them from loss of income and
unemployment as a result of illness, injury,
disability, retrenchment, harvest failure, maternity,
old age, etc. This component includes micro- and
area-based schemes to address vulnerability at
the community level (such as micro-insurance,
agricultural insurance and social support funds).
From 2001-2006, the PTBP has successfully
prevented and withdrawn 40,549 children from
commercial sexual exploitation, mining and
quarrying, domestic employment, and other forms
of child labor. These rescued children have been
provided with nonformal education, vocational
training, psychosocial counseling, legal assistance,
and health services.
An example of social insurance programs that
benefit children is the PhilHealth’s Indigent
Program (PHIP). The PHIP is an insurance plan for
the poor, which covers care in public rural health
units and hospitals. The premium is subsidized by
local governments. As of March 2009, this program
has already benefited about 3.4 million indigent
families, or 17 million beneficiaries.28
Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran
(SEA-K) Program
In order to provide livelihood for families, the
DSWD also has the Self-Employment Assistance
Kaunlaran (SEA-K) program. The SEA-K is a
capability program undertaken by DSWD with
LGUs, which aims to enhance the socioeconomic
skills of poor families through the organization of
community-based associations for entrepreneurial
development. In 2008, the SEA-K benefited 28,518
families with PhP142.8 million worth of capital
seed fund. This brings the aggregate number of
beneficiaries to 344,623 families and of the capital
seed fund to PhP1.5 billion since the project began
in 1993.27 This indirectly benefits about 1,033,869
children, assuming that an average household
consists of two adults and has a size of five. Also
in 2008, five regions reported a total of 102 youth
members of SEA-K. This, however, does not yet
include other regions that were unable to give
disaggregated data on the number of SEA-K youth
beneficiaries in their respective areas.
3. Social Insurance
Social insurance pertains to programs that seek
to mitigate income risks by pooling resources and
spreading risks across time and classes. These
4. Social Safety Nets
Social safety nets are stopgap mechanisms or
urgent responses that address effects of economic
shocks, disasters and calamities on specific
vulnerable groups. These are measures that
target affected groups with the specific objective
of providing relief and transition. Measures
include emergency assistance, price subsidies,
food programs, employment programs, retraining
programs, and emergency loans.
Food for School Program (FSP)
This program is part of the Accelerated Hunger
Mitigation Plan (AHMP) of the government and
is implemented in priority areas identified by
the National Nutrition Council (NNC) as having
high hunger and poverty incidence statistics29 as
follows: 1) DILG-identified “hot spots” in NCR, 2)
all municipalities and cities of top 10 food poorest
provinces, 3) all 5th and 6th class municipalities
of the next top 44 food-poor provinces, 4) all 4th
class municipalities in the next top 44 food-poor
provinces where there are no 5th and 6th class
municipalities, and 5) municipalities with high
levels of poverty based on the 2003 Small Area
Estimates (SAE). Beneficiaries of the FSP are
families of pupils enrolled in public elementary
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
schools, DepEd-supervised preschools and day
care centers in the identified priority areas.
The FSP aims to address hunger among families
through their children in Grades 1 to 6, DepEdsupervised preschools and DSWD day care centers.
It provides a food subsidy per child/student who
receive a daily ration of one kilo of iron-fortified
rice per actual attendance.30 For the first quarter
of 2009, a total of 404,572 children from 11,733
day care centers in 433 municipalities and cities
received 15,926,351 kilos of rice amounting to
PhP 318.52 million.31 From 2005 to early 2008,
over 6.7 million preschoolers and Grade 1 pupils
benefited from the program, which distributed a
total of over 268 million kilos of rice amounting to
PhP 5.3 million.32
Healthy Start Program
The Healthy Start Program provides supplemental
food to day care children aged three to five years
old. For CY 2009, food supplementation was in a
form of hot meals served either during breakfast
or before the afternoon session five days a week.
Parents of children beneficiaries manage the
feeding program based on a prepared cycle of
menu using available indigenous food materials.
The children are weighed and measured in height
at the start of the feeding and a monthly weight
and height measurement is conducted thereafter
to determine improvement in their nutritional
status. As of June 2009, there are 146,811
children beneficiaries of the program in 240 cities
and municipalities.
Tindahan Natin (TN)
Tindahan Natin aims to ensure that poor families
get access to low-priced basic food items
particularly rice and noodles, ensure availability
and supply of rice in the community, and create
livelihood and job opportunities for the community.
This is also part of the hunger mitigation program
of the government. Target beneficiaries of the TN
project are: 1) the marginalized and poor sector as
direct beneficiaries of the project, and 2) the TN
Operators (TNOs) as livelihood participants for their
additional income.
Areas of implementation include Metro Manila and
the 54 food-poor provinces identified by the NNC
with high hunger and poverty incidence statistics.33
As of June 2009, a total of 16,063 TNOs34 operated
serving a total of 5.6 million families.
In order to ensure that only poor households
can have access to TNOs, Family Access Cards
(FACs) are given to families who belong to the food
threshold sector. This scheme aims to cushion the
impact of the rising cost of rice on these families
by allowing them to buy the NFA-subsidized rice.
Identification of the target family-beneficiaries
is through the General Intake Sheet (GIS)
administered by the LGUs and validated by the
DSWD.35 For 2008, the DSWD issued 274,825 FACs
to qualified beneficiaries in Metro Manila. Outside
of Metro Manila, the TNOs use the Rice Allocation
Ledger as reference where all eligible beneficiaries
are listed.
assistance during calamities/disasters
The Cluster Approach was adopted by the
National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC)
as a mechanism to address gaps and strengthen
humanitarian response to emergencies, ensure
predictability and accountability of international
and national responses, clarify division of labor
among organizations, and define the roles and
responsibilities within the different sectors
responding to emergencies. It also aims to
strengthen partnerships between government,
UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (UNIASC), international humanitarian agencies,
and international and local non-government
organizations. It seeks to optimize support to
government by complementing efforts at the
national and local levels in responding to priority
needs in affected areas. Table 4 shows the cluster
lead, composition and IASC counterpart for each
Besides the provision of food and non-food items,
direct services to children such as psychosocial
interventions are also being offered including
critical stress incidence debriefing (e.g., play
therapy), supplemental feeding, supervised
Table 4. Cluster Coordination Mechanism
Government Lead
IASC Country Team Counterpart
Cluster Composition
Food and Non-Food Items
World Food Programme (WFP)
Camp Management,
Emergency Shelter and
International Organization for
Migration (IOM)
Kapamilya, GMA Kapuso Foundation,
World Vision, Plan International,
Save the Children, CNDR, Children
Int’l, ADRA
Permanent Shelter
and Livelihood
UN Development Programme
(UNDP)-[Shelter], International Labor
Organization (ILO)-[Livelihood]
NHA, DA, DND, PNRC, Phil. Relief
& Dev’t Service (PhilRADS), Christian
Aid, Community Organizers of the
Phils. (COPE), Pampanga Disaster
Network, IOM, ADRA, UNICEF, World
Health, WASH, Nutrition
and Psychosocial Services
Department of
Agriculture (DA)
Telecommunications &
Office of Civil Defense
(OCD), NDCCOperations Center
Early Recovery
neighborhood play, and educational assistance.
Moreover, within two to three days after the event
of disaster, tent or bunk houses are constructed
to accommodate victims of disasters from school
buildings converted into evacuation centers and
to resume the conduct of classes at the soonest
possible time.
5. Other Regional Multilateral/Bilateral
Aside from social protection initiatives at the
local level, the Philippines also actively engages
in regional efforts to uphold children’s rights.
At the level of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines initiated
the formulation of the ASEAN Guidelines for
the Protection of Trafficked Children, which was
adopted by the ten ASEAN Member States during
the Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and
Development (MSWD) in 2007. The Philippines’
Child Wise Tourism Program also provided
groundwork for cross-country initiatives at the
ASEAN level such as the ASEAN Education
Campaign, ASEAN Travelers Code, and the Annual
Regional Task Force Meeting.36
Another milestone for promoting child rights in
2008 was the approval of the ASEAN Children’s
Forum by the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Ministerial
Meeting on Social Welfare and Development
(SOMSWD). The ASEAN Children’s Forum aims
to institutionalize the participation of children in
ASEAN structures. It is an offshoot of the First
Southeast Asian Children’s Conference hosted by
the Philippines’ Council for the Welfare of Children
in 2006 with the support of UNICEF.37 Currently, a
working group for the ten ASEAN member states is
in the process of formulating the terms of reference
for the establishment of an ASEAN Commission
on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of
Women and Children.
With regard to trafficking of children, the DSWD,
DOLE and three NGOs, with the support of
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
ILO, implemented the Economic and Social
Empowerment for Returned Victims of Trafficking.
This program aims to foster the reintegration of
trafficked victims, including children, and the
systematic tracking of cases and follow-up to
prevent re-victimization. Also, the Philippines
entered into extradition treaties on this matter
with transit and destination countries for trafficked
children such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong,
China, Indonesia, USA, Thailand, and the Federated
States of Micronesia.
Since trafficking interventions are incomplete
without addressing the gender perspective,
the Gender Mainstreaming Program of the UN
Population Fund (UNFPA) is also currently being
implemented by concerned government agencies
and NGOs.
Through the DSWD’s International Social Welfare
Services for Filipino Nationals (ISWSFN), Social
Welfare Attachés have been deployed to countries
like Malaysia, and by end 2009 to Jordan and
Saudi Arabia where there is a large concentration
of OFWs. Core Social Welfare Services delivered
by ISWSFN include the provision of psychosocial
interventions to victims of exploitation and abuse
such as counseling, critical incidence stress
debriefing, assistance to individuals in crisis
situations, referral, repatriation assistance, and
social integration services.
The Presidential Award for Child-Friendly
Municipalities and Cities gives recognition to the
Local Government Units and their Local Chief
Executives that put in place a “child-friendly”
environment and uphold the rights of children
to survival, protection, development, and
participation. There are five categories for the
Presidential Award, namely, for 4th to 6th Class
Municipality, for 1st to 3rd Class Municipality, for
Component City, for Independent Chartered City,
and for Highly Urbanized City. Its major components
include Planning and Policy Formulation (15%),
Resource Utilization (15%), Service Delivery (40%),
Institution Building (10%), Child Participation
(10%), and Community Participation (10%). Service
delivery which has the biggest percentage consists
of the indicators on health, education, and special
A notable accomplishment of the ISWSFN in 2008
was the provision of assistance to deportees
including 257 stateless children deportees aged
0-7 years old. Deportees included undocumented
Filipino nationals who were victims of trafficking
and illegal recruitment; victims of forced labor;
and distressed OFWs. Services provided include
counseling, critical incidence stress debriefing,
securing of travel documents for immediate
repatriation, networking/ referrals, and facilitating
court hearings of rescued trafficked victims. Social
workers were also posted in the International
Social Services Japan (ISSJ), an international
NGO. In 2008, the ISSJ served 68 cases of Filipino
nationals, mostly involving children. The cases
included adoption, repatriation, financial support,
and child custody.38
Moreover, the country also actively supports global
efforts to uphold child rights, such as the UNICEF’s
Project on Protective Services for Children Affected
by Abuse, Exploitation and Trafficking, which is
a key program to address commercial sexual
exploitation; and the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) Trafficking Watch Group.
6. Support Mechanisms for Children
Child-Friendly Movement
Local Council for the Protection of
Children (LCPC)
The Local Council for the Protection of Children
(LCPC) is a council organized at the provincial, city,
municipal or barangay level that is responsible in
planning and spearheading programs for children.
The LCPC is an enabling mechanism for formulating
policies, plans and programs for children and
assisting LGUs make the locality child-sensitive
or child-friendly. LCPCs provide the coordinative
linkages with agencies and institutions in planning
and monitoring and evaluation of plans for children
at the local level (provincial, city/municipal and
Efforts to establish LCPCs continue, with 72.6
percent (53) of the 73 provinces assessed, 72
percent (81) of the 119 cities assessed, 48 percent
(618) of the 1,397 municipalities assessed and
33 percent (11,059) of the 38,898 barangays
assessed having functional LCPCs as of December
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)Basic Sectors on Children and Youth
Through Republic Act 8425 or the Social Reform
and Poverty Alleviation Act, the National AntiPoverty Commission (NAPC) serves as the oversight
and coordinating body of all poverty reduction
programs of government and institutionalized Basic
Sector participation in governance at all levels of
decision-making and management processes.
The government sector and the civil society/ basic
sectors are two major pillars of the NAPC. Heads of
national government agencies (NGAs) and the four
leagues of LGUs compose the government sector
component, while the basic sector component has
the Sectoral Representatives of the fourteen basic
sectors which include the children and youth and
student sectors.
Inter-Agency Committee Against
Trafficking (IACAT)
Republic Act No. 9208, otherwise known as the
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, provides
for the creation of the Inter-Agency Council Against
Trafficking (IACAT) to coordinate and monitor the
implementation of the law. The DOJ is chair of the
committee, while the DSWD sits as co-chair. Its
members are: the secretaries of the Department
of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor
and Employment (DOLE): heads of the Bureau of
Immigration (BI), National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine
Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), and
National Commission on the Role of Filipino
Women (NCRFW); and sectoral representatives of
the children’s sector, women’s sector, and OFW
sector. Ex officio members are the secretary of the
Department of Interior and Local Government and
head of the Philippine Center for Transnational
The IACAT implements projects geared towards
the elimination of trafficking in persons in the
Philippines, prevention of the occurrence of
trafficking, protection and rehabilitation of
victims, and conviction of trafficking offenders.
Among its accomplishments is the formulation
of the Philippine Guidelines for the Protection of
Trafficked Children, Manual on Law Enforcement
and Prosecution of Trafficking in Persons Cases,
and Manual on Recovery and Reintegration of
Victim Survivors on Trafficking, among others. As
of June 2009, a total of 17 Regional IACATs are
in place in all regions and 104 local IACATs have
been established in 25 provinces, 16 cities and 63
Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against
Women and Children (IAC-VAWC)
The Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against
Women and Children (IAC-VAWC) was created under
Republic Act 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against
Women and Their Children Act, to spearhead
efforts and initiatives for the implementation and
monitoring of the law. Members include DSWD,
DILG, NCRFW, Civil Service Commission (CSC),
Commission on Human Rights (CHR), DepEd,
Department of Health (DOH), DOJ, DOLE, CWC, NBI
and PNP.
Among its endeavors is the upgrading of the PNPWomen and Children’s Concerns Division (WCCD)
into a Women and Child Protection Center (WCPC)
to serve as a “one-stop-shop” for the investigation
of victims of sexual abuse and violence against
women and children. Moreover, the NCRFW issued
VAW performance standards for the DSWD, DOJ
and DILG as a tool for service providers to respond
effectively to cases of VAW, to gauge the level
of compliance to national policies, to generate
concrete data needed for program development
and policy formulation, and to serve as advocacy
tool for protecting women’s rights. Also, in 2006,
Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE),
Philippines Inc. was established through the
initiative of the NCRFW to tap men actively involved
in the elimination of VAW.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Registration, Licensing and Accreditation
To ensure quality of services being provided by
DSWD, LGUs and NGOs, the DSWD as part of its
regulatory function registers, licenses and accredits
social welfare and development agencies. For
children and youth caring agencies, 37 residential
and 508 community-based agencies have been
registered, 266 residential and 212 communitybased have been licensed, and 128 residential and
61 community-based agencies have been accredited
as of 2008.41
Issues and Challenges on Social
While these social welfare programs have succeeded
in helping the poor, issues regarding leakage of
benefits to the non-poor, exclusion of the truly poor,
and cost-effectiveness of programs have been
According to the studies of Reyes (2008) and
Manasan and Cuenca (2008), the following key
issues regarding implementation of social assistance
programs need to be addressed:
A. Need for better targeting
Aside from gaps in addressing major social risks,
another observed common weakness of various
poverty reduction programs is the lack of a proper
targeting system. Although targeting per se is not a
one-size-fits-all system, Reyes (2008) suggested that
under-coverage and leakage rates can be reduced
to acceptable levels if a proper targeting system is
While partnerships with NGOs and other
stakeholders have succeeded in making social
services accessible to the poor, Aldaba (2008)
observed that there seems to be a tendency for
NGOs to flock to selected advocacies (i.e., children’s
causes) while leaving out the other sectors (i.e.,
PWDs and OPs). Aldaba emphasized the need for
government to provide direction to the NGOs and
stakeholders by encouraging them to undertake
causes that need their support the most.
Further, the Manasan and Cuenca study revealed
that the leakage of the Food for School Program
is 59 percent and 62 percent for the DSWD and
DepEd components, respectively. In essence, the
share of the poor in the total transfers was only 41
percent for the DSWD component and 38 percent
for the DepEd component.42
Hence, it was discovered that geographic targeting
alone based on provincial-level poverty incidence
and the income class of municipalities is not
enough to target intended beneficiaries. The same
study suggested that household targeting with
the use of verified or proxy means test combined
with geographic targeting can better improve its
To address this need, the National Household
Targeting System for Poverty Reduction Program
(NHTS-PR) was established. Using the 4Ps Proxy
Means Test as its model, the NHTS-PR was created
to reduce leakage rates of pro-poor programs. It
will cover 8.3 million households in the following
priority areas: Phase I -1) 20 poorest provinces; 2)
municipalities with a poverty incidence rate of 60
percent and above based on the 2003 Small Area
Estimates (SAE); and 3) pockets of poverty in highly
urbanized cities. Phase II – 1) municipalities with
50 percent to 59 percent poverty incidence, and 2)
pockets of poverty in municipalities with 49 percent
and below poverty incidence; Phase II - pockets of
poverty in component cities nationwide. The NHTS
Management Office has already been created to
oversee the program.
As of August 2009, more than 1.78 million
households have been enumerated. Of these, more
than 1.66 million have been encoded and 865,799
of these households have been identified as poor
after being subjected to the PMT.
B. Need to improve budget and cost
While the adverse impact of social risks to
society is far-reaching, the resources to fund
implementation of much needed social protection
programs are limited. Limited resources
underscore the need for better poverty targeting;
* NHTS-PR data (489, 870) as of 24 August 2009 and 4Ps set 1 data (375,829 HH0 as of July 2009 were combined
Table 5. Overall Trends in Aggregate DSWD Spending (CY 1999-2006)
% to Total NG expenditure
% to GDP
Nominal per capita (in pesos)
Real per capita (in pesos)
Nominal per poor population (in pesos)
Real per poor population (in pesos)
Total DSWD spending
(in million pesos)
Total DSWD spending based on
GAA allocation (in million pesos)
better resource mobilization and coordination
among government agencies, LGUs, NGOs, and
other stakeholders; and enhancing capacities of
LGUs to deliver social protection programs.
as follows: PhP 348.8 billion for education; PhP
83.6 billion for health; PhP 1.9 billion for water
and sanitation, and PhP 343.6 billion for poverty
The study of Manasan and Cuenca (2008) on
government spending for social assistance or SWD
services revealed the following:
Several proposals were recommended by the study,
such as: a) improve tax collection by strengthening
systems and procedures of revenue collection
agencies; b) mobilize local government units to
allocate resources for the MDGs; c) sustain budget
reform initiatives; d) allocate resources away
from tertiary to basic education; e) allocate more
resources to public health/primary health care; f)
exert maximum effort to ensure that resources are
utilized efficiently; g) mobilize resources from the
private sector; and h) pursue a stronger population
management policy and program.
Basic social services spending accounts for
an average of 14.42 percent and has been
decreasing from 1999-2005.
The share of SWD services in total national
government expenditure on basic social
services is relatively small (0.3% in 19992006 on the average).
The share of SWD services is notably stable
compared to that of the education or health/
nutrition sector when measured relative to the
total national government spending, national
government spending as percentage to GDP,
and/or when expressed in real per capita
Another study by Manasan (2007), Financing
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):
Philippines, highlighted the estimated resource
gaps for achieving the MDGs for the period 20072015 totaling PhP 777.9 billion with breakdown
If the proportion of budget allocations reflects
the government’s priorities, the evident decrease
in government spending for SWD programs, as
shown by the study of Manasan and Cuenca
(2008), is indeed alarming. It reflects the need for
government to re-allocate budgets for SWD and
strengthen partnerships with LGUs and NGOs to
augment SWD budgets.
In relation to proper utilization of the SWD budget,
it is also important to note when the various modes
of social assistance (i.e., cash vs. noncash and
conditional vs. nonconditional) will be applied.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
C. Need for effective monitoring of social
protection programs and database on
To facilitate better program delivery and
transparent monitoring and evaluation of initiatives
and measures being undertaken by both national
and local government as well as partner agencies,
there is a need to establish a database on children
clients. This will prevent errors in the consolidation
of data, better capture data from the field, and
facilitate timely reporting of information.
At present, a database on children in need of
special protection (CNSP) is being developed by
DSWD which includes data on children in armed
conflict (CIAC). To date, the child intake sheet
which will be used to gather data from the field
has been pre-tested and is being finalized. Output
tables have been finalized and the variables and
indicators needed for the development of the
system have been approved.
Further, efforts to develop an Early Childhood Care
and Development (ECCD) web-based information
system are underway. The system has been set
up and training of trainors was conducted last
February. Field offices of the Department have
drafted their respective action plans for the rollout
of the system and guidelines for the said project
are being formulated.
The CWC also initiated in 2003 the Subaybay Bata
Monitoring System composed of macro monitoring,
micro monitoring and project-based monitoring
system. Monitoring of the CRC implementation and
support for the Annual State of the Filipino Children
Report (SFCR) are within its macro monitoring
scope. It has 143 indicators for the seven clusters
of child rights. Sixteen agencies are linked to
this system including major national government
Agencies (NGAs) and statistical agencies such
as the National Statistics Office (NSO) and the
National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).
Even with the installation of the system, data
generation is still slow and available data is not
up-to-date. Likewise, disaggregation of data by age,
gender, ethnic group, rural or urban, and other
pertinent categories is also wanting.45
D. Others
Apart from the above issues and challenges
already discussed, a study conducted by the
Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP),
entitled Review and Strengthening of the National
Social Protection and Welfare Program and
commissioned by the National Social Welfare
Cluster, identified the most fundamental problems
of the government’s social protection and welfare
programs as follows: a) Social protection has a
narrow base of beneficiaries. b) Poor and informal
sectors have limited access, bargaining power and
influence on local officials and service providers.
c) Programs are numerous but have limited
reach, uncoordinated, inadequately funded and
short-lived. Hence, for example, prevalence of
malnutrition remains high not for lack of programs
but more for inadequate coverage and lack of
These findings are supported by the Social
Protection Index (SPI)47 of the Asian Development
Bank (ADB), which show that the Philippines lags
behind other neighboring countries in terms of
social protection coverage especially for children,
gauged in terms of percentage of target population
as follows: Philippines – 5.0 percent; Malaysia – 99
percent; Indonesia – 98.9 percent; and Vietnam –
62.4 percent.
Future Scenarios: Implications
and Consequences
All of the prospective conditions previously
depicted in Megatrends 1 now stand true, and
unless collective action is mobilized to successfully
tackle the root causes of the issues and trends
defined, it will continue to stand true in the coming
years. These scenarios include: 1) homelessness of
children due to urban migration, 2) disintegration
of families due to overseas migration, 3) increasing
demand for child care facilities, 4) occurrence of
disabilities in children from poverty-stricken areas
and those with little or no access to basic health,
social and other services, 5) displacement of
families in conflict areas, 6) continued vulnerability
of children during natural disasters, and 7)
increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency.
Obviously, a disintegration of and/or a dysfunction
in the basic institution established for the welfare
of children, which is the family, will have significant
effects in the fulfillment of child’s rights. According
to John Bradshaw, families are social systems
which follow organismic laws. It is defined by the
interaction and interrelationship of its parts rather
than the sum of its parts. When such system is out
of balance, the rest of the members of the system
will try to bring it back to balance.48
Failure to address poverty effectively and its
underlying causes such as high population growth
rate would simply mean exposing our families
and children to risks and vulnerabilities such
as unemployment/underemployment, illnesses,
disability, loss of income, low level of education,
This translates into a more burdened way of living
for millions of families and their children who are
already trapped in this cycle and who may resort
to any means just to make ends meet or simply to
forget their pain and their needs through deviant
behavior such as substance abuse or other forms
of addiction. Families that face tremendous
vulnerability to poverty will tend to depend much
on the contribution of children to the welfare of the
family, thus employing children even at a young
age to assist the family financially. This poses more
risks and possible exploitation of children such
as prostitution, trafficking and cyberpornography.
Other than that, it can also negate the fulfillment of
other rights such as rest, leisure and education. It
must be noted that though poverty may contribute
to the formation of CICL, wherein the commission
of an offense or violation is part of carrying out
one’s livelihood or an act of survival, studies show
that the parent-child interactions and relationships
still contribute largely (70% of the variability) to the
occurrence of delinquency.49
Migration has always been a more acceptable way
of addressing the economic needs of the family.
This will continue to be a trend if domestic job
opportunities being offered are not sufficient to
address the needs of the family. The accompanying
social costs of such endeavor may not be definitive
yet. However, it is certain that those children left
behind would have to deal with the loss of at
least the physical presence of one or both of their
parents, which is already a considerable loss for
Therefore, it should be seen that there are three
major influences that should be reckoned with in
shaping the future of children. First are the quality,
security and stability of families together the
dynamics of where these children are born into,
given roots, molded and set free to contribute to
society. Second is the abject poverty that subjects
these families to risks and vulnerabilities that
leave them in sub-human conditions and hence
hinder the full enjoyment of the rights of individual
members—most vulnerable of whom are the
children. Third, the value system of individuals and
collectively of society must be pondered upon and
addressed, i.e., whether the values embraced
and instilled by institutions such as media, school,
churches and families themselves contribute to
or hinder the attainment of a better future for
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Conclusions and
Poverty alleviation has been a flagship program
of government. However, this should be viewed
not just in terms of macroeconomic growth but
largely by how much an individual is able to find
opportunities for his/her advancement and reach
his/her potential, fulfill his/her dreams and be able
to contribute to society. In this regard, much reform
still needs to be done in establishing a better
welfare system for our citizens and in ensuring
equitable distribution of wealth. This also means
better social protection services for all especially
the most vulnerable and marginalized in order
for them to not simply survive but live a life with
Securing the lives of our children by safeguarding
their environment and their families through
poverty reduction and risk mitigation will provide a
better future for our citizens, where their rights to
survival, protection, development and participation
are not compromised in any way, their dignity intact
and their potential realized by contributing to the
improvement of society.
Viewed in the context of social protection, we can
see that the country has made significant inroads
in upholding children’s rights and in developing
policies and programs for children. However, a lot
still needs to be done in promoting, protecting and
fulfilling children’s rights. This job cannot be done
by government alone. Though government has a
responsibility to facilitate the realization of child’s
rights, other institutions particularly those outside
and crucial to the family, i.e., schools, church, civil
society, and the private sector, should also do their
share in social responsibility. The main objectives
of social protection are: 1) reduction of poverty,
2) protection of the poor and the vulnerable
from risks, and 3) mitigation of pressures on
households. The strategies delivered through its
components, when effectively delivered, should
meet these objectives and lessen susceptibility to
Prioritizing children’s welfare in the legislative and
development agenda must be sustained and the
following actions provide a way to move forward:
Adopt a rights- and gender-based
approach in policy formulation, program
planning and development, and
monitoring and evaluation of social
protection programs.
Scale up the Pantawid Pamilyang
Pilipino Program (4Ps) as the core social
protection program of government that
invests in human capital to break the
intergenerational cycle of poverty. Ensure
convergence of other social support
services being delivered to household
beneficiaries. Ensuring synchronicity
of programs and projects addresses
non-duplication, high impact on target
beneficiaries and better allocation of the
limited resources of government.
Use the National Housing Targeting
System database as reference in
determining priority beneficiaries of
all social protection programs being
implemented by the national government
to ensure focused targeting of vulnerable
Initiate and pursue more strategic
lobbying with lawmakers and interest
groups to facilitate the passage of bills on
anti-child pornography; decriminalization
of prostitution; age of sexual consent; and
anti-corporal punishment;
Promote and ensure the implementation
of the National Plan of Action on
Violence Against Children, which aims
to prevent and protect all children,
especially those at risk, from violence and
ensure the recovery and reintegration
of victims-survivors in their families
and communities, as well as facilitate
the rehabilitation of perpetrators of
Continue to allocate resources in order
to create better and more responsive
services for children.
Continue to sponsor and encourage the
participation of children in programs
which promote and protect their rights.
Sustain the network and partnership of
government, NGOs, and socio-civic groups
in implementing programs for children
and in advocacy work.
Continue to intensify our efforts to
establish and maintain a functional
monitoring system and database
disaggregated by age, gender, and
ethnicity, which will account for children
needing assistance and support, as well
as identify services necessary to prevent
incidences of child prostitution, child
pornography and child trafficking.
Investment in our children is a sure guarantee for
our future. Policy directions on this matter must
therefore be solid and unambiguous as to what we
hope to accomplish, and programs, activities and
resources of all sectors must be synergized for their
realization. Transparency and accountability must
be part of the culture of governance. In so doing,
prioritizing the rights and welfare of our citizens
especially that of children will become second
nature, and monitoring and reporting will only be
a way of validating the services being provided for.
Needless to say, institutional strengthening and
strong political will to carry out these endeavors are
also needed for the fulfillment of children’s rights.
Thus, it must be clearly understood that even when
opportunities for growth and adequate support are
provided for the achievement of promoting and
protecting the rights of children, success could not
be made certain and fueled without the collective
will of all stakeholders involved – both as dutybearers and as claim-holders of human rights.
Review our existing social protection
systems and mechanisms for children
to ensure that these are responsive and
cater to their best interest.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
DOJ, Protecting Filipino Children from Abuse,
Exploitation and Violence, pp. 13-16.
eLEGIS Reference System <http://childrights.
Sep%202008%29.pdf>, accessed 01 August
Svedin and Back (1996) and Hiew (1992) quoted
in Child Pornography in the Philippines, UP-CIDS
and UNICEF Manila, (2005) pp. 46-47.
Moselina, Leopoldo M., Family Well-Being and
the Rights of the Child: The Need for Stable,
Caring and Protective Family Environment in
Protecting and Fulfilling the Rights of Children.
Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC),
Violence Against Children-Philippine Report
Executive Summary.
UN-CRC, The Third and Fourth Periodic Reports
of the Philippines to the UN Committee on the
Rights of the Child, p. 43.
National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB),
2006 Official Poverty Statistics for the Basic
Sectors, June 2009 and 2006 Official Poverty
Statistics, March 2008.
Op. cit. UN-CRC, p. 95.
the_Philippines, accessed 25 August 2009.
Breaking the Rules: CICL and the Juvenile Justice
Process Experience in the Philippines. Save the
Children. 2004.
Alampay, Liane P. A Rights-Based Approach
Framework for the Prevention of Juvenile
Delinquency in Philippine Communities, UNICEF
Philippines 2005.
Op. cit. UN-CRC, p. 78.
Ibid., p. 51.
Ibid., p. 98.
Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP),
Women.pdf>, accessed 01 August 2009.
DSWD, Kalahi-CIDSS June 2009 Report
(unpublished), accessed 31 July 2009.
Unpublished Country Report in Response to
the List of Issues on the Implementation of the
Rights of Children (CRC/C/PHL/3-4) p.6 as of 31
July 2009.
DOJ, Protecting Filipino Children from Abuse,
Exploitation and Violence, p. 29.
Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD)-Policy Development and Planning
Bureau, unpublished Child Abuse Statistics as of
16 June 2009.
Op. cit., UN-CRC, p. 48.
Department of Justice (DOJ), Protecting Filipino
Children from Abuse, Exploitation and Violence:
A Comprehensive Program on Child Protection,
2006-2010, Building a Protective and Caring
Environment for the Filipino Citizen, pp.13-16
Enriquez, Jean. Documenting Cases of Violence
Against Women, Particularly Trafficking and
Prostitution, Paper presented at the 10Th
National Convention on Statistics (NCS), EDSAShangrila Hotel, 1-2 October 2007.
DSWD, Social Technology Bureau, Presentation
on Equal Sharing of Responsibilities Between
Women and Men: The Philippine Experience
(unpublished), accessed 22 December 2008.
Unpublished Country Report in Response to
the List of Issues on the Implementation of the
Rights of Children (CRC/C/PHL/3-4) p.6 as of 31
July 2009.
DSWD, Access to Justice for the Poor
Accomplishment Report, July 2008
Jimenez, Caroline. National Situation on
Trafficking in Persons. Presentation dated 16
June 2009.
DSWD, SEA-K CY 2008 Report (unpublished),
accessed 19 December 2008.
DSWD-Standards Bureau, Inventory of Social
Welfare Agencies as of 31 December 2008.
others/snc2009.pdf>, accessed 31 July 2009.
Priority 1 – top 10 food poorest provinces,
Priority 2- next top 20 food poor provinces,
Priority 3-next top 24 food poor provinces.
Rosario G. Manasan and Janet S. Cuenca, Who
Benefits from Food for School Program and
Tindahan Natin Program: Lessons in Targeting,
PIDS Discussion Paper Series No. 2007-10.
Op. cit. UN-CRC, p. 19.
Ibid., p. 14.
Review and Strengthening of the National Social
Protection and Welfare Program presented by
Sec. Romulo Neri, Cluster Head of the National
Social Welfare Program 06 July 2009.
Social Protection Index for Committed
Poverty Reduction, Asian Development Bank
(ADB),March 2008.
Bradshaw, John. Healing the Shame that Binds
You. Health Communications, Inc. Houston,
Texas. 1998.
Sampson and Laub, 1994 mentioned in
Alampay, Liane 2005.
UNICEF and Save the Children, East Asia and the
Pacific Meeting, Bangkok, March 2008, http://
pdf, accessed 19 Decem
Guidelines on the Food for School Program SY
Program Implementation Status Report from the
DSWD-Program Management Bureau dated 23
March 2009.
DepEd Press Release. Food for School
Program Improves School Attendance, Student
Performance. 14 April 2008.
Implementing Guidelines on the Tindahan Natin
Project A.O. No. 12 Series of 2006s
One TNO can serve 250 families.
Terms of Reference of the Family Access Cards
and Briefer on the Identification of Beneficiaries
of NFA Rice
Philippine Country Report to the Third World
Congress on CSEC, Brazil, November 2008
(unpublished), pp. 14-15
DSWD Annual Report 2008, p. 40.
Ibid., p. 34.
The Role of Social Protection in
Upholding Child Rights
Population and the
Future of Children
By Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia
The population issue – long settled in other
developing countries – continues to be debated
in the Philippines for two main reasons. One, of
course, is the conservative position of the Catholic
Church hierarchy, despite the view of the significant
majority of Filipinos1 that rapid population growth
is an impediment to socioeconomic development,
requiring policy intervention. Two, political leaders
tend to see the issue of no immediate or near-term
concern, i.e., not during their term of office, anyway.
Both reasons seem clearly wrong-headed, judging
from the opportunities the country has missed
which, by contrast, its Asian neighbours have
taken advantage of by dealing resolutely with their
population problem.
The first reason – the contrarian stance of the
Catholic Church hierarchy and other conservative
religious groups – is addressed in other papers
(e.g., UPSE, 2004; Pernia, 2009). Here, we focus
on the second – namely, that population is not
an immediate or short-term concern – as this
has a direct bearing on the future of children. We
argue that good population policy now is in fact an
investment in children that will be key to their wellbeing and future development.
This paper first reviews the main concerns
about high fertility and rapid population growth
that make them a public interest issue. Next,
it discusses demographic trends in relation to
poverty and hunger, access to family planning
services, human capital investment in children,
and overseas employment and children. It then
revisits the rationale for government intervention
and points out the need for an unequivocal and
coherent national population policy for effective
implementation at the local levels. The final section
summarizes and concludes.
Fertility, Population Growth, and
In discussing the population issue the concept
of externality is relevant. Positive and negative
externalities refer to the benefits and costs,
respectively, of an activity that is not fully
internalized by the one responsible for the activity.
A typical example of an activity with a positive
externality is infectious disease immunization,
and of one with a negative externality is smoke
emission. An externality represents a market failure
that warrants government intervention.
The concern about rapid population growth stems
from the notion that high fertility has negative
externalities.2 The most often cited areas of
concern are economic growth, the environment,
and poverty and income distribution (Birdsall,
First, rapid population growth constrains economic
growth, as it limits investments in physical and
human capital.3 At the household level, high
fertility tends to hamper investments in children’s
education and health. Yet endogenous growth
theory underscores the positive externalities to
economic growth of investment in human capital.
A developing country with an expanding proportion
of school-age children and limited fiscal resources
would be hard put to maintain the efficiency of
its education and health spending. The declining
quality of education in some developing countries,
including the Philippines, exemplifies this difficulty.
Put succinctly, high fertility is associated with less
education and health care per child, leading to
lower productivity of the labor force and, hence, the
social cost of slower economic growth.
Population and the Future of Children
The connection between population growth and
economic growth in the Philippines can be seen in
Figure 1. This shows the country’s: (i) annual GDP
growth rate that appears in a boom-bust pattern;
(ii) long-run average (“natural”) GDP growth rate
over the period 1970-2006 that looks virtually
flat at around 4.0 percent throughout; and (iii)
population growth rate over the same period that
diminishes slowly from 3.0 percent to 2.1 percent.
The difference between (ii) and (iii) is the long-run
(“natural”) GDP per capita growth rate averaging
1.45 percent over the three-and-a-half decades –
which is unimpressive to say the least.
Second, rapid population growth contributes to
straining the environment and natural resources,
including both sources – forests and water, and
sinks – the air that gets polluted (Birdsall, 1994).
At the local level, high fertility and poverty often
contribute to resource depletion and environmental
degradation, as population pressure induces
upland farming and the cutting of trees for
fuel (Cruz, 1992). At the global level, while the
developed countries are deemed more responsible
on a per capita basis for fossil fuel emissions that
lead to climate change, developing countries’
further population and income growth is expected
to increase their contribution to global emissions
from about one-fifth in the 1990s to one-half by
around 2050 (Birdsall and Dixon, 1991; Bongaarts,
Ensuring food availability at sustainable
environmental and economic costs is also an issue
at the global level. For instance, it is estimated that
demand for cereals will increase from two billion
tons in the early 1990s to 3.6 billion tons by 2030,
and that as much as 90 percent of the increase
will be attributable to population growth and only
10 percent to higher incomes (Cassen, 1993). The
binding constraint in developing countries will likely
be water, for which there is rising demand from
non-agricultural uses.
A case in point is the rice crisis that came to the
fore in 2008 – which is not just a supply- but also
a demand-side problem. A simple counterfactual
demand analysis is instructive. Both the Philippines
and Thailand had a population of about 37
million in 1970 and growing at 3.0 percent. If the
Philippines’ population growth had slowed at the
same rate as Thailand’s (from 3% in 1970 to about
0.7% currently), Philippine population in 2008
would only be about 66 million, not the actual 90
million. Annual rice consumption would only have
been about 13 million metric tons, instead of the
actual over 18 million metric tons. As domestic
production is 16 million metric tons, the Philippines
could have been a net exporter rather than being
the world’s largest rice importer.
Figure 1. GDP and Population Growth Rates, 1970-2006 (in percent)
Third, the relation of population growth to income
distribution and poverty appears relatively
straightforward (Pernia and Quibria, 1999). A
fast-growing population raises the supply of labor
relative to land and physical capital, thereby
depressing wages and leading to greater inequality
and poverty. The adverse effect on labor is often
worse for the less educated, unskilled workers than
for the more educated ones. The inequality issue
can be linked to economic and social reforms in
that their success depends on the extent to which
the government ensures that the costs of reform
are not unduly borne by the poor and that the
ensuing benefits are widely shared, as illustrated
by the experience of the East Asian “miracle”
countries (Birdsall, 1994). Moreover, inequality
affects economic growth directly, apart from its
impact via the difficulty of sustaining the reform
Early papers on population economics had
pointed out that high fertility reflects a rational
decision of poor parents, who derive value from
children in terms of consumption, production,
and security in old age. It had also been argued
that high fertility may represent an insurance for
parents against high infant and child mortality,
even in a setting where child survival probability
is improving but is not widely known especially
among the poor. Nevertheless, a large family size
constricts the budget of the poor for their children’s
nutrition, health care and education, resulting in
intergenerational inequality and likely perpetuation
of poverty, or what is often referred to as the
fertility-poverty vicious circle.
Demographic Trends
Unlike in many developing countries, population
growth slowdown in the Philippines has been quite
sluggish, from about 3.0 percent per annum in
the early 1970s to 2.5 percent in the mid-1980s,
thereafter levelling to 2.36 percent in 19902000.4 According to the most recent Census
(August 2007), population growth has slowed to
2.04 percent but remains among the highest in
Asia.5 By comparison, Thailand’s and Indonesia’s
population growth rates, which were similar to
the Philippines’ in the early 1970s, have fallen
sharply to 0.7% and 1.1%, respectively, in 20052007 (ADB, 2008). Table 1 presents population,
poverty and child mortality statistics on selected
Asian countries with which the Philippines is often
Table 1. Population, Poverty and Child Mortality – Selected Asian Countries
Poverty and Child Mortality
Annual growth rate
% below official
poverty line
Infant mortality
Under 5 mortality
(per 1,000 live births) (per 1,000 live births)
Source: ADB, Basic Statistics 2008 (May 2008).
Population and the Future of Children
Correspondingly, the Philippines’ total fertility rate
(TFR)6 declined from 6.0 in 1973 to 4.1 in 1993;
it was reported at 3.5 in 2003 (NDHS 2003)
and estimated at 3.3 in 2006. This compares
with Thailand’s TFR at 1.8 and Indonesia’s at
2.2, although these countries had about the
same rates in the early 1970s as the Philippines.
Only Nepal and Pakistan have higher TFRs, and
even Bangladesh and Vietnam have lower TFRs,
compared with the Philippines (Table 1). High
fertility results in high youth dependency burden –
also referred to as “demographic onus” – defined
as the ratio of the segment of the population aged
0-14 to the portion aged 15-64. This ratio (as of
2006) is 69 percent for the Philippines compared
with Thailand’s 52 percent, Indonesia’s 56 percent,
Malaysia’s 64 percent, and Nepal’s 75 percent.
As early as the 1970s-1980s, an annual population
growth of 2.0 percent or more then prevailing in
many developing countries was considered high
and more likely to impede than promote economic
development (Demeny, 1971; World Bank, 1984;
Pernia, 1987). A more recent cross-country
study by Mapa and Balisacan (2004) shows that
population growth dampens economic growth via
low saving rate and capital-to-labor shallowing.
By contrast, a faster relative expansion of the
workforce (implying “demographic bonus” due to
slower overall population growth), life expectancy
at birth (a health indicator), openness to trade,
and quality of public institutions (denoting good
governance) all exert positive and significant
effects on economic growth and poverty reduction.
Population, Poverty and Hunger
Poverty incidence in the Philippines – at 33
percent as reported in the last Family Income
and Expenditure Survey (2006) – is also among
the highest in developing Asia (Table 1). By
comparison, Thailand’s poverty incidence is down
to 9.8 percent (as of 2002) and Indonesia’s to
16.6 percent (as of 2007).7 Only Bangladesh has
a higher poverty incidence, while Nepal’s is even
lower, than the Philippines’.
As to infant and child mortality, the Philippines’
rates are better than those of the South Asian
countries and similar to Indonesia’s. But the
Philippines has clearly fallen behind Thailand,
Malaysia, and even Vietnam.
The above comparisons in demographic, poverty
and child mortality indicators are instructive. The
experience of Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam
suggests that good population policy combined
with sound economic policy, stemming from
sustained policy reform, brings about rapid
economic growth, poverty reduction and better
child survival. Meanwhile, the experience of
Indonesia, whose governance and corruption
ratings have been reported until recently to be
worse than those of the Philippines, suggests that
good population policy by itself can contribute to
significant poverty reduction (UPSE, 2004). At the
same time, Bangladesh shows that, even at low
levels of per capita income and literacy, serious
implementation of population policy can result in
sharply lower population growth and fertility rates
that, in turn, can facilitate improvements in social
Simulations in the Mapa and Balisacan study
(2004) illustrate that if the Philippines had followed
Thailand’s population growth trajectory, average
income per capita could have risen by an additional
0.76 percent per annum over the period 19752000, or a cumulative increase of 22 percent in
income per capita by 2000 – meaning a GDP per
capita in 2000 of $1,210 instead of the actual
$993 [or $4,839 instead of $3,971 in purchasing
power parity (PPP) terms]. At the same time, there
could have been basic education cost savings of
P128 billion from 1991-2000, and basic health
cost savings of P52 billion from 1996 to 2000.
Moreover, poverty incidence could have been 5.5
percent lower, and about 3.6 million more people
could have been lifted out of poverty. And the
cost savings from public education and health
services could have been used to improve the
quality of services, or to finance agricultural sector
Likewise, Reyes (2002) shows that family size is
directly related to the vulnerability to poverty or the
household’s likelihood of falling into poverty owing
to exogenous shocks, e.g., typhoons, droughts, and
consumer price increases.
investments that – along with lower population
growth – could have sharply reduced rural poverty.8
These simulation results were based on crosscountry regressions (80 developing and developed
countries). A subsequent study by Mapa (2006)
using data on Philippine provinces confirms the
“demographic dividend” that could arise from
progressively lower dependency ratio resulting from
slower population growth.
At both the macro and micro levels, the connection
between population growth (or fertility) and poverty
is strong. That poverty is more serious among
larger families than among smaller ones is further
substantiated by data showing that hunger is more
serious among the former than among the latter
(Mangahas, 2009). The SWS September 2008
survey reports that 18.4 percent of household
heads say that their families had experienced
involuntary hunger (nothing to eat) at least once
in the past three months, of which 15.2 percent
felt occasional (moderate) hunger, and 3.2 percent
suffered hunger often or always (severe hunger).
Family size (or number of children) is closely
associated with poverty incidence, as consistently
borne out by inter-temporal household data. Data
for 2000, for example, show that poverty incidence
rises monotonically from 9.8 percent for family
size of one to 57.3 percent for family size of 9+
(Table 2). Moreover, poverty incidence declined
the slowest for family size 9+, from 59.9 percent in
1985 to 57.3 percent in 2000 compared with 19
percent to 9.8 percent, respectively, for family size
Table 3 reveals the link between hunger incidence
(hunger percentages) and the number of family
members. It shows that the average hunger
incidence for the Philippines as a whole is almost
exactly the same as the rate for families of 5-6
members. And the hunger rates appear to rise
monotonically with the number of family members,
especially for severe hunger.
Applying econometric analysis to the data, Orbeta
(2005a) points out that the association between
family size and poverty incidence is robust. He finds
that an additional child adversely impacts family
welfare and that this negative effect is regressive,
i.e., the poorer the household the larger the impact.
Table 2. Poverty Incidence by Family Size
of Children
Poverty Incidence (%)
9 or more
Source: Orbeta (2004) based on NSO, Family Income and Expenditure Surveys, 1985-2000.
Population and the Future of Children
Table 3. Hunger Incidence by Number of Family
Family members Total hungry
Source: Mangahas (2009) based on SWS September 2008
Mangahas (2009, p. A11) notes, “Recently (SWS
release, Oct. 16, 2009) a survey for the Forum for
Family Planning and Development (FFPD) shows
that only 33 percent of Filipinos consider the use of
condoms, IUDs and pills as equivalent to abortion,
and that only 25 percent think that teaching family
planning in schools would lead the youth into
sexual promiscuity – which are among the main
arguments of ‘pro-lifers’ (quotation marks added)
against the Reproductive Health Bill. Is it fair to
exacerbate the problem of hunger just to soothe
the consciences of those opposed to teaching
family planning in public schools and to supplying
married couples with condoms, IUDs or pills in
government health facilities?”
Of course, poverty and hunger are also strongly
influenced by the pace of economic growth and
the movement of household incomes. Hence,
the ongoing economic downturn is likely to have
deleterious effects on the well-being of households
in terms of upticks in unemployment, poverty
and hunger. If poverty incidence did rise from 30
percent in 2003 to 33 percent in 2006 despite
the economy growing annually at 4.2-5.4 percent,
it would be safe to assume that poverty would
worsen further with the economic slowdown in
2008-2010. Persistent high fertility rates owing
to a continuing lack of access to effective family
planning information and services can only
exacerbate the poverty and hunger problems.
Access to Family Planning Services
Lower-income households do not only have more
children than richer families, they also have higher
unwanted fertility, as shown in Table 4. Wanted
versus actual fertility is reported to be 3.8 vs. 5.9
children for the bottom quintile, 2.6 vs. 3.5 for
the middle, and 1.7 vs. 2.0 for the top quintile,
such that the corresponding gaps representing
unwanted fertility are 2.1, 0.9, and 0.3.9 As
expected, the wanted-actual fertility differentials
are also evident by education level and urban/rural
Table 4. Actual and Wanted Fertility (Number
of Children) by Wealth Quintile, Education, and
Urban/Rural Location
Total Actual
Fertility Rate
Total Wanted
Fertility Rate Difference
Wealth Quintile
No education
High school
College or higher
Source: National Demographic and Health Survey 2003.
These gaps reflect considerable unmet need for
family planning services: 26.7 percent for the
bottom quintile versus 15 percent for the middle
and 12.4 percent for the top quintile (Table
5). Hence, contraceptive use or contraceptive
prevalence rate (CPR) (any method) is low overall at
48.9 percent and especially for the poorest quintile
at 37.4 percent, while CPR (modern method) is
33.4 percent overall and only 23.8 percent for the
bottom quintile (Table 6).10 Poor households mostly
depend (88.4% versus 70.1% overall) on public
sources of modern family planning methods which
are becoming scarcer with the termination of the
USAID support in 2008.
It seems clear that lack of access to family
planning services, particularly among the poor, has
resulted in more children than wanted or planned
and adequately provided for. Indeed, Orbeta
(2005b) finds that the demand for additional
children is lower among women in poorer
households than those in richer households. It
is not unusual, therefore, that many unwanted
pregnancies result in induced and illegal abortions,
estimated to be nearly half a million annually in
2000 (Juarez, Cabigon, et al., 2005).
Human Capital Investment in Children
The country’s potential for economic and social
progress of tomorrow lies in the quality of today’s
children. Rapid population growth stemming from
high fertility resulting in a fast-growing population
of children has clear implications for the quantity
and quality of public services available to children.
Accordingly, population policy and family planning
programs that enable parents to achieve the
number of children they desire and can adequately
provide for facilitate critical early human capital
“Data from many parts of the developing world
provide evidence that young children with more
young siblings have poorer long-term nutritional
outcomes than children who have fewer young
siblings. Evidence from the Philippines suggests
that these effects are not as strong for current (or
short-term) nutritional status. Although parents
allocate current household resources equitably
among children, they are unable to compensate
later-born children for the cumulative disadvantage
they suffer from having to share household
resources (not only financial, but also parental time
and attention) with more siblings than their earlierborn sisters and brothers. In particular, mother’s
time may be one of the most important constraints.
In settings where extended support systems are
weak, this often leads to poorer care when young
siblings are put in charge.”(Lloyd, 1994, p. 184)
Lloyd (1994) continues, “Parental investments in
children are highly interdependent. Good health
is a prerequisite for effective learning; it is also
strongly linked to productivity and future work roles.
For example, a study of primary-school-age children
in Nepal found a close link between a child’s
long-term nutritional status and primary school
Table 5. Unmet Need for Family Planning Services, 2003 (%)
Wealth Quintile
Unmet Need
Poor-rich ratio
Poor-rich ratio
Source: NSO, National Demographic and Health Survey 2003.
Table 5. Contraceptive Prevalence Rates, 2003 (%)
Wealth Quintile
Unmet Need
No Method
Any Method
Source: NSO, National Demographic and Health Survey 2003.
Population and the Future of Children
enrolment. In Nicaragua, children’s nutritional
status was found to be strongly linked to mean
years of educational attainment. The number
of siblings has the potential to affect children’s
schooling not only directly but also indirectly
through its effects on nutrition and health.” (pp.
Table 7 present indicators that reflect the
outcomes of early human capital investment
by the state (public services) and households
(private resources) in selected Asian countries.
In this cross section of low-fertility, high-income
and high-fertility, low-income Asian countries, the
Philippines comes out with a middling performance
in children’s health and education outcomes. For
instance, while the country has a relatively high
net enrolment rate of 93 percent in primary school,
only 75 percent of grade one pupils complete
primary education. Such completion rate is the
lowest among the high net enrolment rate Asian
Regarding nutrition and health, the proportion
of underweight children below five years of age
at 25 percent is better than that of Bangladesh,
Nepal and Pakistan but way above Malaysia’s
and Thailand’s rates. Among pre-adolescents
(11-12 years of age), 28 percent are considered
underweight, while for teens (13-19 years of age)
the rate is 18 percent (FNRI, 2007).
Overall, the data are quite disturbing, considering
that the Philippines had a distinct lead in education
and health indicators among Asian developing
countries from the early post-war years through the
1960s and 1970s. It cannot be a mere coincidence
that it is the only middle-income developing country
in Asia that has not managed to reduce fertility and
population growth rates significantly, as discussed
National government spending per capita on social
services declined in real terms from P2,487 in
1997 to P1,999 in 2004 (Manasan, 2004). For
education the decline was from P1,789 to P1,415,
and for health from P266 to P141 over the same
period. More specifically for education, annual
real spending per student in public elementary
and secondary schools dropped from P8,439 to
The downward trend in human capital investment
appears consistent with the increase in family size,
suggesting that a brighter future is unlikely to await
the poor with many children. Average spending on
education per student falls from P5,558 for family
size 1 to P682 for family size 9+, and average
health spending per capita drops from P1,700 to
P150 over that same family size range (Table 8).
Clearly, deficient early investment in human capital
has serious implications for the future of children.
Table 7. Early Human Capital Investment – Selected Asian Countries
below age 5
% 2005
% of 1 year-olds
against measles
% 2006
Literacy rate of
15—24 year-olds
% 2000—2004
Source: ADB, Basic Statistics 2008 (May 2008).
% of grade 1 pupil
complete primary
school 2004
Net enrollment ratio
in primary school
% 2005
Table 8. Mean Education and Health Expenditures by Family Size, 2002
Family Size
Mean Education Expenditure
per Student
Mean Education Expenditure
per Sick Member
Mean Education Expenditure
per Sick Member
9 or more
Source: Orbeta (2004) based on Family Income and Expenditure Surveys, 1985-2000.
Moreover, the prevalence of child labor is higher
and school attendance lower, as the number of
children in the family increases (Raymundo, 2004).
Further, the odds of a child becoming underweight
and stunted are greater if he/she belongs to a
household with five or more members (FNRI,
1998). Thus, poverty tends to be transmitted and
perpetuated from one generation to the next.
As regards the Millennium Development Goal of
Education for All by 2015, the National Statistical
Coordination Board admitted in July 2008 that the
Philippines is highly unlikely to reach the target
owing to a consistent drop in primary school
participation rate from 2002-03 to 2006-07.
Children in households belonging to the poorest
quintile obtain five years less schooling on the
average than the children of families in the top
income quintile. Of the projected 29 million
children in developing countries who would still be
out of school by 2015, more than 900,000 will be
Filipinos (UNESCO, 2008).
A further worrisome development is the reversal of
gender disparity in education, with the enrolment
rate of boys falling behind that of girls. The UNESCO
report notes that the under-enrolment of schoolage boys is true in both primary and secondary
education and is even worse at the tertiary level. It
is observed that the gender disparity is associated
with poverty, presumably exacerbated by the
number of children. This has adverse implications
for the future productivity and earnings of maleheaded households.
Overseas Labor Migration and Children
It is argued that the Philippines appears to have
been cut out as a labor exporter owing mainly
to twin policy failures that are by now stylized
facts (Pernia, 2008). On the one hand, unlike
the other East and Southeast Asian economies,
the Philippines failed to graduate in a timely
manner from its postwar import-substitution
industrialization policy toward export promotion
and economic liberalization. On the other hand,
while it was among the first in Asia to adopt a
national population policy and family planning
program in 1969, it failed to sustain the policy
such that its annual population growth remains
above two percent. As shown in Figure 1 above,
the outcome of these policy mistakes has been a
mediocre trend GDP per capita growth rate of less
than 1.5 percent from 1970 to 2006. In turn, high
unemployment and poverty rates and, in general,
diminishing living standards have pushed workers
to seek overseas employment.
While the economic benefits and costs of labor
migration are relatively well appreciated, this does
not seem to be true of the psychosocial costs to
migrants and their families (Pernia, 2008). One
early study by Fasick (1967) finds that the children
of migratory agricultural workers in the United
Population and the Future of Children
States suffer from severe educational retardation,
as they have to substitute for the work of their
absent parents. Similarly, McKenzie (2006), on the
basis of Mexican data, points out some unfavorable
effects of migration, such as on child care (less
breastfeeding and uncompleted schedule of
vaccines). In addition, parental absence due to
migration tends to have an adverse effect on the
schooling of children, particularly of the more
highly educated parents. Further, Aguilera-Guzman
et al. (2004) observe that children of migrants in
Mexico are more susceptible to such problems as
drug abuse and absenteeism or dropping out of
Crawford-Brown (1999) describes children in the
Caribbean waiting for their parents’ return or to
follow their parents abroad as “barrel children”
because they are compensated with barrels of
goods and money sent by their parents. These
children, observes Crawford-Brown and later also
Crawford-Brown and Rattray (2002), are likely
to suffer from such emotional and psychological
problems as depression, withdrawal, and runningaway behavior due to the lack of parental contact
and supervision.
Smith, Lalonde and Johnson (2004) find that
serial migration can potentially disrupt parent-child
bonding, adversely affecting the child’s self-esteem
and behavior. Moreover, they observe that time
apparently does not heal the parent-child rift once
it has occurred. Further, Suarez-Orozco, Todorova
and Louie (2002) argue that parental attempts at
long-distance relationships (e.g., via the telephone)
fall short of the objective and only result in parental
guilt and depression.
The separation of parents due to migration also
often results in family breakdown (Scalabrini
Migration Center, 2005). Apart from the
psychosocial disadvantages that befall the
children, OFWs themselves have to bear various
psychosocial costs in their workplaces. With the
feminization of migration, female overseas Filipino
workers (OFWs) in particular in various parts of
the world are subjected to violence and abuses
(Estopace, 2002). Women hired as domestic
helpers and entertainers are especially exposed to
serious hazards to health and life, including sexual
harassment and exploitation, rape, and sexually
transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS (Asis et al.,
People’s Views on the Population Issue
Pulse Asia surveys (March 2007 and October
2008) reveal that adult Filipinos’ views on the
population issue and attitudes towards family
planning (FP) have not changed much since earlier
Nearly all Filipinos nationwide and across the
broad regions and socioeconomic classes affirm
the importance of the ability to plan the family, not
only for the family’s own welfare but also for the
country’s (Table 9). Moreover, more than eight of
10 people consider it the government’s duty not
only to educate couples on FP but also to provide
services and materials for modern contraception,
both “natural” (such as lactation amenorrhea
and basal body temperature) and “artificial”
methods (such as pills, IUDs, condoms, ligation and
vasectomy). Further, close to eight of 10 Filipinos
say it is important for political candidates to include
family planning in their program, and three of four
favor candidates who support a government budget
for family planning.
A related recent SWS survey, commissioned by
FFPD referred to above, focused on people’s
views with respect to the Reproductive Health,
Responsible Parenthood and Population
Development bill (House Bill No. 5043, or RH bill
for short) still pending in Congress. The survey
had several breakdowns, such as regional (NCR,
rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, as above)
socioeconomic classes, gender, marital status,
and religion (Catholic and non-Catholic, including
degree of religiosity). On the whole, the results lend
further firm support to earlier findings.
Because the RH bill has been vehemently opposed
by the Catholic Church hierarchy and other
conservative religious groups, the survey findings
by religion are particularly instructive (Pernia,
2009). Here, we focus on a specific provision in
the RH bill that reproductive health education be
lengthily discussed above, imperfect information
is another source of market failure. Moreover,
people’s views about the population issue and the
close link between high fertility and poverty provide
further justification for population policy.
included in the school curriculum. This provision
addresses the increasing problem of teenage
pregnancies that result in school drop-out and,
hence, a potentially gloomy future of the youth.
The question asked in the survey was whether
inclusion of family planning (or reproductive health)
in the school curriculum would make the youth
sexually promiscuous (Table 10). The majority
(54%) of Filipinos disagree. This majority view is
true of Catholics (55%) even more so than nonCatholics (50%), regardless of the Catholics’ degree
of religiosity and trust in their church.11
Information about and access to family planning
services are inadequate. Low-income or less
educated couples are often ill-informed about the
health risks to both mothers and children of many
and closely-spaced births. And even those who
are sufficiently informed about the advantages
of family planning may not know how to apply
such information into practice or simply cannot
afford, or do not have access to, suitable services.
Information should enable couples to choose the
family planning methods best suited to their health
and religious beliefs.
Rationale for Population Policy
Market failure provides the rationale for
government intervention on the population issue.
Apart from the notion of externality which was
Table 9. Survey Results on Family Planning, 2008 & 2007
Views/Attitudes of Filipinos
% who think the ability to plan the family for
its welfare is important*
% who think such planning is important for country’s
% who think it is government’s duty to provide knowledge,
services and materials for modern FP methods, both
“natural” and “artificial”*
% who say it is important for candidate to include FP in
his/her program of action**
% who say they support candidates in favor of a
government budget for FP**
Rest of
Source: Pulse Asia, Ulat ng Bayan Surveys, *October 2008 and **March 2007.
Table 10: If Family Planning Would be Included in School Curriculum, Youth Would be Sexually
Promiscuous (numbers are percentages)
Trust in Catholic Church
Note: >weekly = church-goer at least once weekly; <weekly = church-goer less than once weekly.
Source: SWS Survey, September 2008.
Population and the Future of Children
Further, the large gap between wanted and actual
fertility and the high unmet need for contraception,
particularly among the poor, are cogent justification
for the government to provide effective family
planning services. These services should be
extended free to the poor. Population policy should
be made an integral part of the country’s poverty
reduction strategy.
National Population Policy
The above can be summed up as a public interest
argument that makes the need for an unequivocal
and sound population policy seem obvious.
There is, however, the deep-seated opposition
to such a policy from some religious groups. The
Catholic Church’s official position allows natural
family planning (NFP) as the only method in the
exercise of responsible parenthood. However,
NFP has not been a dependable and an effective
method. For the many poor and less educated
couples, in particular, learning and adopting NFP
is too complicated and cumbersome and requires
extraordinary discipline (UPSE, 2004).
In the first place, local government leaders typically
wait for signals or directives from the national
leadership as far as major policies are concerned. In
other words, if national leaders are lukewarm about
a major issue, why should local leaders even bother
about it? What is worse, managing population growth
at the local level may be incentive-incompatible with
internal revenue allotments (IRA) which increase with
population size, as well as with political careers that
rise with larger constituencies. Indeed, there are thus
far only a handful of LGU executives who take the
population issue seriously.
A more humane stance of the Catholic Church
hierarchy would tolerate the use of modern and
tested methods of family planning, besides NFP,
provided they do not result in abortion. “This moral
position is also pro-life, in the sense of pro-qualitylife. Each life brought into this world deserves to be
raised in a dignified, human way that the parents
are capable of, according to God’s design, and not
left to a ‘bahala-na’ attitude.” (Tanseco, 2004, p.
It is time that the Catholic Church hierarchy and
other religious groups listened to the people and
took a more tolerant and humane position on
the need for a state-supported population policy
backed by a responsive family planning program.
This type of mutual understanding has long
happened after all in other countries, including
many where Catholics predominate. Such a
tolerant stance on the part of the Church would
be in keeping with the Second Vatican Council’s
teaching that the final arbiter of moral decision is
one’s informed and responsible conscience.
The national government’s current approach
to leave the adoption of population policy and
implementation of family planning programs to local
government units (LGUs) is ill-advised and likely to
fail. It represents poor governance, to begin with
(UPSE, 2004).
Secondly, there are negative spillovers involved,
since LGU territorial boundaries are not closed and
people are geographically mobile. Thus, a town or
province with successful population management,
good economic performance, and adequate
infrastructure and social services would find itself
swamped with migrants from poorly performing
towns or provinces.
Third, population policy cannot be local in scale
or scope because varying fiscal resources and
technical capabilities among LGUs militate against its
consistent and effective implementation.
For these reasons, the national government cannot
simply pass the buck on this important responsibility
to LGUs. It must assume leadership in coming
up with an unequivocal and coherent national
population policy, backed by adequately funded
family planning programs that provide accurate
information and enable easy access to all methods
of choice, especially for the poor. Then, it must enjoin
all LGUs to carry out the programs on the ground.
Elements of an Effective Population Policy
Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
The sources of future population growth and
their respective contributions are: unwanted
fertility – 16 percent; desired family size – 19
percent; and population momentum – 65 percent
(Herrin and Costello, 1996). This suggests that
the key objectives and instruments of an effective
population policy are:
While bad governance and corruption explain a
good deal of the Philippines’ slow economic growth,
worsening inequality and persistent poverty, high
fertility resulting in rapid population growth has
been an important contributory factor. Having
more children than desired in poor households
is attributable to lack of information about and
access to modern and effective methods of
contraception. Unwanted pregnancies lead to
induced and illegal abortions. The larger desired
number of children in poor households than in
higher-income families could be gradually reduced
by education and gainful employment of women,
that raise the cost of having children and parents’
motivation to invest in children.
First is to reduce unwanted fertility (or
to meet unmet needs for contraception)
through a strong national family planning
program, i.e., one that allows a choice
among both traditional (“natural”)
and modern (“artificial”) methods of
contraception. Family planning services,
comprising information and contraceptive
methods, should be made readily
available – free or at low cost – to lowincome couples who want such services.
Second, raising the quality of basic
education, reducing infant mortality,
fostering women’s empowerment, and
increasing employment opportunities
for women are desirable goals in
themselves. The side effects of these
improvements would include a desire for
smaller families, thereby reinforcing the
downward trend in fertility and resulting in
a virtuous circle.
Third, women’s empowerment and job
opportunities are also likely to result in
later childbearing and wider birth spacing
that slow population momentum. Slowing
population momentum, like the first and
second objectives, also requires fully
responsive and effective family planning
A good family planning program coupled with
education and job opportunities for women is
the effective way out of the vicious circle of high
fertility and poverty. It can be a powerful instrument
that facilitates investments by both parents and
the government in the human capital of children,
thereby enabling them to achieve their full potential
and enhancing the future prospects of society at
The foregoing clearly suggests that a coherent
population policy must be part of good governance
to accelerate economic growth, lessen inequality,
hasten poverty reduction, and invest strongly in the
next generation. A national population policy, at
the core of which is a well-funded family planning
program that provides accurate information and
access to all methods of contraception, is propoor, pro-women, pro-children, pro-people, and
pro-life (UPSE, 2004). Family planning programs
at the local level as well as various private sector
initiatives to address the population issue are
likely to become more effective under a national
population policy framework.
These measures are mutually reinforcing and,
if backed by appropriate policy reforms in the
economic and other social sectors, would
bring about the best results. In this regard, the
Reproductive Health (RH) bill still pending in
Congress, if passed into law, would become a
principal instrument of national population policy
(UPSE, 2008).13
Population and the Future of Children
Upwards of 70 percent across the broad
regions and socioeconomic classes, according
to Pulse Asia and SWS surveys over the past
several years, as will be elaborated below.
A foremost exponent of the contrarian view
was the late Julian Simon whose book
(1977) focuses on the positive externalities
of population growth in a very long-run
Some economists, however, argue that such
negative effect should not be a concern, as
parents may be fully aware of the private and
social costs of children and yet would rather
have more children than consume more
goods or services – the notion of consumer
sovereignty. Hence, even though it hampers
economic growth, rapid population growth may
be socially optimal (Lee, 1991).
incidence is defined as the proportion of the
population below a government-set poverty
line. Household poverty incidence – which has
recently been the preferred indicator of the
Philippine government – is, by definition, lower.
It should be noted that the above estimates
are pure demographic effects and, hence,
conservative as they do not fully capture
the population-economy-poverty-reduction
interaction effects.
“In the 2003 NDHS, women were asked
a series of questions about each child
born in the preceding five years and any
current pregnancy, to determine whether
the pregnancy was wanted then, wanted
at a later time, or unwanted…The danger
of rationalization is present; an unwanted
conception may well have become a cherished
child… Respondents are willing to report
unwanted conceptions, although some
postpartum rationalization probably occurs.
The result is probably an underestimate of
unwanted fertility.” (NSO, 2004, p. 100).
By contrast, overall CPR in Thailand and
Indonesia has been around 70 percent.
Note that the “undecideds” range from 16
percent to 28 percent.
Note that birth spacing is about the only
measure that President Arroyo favors;
however, without an effective family planning
program, even that is meaningless lip service.
Reinforcing the positive results of earlier
surveys on population and family planning ,
in general, as shown, for example, in Table 10
above, the most recent (September-October
2008) SWS survey results show very strong
support among Catholics and non-Catholics
alike for the RH bill, including the specific
provision on sexuality education in public and
private upper-primary and high schools.
It is interesting that the pace of the country ’s
population growth deceleration corresponded
to the relative waxing and waning of its
population program (Orbeta and Pernia, 1999;
Herrin and Pernia, 2003).
The likelihood of a population undercount
during the 2007 Census should be noted,
based on reports that enumerators had
difficulty accessing depressed areas owing
to the fear of residents that the census was
being undertaken as part of a government
plan to relocate squatters to give way to
infrastructure projects. Hence, a current
population growth rate of 2.1 percent rather
than 2.04 percent is probably more realistic.
TFR is the number of births a woman would
have on average at the end of her reproductive
life if she were subject to the prevailing
age-specific fertility rates throughout her
reproductive years (15-49).
These are official poverty-incidence numbers
from respective government statistical
agencies, as reported in ADB (2007). Poverty
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C. Solon, E. A. Tan, G. R. Tecson). (2004, December).
Population and Poverty: The Real Score. Discussion
Paper No. 0415.
UP School of Economics (UPSE: E. M. Pernia, S.
Alabastro-Quimbo, M. J. V. Abrenica, R. P. Alonzo, A. L.
Arcenas, A. M. Balisacan, D. B. Canlas, J. J. Capuno,
R. L. Clarete, R. A. Danao, E. S. de Dios, A. dela
Paz-Kraft, B. E. Diokno, E. F. Esguerra, R. V. Fabella,
M. S. Gochoco-Bautista, T. J. Ho, D. C. S. Mapa, F.
M. Medalla, M. N. F. Mendoza, S. C. Monsod, T. M.
C. Monsod, F. Natividad-Carlos, C. W. Paderanga,
G. P. Sicat, O. C. Solon, E. A. Tan, & G. R. Tecson).
(2008, August). Population, Poverty, Politics, and the
Reproductive Health Bill.
World Bank. (1984). World Development Report 1984.
New York: Oxford University Press.
Population and the Future of Children
Food Security of Filipino
Children in the Medium Term
By Dr. Emil Q. Javier, Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, Dr. Mercedita A. Sombilla
and Ms. Rizza M. Trumata.
Sufficient nutritious food is essential for people
to live healthy, happy and productive lives. Lack
of proper nutrition especially among the young
can lead to premature death, as their immune
system against diseases is compromised and those
who survive become stunted for life physically,
mentally and psychologically. Malnourished
children in time become parents themselves who,
however, are not sufficiently gainfully employed
to provide adequately for their children. Thus, the
intergenerational cycle of food deprivation and
poverty is perpetuated.
One of the fundamental rights of children
stipulated in the Philippine National Strategic
Framework for Plan Development for Children,
otherwise known as Children 21, is the right to
have enough food for a healthy and active body.
This paper attempts to describe the Filipino
children’s state of nutrition, the relevance of the UN
Millennium Development Goals to the attainment
of food security, and what we, our government,
industry and the private sector, and society at
large, can do to assure them of their basic human
right to sufficient and nutritious food, i.e., the right
to be food secure.
What is Food Security?
Food security is defined as a “situation when all
people, at all times, have physical, social and
economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious
food that meets their dietary needs and food
preferences for an active and healthy life in a
sustainable manner” (FAO, 2001).
Our own Congress through the Agriculture and
Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (AFMA)
described food security in its totality as “the policy
objective, plan and strategy of meeting the food
requirements of the present and future generations
of Filipinos in substantial quantity, ensuring the
availability and affordability to all, either through
local production or importation or both based
on the country’s existing and potential resource
endowment and related production advantages,
and consistent with the overall national
development objectives and policies.”
However, to achieve universal food security, at
least three conditions need to be met. First, the
food must be physically available in the country
in sufficient quantities either from domestic
production and/or imports. Second, making more
food available is a necessary but not significant
condition for food security (IFPRI, 2000a); all the
households and all the individual members of the
households must have access to the food. The
households must have assets, livelihoods and
incomes with which to produce and/or purchase
the food. And third, the household members must
be able to biologically utilize the food, meaning
their diets are appropriately balanced. Since
mothers purchase and prepare the food for the
households, investing in improving education and
status of women is very important. Studies have
shown that 55 percent of the reduction in child
malnutrition in the developing world could be
attributed to the education of women (PinstrupAndersen, et al., 2001). And people must be free
from disease. People who do not have access
to potable water and are living in unsanitary
conditions suffer from diarrhea and other
debilitating illnesses, rendering the available food
ineffective, i.e., people may not be hungry but still
There are many nuances to the long definition of
food security and the enabling conditions of food
availability, accessibility and proper utilization. For
our country, the bottom line is, we must produce
as much as food as we sustainably can, source the
rest from abroad, and create jobs and livelihoods
to provide our people, particularly the poor, the
means to purchase food.
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
Filipino Children’s State of
Table 2. Undernutrition among children 0-5 years
old, 2003 (%).
The human body requires energy, protein,
vitamins and minerals for growth, for work, and
for maintenance of body functions. The nature
of food security can be defined more precisely by
the degree by which the body requirements for
these essential food elements are met. The more
common measures have to do with energy and
protein, Vitamin A, iron and iodine adequacy.
Nutrient Adequacy. The nutrient adequacy of
the diet of Filipino children aged 0 to 5 years in
the national nutrition surveys of 2003 (NNS) is
summarized in Table 1. The corresponding figures
for the entire household (i.e., adults) are likewise
shown to bring home the point that even though
children and adults need the same food nutrients,
their percent adequacy could be different and,
therefore, the needed interventions could be
Table 1. Mean one-day energy and nutrient
adequacy of children (0-5 years ) and
households, 2003.
% Adequacy
Energy (Kcal)
Iron (g)
Calcium (g)
Protein (g)
Vit A (mg RE)
Thiamin (mg)
Riboflavin (mg)
Niacin (mg)
Ascorbic Acid (mg)
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Filipino children on the average do not consume
sufficient energy, iron, calcium, and vitamin
A. However, their intakes of protein, thiamin,
riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid are adequate.
The households (i.e., adults) that take in excess
niacin, are marginally adequate for energy
and protein, and deficient in all the rest. The
consequences of lack of proper nutrition among
children are captured in weight and height for age
and weight for height measurements (Table 2).
for Age
for Age
for Height
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Easily a quarter to a third of all Filipino
children below five years are small for their
age (underweight and underheight). The
undernourishment increases sharply during the
second year after the babies are weaned from
their mothers’ breasts and from milk feeding. The
condition of thinness (underweight for height) is
worse during the second year and abates onwards.
Anemia. Iron deficiency (anemia) is prevalent
among Filipino children (Table 3). Two-thirds of
infants below one year are anemic. This condition
is related to the nutrition of mothers before and
after pregnancy. Babies with low birth weights
have lower iron stores, but they grow faster during
infancy to make up for “lost” weight; consequently
their iron stores are depleted by age 2-3 months.
The lack of iron is further exacerbated by Helminth
worm infection which could be as high as 60
percent for 0-5 year olds.
Table 3. Prevalence of anemia among children,
2003 (%).
Age (Years)
Prevalence (%)
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
But even more alarming is the rise of incidence
of anemia among infants, from 49.2 percent in
1993 to 65.9 percent in 2003 (Table 4). During
this period there was a marginal improvement for
the 6-12 year olds (from 42.0% down to 37.4%) but
anemia incidence got worse for the 1-5 year olds
(25.7% to 29.1%). Thus, sadly we are losing the
campaign against anemia.
Table 4. Prevalence of anemia among children,
2003 (%).
Year Old
Years Old
Years Old
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Table 5. Breastfeeding of children, 2003 (%)
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
A large part of the nutrient deficiencies among
children can be explained by the drastic reduction
of consumption of milk and milk products (Table 6).
The daily milk consumption of infants 6-11 months
old was 726 gms equivalent of whole milk. This
drops dramatically to 276 gms per day for 2-3 year
olds. By the time they are five years old, the intake
is down to 89 gms.
Table 6. Daily consumption of milk and milk
products by age group, 2003.
Age (Months)
Breastfeeding. The essential nutrients Filipino
children lack, particularly protein, calcium and B
vitamins, are found in milk. Thus, the most direct
intervention is to encourage mothers to breastfeed
their babies as long as they could. Unfortunately,
breastfeeding among Filipino mothers leaves
much to be desired (Table 5). Right after birth (<2
months old), 20 percent of mothers, for all kinds of
reasons, do not nurse their babies anymore. Only
42 percent exclusively breastfeed their children.
By the sixth and seventh months, less than one
percent of mothers exclusively breastfeed.
Age in Months
Beyond mother’s milk, the child’s daily food intake
comes from milk and milk products (31%); cereals
and cereals products, mostly rice (30%); meats,
fish and eggs (17%); and fruits and vegetables
Milk Consumption
(Whole milk, equivalent, gms)
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
The sources of nutrition of infants up to nine
months old can be gleaned from the observed
infant feeding practices (Table 7). By the time
the infants are 6-9 months old, 35 percent (35%)
do not receive mother’s milk anymore. The rest,
62 percent, are partially breastfed but receive
complementary weaning food.
Table 7. Infant Feeding Practices, 2003 (%)
Months Old
Months Old
Exclusive BF
BF + water only
BF + other milk
BF + complementary food
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Thus, the approaches to improve children’s
nutrition have to include first, encouraging mothers
to breastfeed as long as they could; second,
continuing the provision of supplemental milk
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
and milk products to children as long as possible;
and third, educating the mothers to feed their
infants with bigger amounts of sanitary nutritious
complementary foods as early as possible.
Vitamin A Deficiency. No progress has been
achieved in combating vitamin A deficiency (VAD)
among children since 1993, in spite of the national
program of twice yearly vitamin A supplementation
(Table 8). In fact, it has gotten even a little worse.
Those with very low serum retinol (SR < 10 ug/
dl) declined marginally from 10.4 percent to 8.5
percent from 1993 to 2003 but those with SR <
20 ug/dl rose from 35.3 percent to 40.1 percent.
Thus, in the aggregate the incidence of low SR
increased from 45.7 percent to 48.6 percent
during the 10-year period.
Table 8. Prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency
among 0-5 year old children, 1993-2003(%).
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
The administration of 200,000 IUs of vitamin A
increased serum retinol but the impact of vitamin
A supplementation could not be sustained for
a full 16 weeks. Three to four months after
administration of vitamin A capsules, the
prevalence of VAD increased. Thus it appears that
the current vitamin A supplementation schedule is
inadequate to sustain the desired vitamin A status
beyond 6 months of age in high risk populations.
Iodine Nutrition. The picture for iodine adequacy
is much better. The latest NNS figures show
significant improvement in iodine nutrition. The
median urinary iodine excretion (UIE) among
children 6-12 years old increased to 201 ug/L
in 2003 from 71 ug/L in 1998 (Table 9). This is
attributed to the salt iodization program (ASIN Law).
Table 9. Iodine status of children 6-12 years old,
1998 and 2003 (ug/L).
Urinary Iodine
Excretion (UIE)
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
For once we have a law which very substantially
achieves its stated objective. In fact, it is so
effective that nutritionists are worried we are
overdoing it. The proportion of children with
excessive UIE (>300 ug/L) rose from 0.1 percent
to 14.3 percent. Therefore, compliance must be
monitored so that iodation levels are kept within
the 40 ppm recommendation.
Maternal Health and Nutrition. The nutrition of the
mother is a significant determinant of birth weight
and the infant’s health and nutritional well-being.
In 2003, 27 percent of pregnant women were
nutritionally at risk of delivering low birth weight
babies (Table 10). There was a little improvement
between the 1998 and 2003 national surveys.
Table 10. Nutrition of pregnant women,
2003 (%).
Nutrition Status
Nutritionally at Risk
Not Nutritionally at Risk
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Similarly, among lactating mothers in 2003, those
who were chronically energy deficient (CED) and
therefore had compromised caring capacities
marginally declined from 13 percent to 12 percent
(Table 11). Moreover, the proportion of overweight
mothers increased from 14 percent to 18 percent
between the 1998 and 2003 surveys. Obesity
among mothers appears to be an emerging
Chronically Energy Deficit (CED)
Nutrition Status
Deficient and Low
Deficient and Low
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Table 11. Nutrition of lactating mothers,
2003 (%).
Nutrition Status
Table 13. Vitamin A deficiency among pregnant
and lactating mothers, 2003 (%).
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
The severity of anemia among children is mirrored
in the iron status of pregnant and lactating mothers
(Table 12). About 42-44 percent of mothers are
anemic, and no improvement had been achieved
between 1993 and 2003.
Table 12. Prevalence of anemia among pregnant
and lactating mothers, 2003 (%).
Source: 6th National Nutrition Surveys.
Likewise vitamin A deficiency among pregnant
and lactating mothers continues to be high and
worsening (Table 13). Pregnant mothers deficient
and low in vitamin A constituted 18 percent of the
population in 2003, a little worse than in 1993
(16%). The proportion of lactating mothers deficient
and low in vitamin A got worse from 15 percent in
1993 to 20 percent in 2003.
Summary. In summary, the average Filipino child
in 2003 does not consume enough energy, iron,
calcium, and vitamin A. The adequacy for protein
is 103 percent, but that does not imply protein
malnourishment is not a problem for many children
because deficiencies are obscured by the average.
The same is true for ascorbic acid which has an
average adequacy of 106 percent.
On the other hand, the Filipino child’s intake of the
essential vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin is
The consequences of lack of proper nutrition are
captured in weight, height and thinness statistics.
At age five, 27 percent of Filipino children are
underweight for age, 38 percent are underheight
for age, and 3 percent are considered thin.
The critical age is the first twelve months when
prevalence of underweight for age and underheight
for age triples. The prevalence of thinness
(underweight for height) is worse among one-yearolds (12%) but diminishes afterwards.
Anemia (iron deficiency) is very prevalent among
Filipino children. A whopping 66 percent of infants
below one year are anemic.
We are losing the campaign against anemia.
Incidence of anemia among infants got worse from
49 percent to 66 percent. Anemia among 6- to12year-olds marginally improved from 42 percent
down to 37 percent between 1993 to 2003 but
anemia incidence increased among 1- to 5-yearolds from 26 percent to 29 percent.
No progress had been achieved in combating
vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among children 0-5
years old since 1993 in spite of the national
program of twice yearly vitamin A supplementation.
The aggregate incidence of low serum retinol in fact
increased from 46 percent to 48 percent.
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
The serum retinol levels after vitamin A
supplementation could not be sustained for a full
16 weeks. Thus, the current program of vitamin
A supplementation is inadequate to attain the
desired vitamin A status beyond six months of age
in high risk populations.
The only bright picture is in iodine nutrition. For
once we have a law that achieves its desired
objective. With the implementation of the salt
iodization program under the ASIN law, median
urinary iodine excretion dramatically doubled from
71 ug/L in 1998 to 201 ug/L in 2003. The program
had been so effective that our nutritionists are now
worried we are overdoing it.
The essential nutrients Filipino children lack,
particularly protein, calcium, and B vitamins, are
found in milk. Thus, the most direct intervention is
to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies
as long as possible. Unfortunately, breastfeeding
is not that popular among Filipino mothers. By the
sixth or seventh month, less than one percent of
mothers exclusively breastfeed their children.
Beyond mother’s milk, the child’s daily food intake
comes from milk and milk products (31%); cereals
(mostly rice) and cereal products (30%); meats, fish
and eggs (17%); and fruits and vegetables (10%).
A large part of the nutrient deficiencies among
children can be explained by the drastic reduction
in consumption of milk and milk products starting
the second year. Thus, a carefully targeted school
milk-feeding program should be part of the total
approach to food security for the most vulnerable
Since almost all our milk is imported (>99%), the
practice of importing relatively inexpensive skim
milk powder and reconstituting it with the healthier
home-grown coconut oil makes both economic and
nutritional sense. The school milk program need
not be based on fresh cow or carabao milk which is
very expensive.
By the time infants are six to nine months old,
62 percent obtain supplemental nutrition from
complementary food, i.e., home-prepared mashed
baby foods from rice, meat, fish, eggs and some
fruits and vegetables. Mothers, therefore, should
be educated and exhorted to feed their children
with bigger amounts of nutritious but sanitary
mashed complementary weaning foods.
The nutrition of pregnant and lactating mothers is
a significant determinant of birth weight and the
child’s health and nutritional well-being. Twentyseven percent of pregnant mothers are nutritionally
at risk of delivering low birth-weight babies. Twelve
percent are chronically energy deficient among
lactating mothers. In both measures little progress
was achieved between 1998 to 2003.
About 42-44 percent of mothers are anemic, and
no gains were achieved between 1998 to 2003.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among mothers, instead
of diminishing, in fact has gotten worse. The
prevalence of VAD for pregnant mothers stood
at 18 percent, and for lactating mothers, at 20
percent in 2003.
Food Security and the UN
Millennium Development Goals
There is perhaps no human state more bereft
of decency and dignity than being incapable of
feeding oneself or one’s family (UNCT Philippines,
Sadly the unconscionable condition of lack of food
continues to affect 923 million people in the world
(FAO, 2008).
The world community during the World Food
Summit in 1996 resolved to address the challenge
of global hunger by setting as a goal the halving
of chronically malnourished people by 2015. This
ambition was subsequently enshrined in the UN
Millennium Development Goals (Table 14), the first
of which was to halve the number of people living
in extreme poverty and hunger.
Poverty and hunger are two different social
phenomena but they are invariably linked together.
Undernourishment is a central manifestation
of poverty (FAO, 2002). The most food insecure
people are invariably those mired in poverty. Thus,
the major indicators in measuring progress towards
achieving the MD Goal No. 1 of eliminating extreme
poverty and hunger have to do with food security
particularly among children.
Table 14. UN Millennium Development Goals.
Goal 1
Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Goal 2
Achieve Universal Primary Education
Goal 3
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Goal 4
Reduce Child Mortality
Goal 5
Improve Maternal Health
Goal 6
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Goal 7
Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal 8
Develop a Global Partnership for Development
The rest of the thematic MDGs, i.e., Goals 2 to
7, nevertheless are very much related to proper
nutrition and food security. They are in fact
highly correlated, interdependent and mutually
reinforcing. Many of the other MDGs are next to
impossible to attain without reducing malnutrition
and hunger. And conversely, achieving these MDGs
will facilitate attaining the goal of eradicating
hunger and poverty.
For example the participation rates in primary
school (Goal No. 2) have been observed to be
inversely correlated with incidence rates of
subsistence and absolute poverty. One of the
major causes of high children mortality (Goal
No. 4) is lack of proper nutrition and consequent
susceptibility to diseases.
Children are absolutely dependent upon their
mothers for nourishment, early education and
care. Malnourished mothers are sickly and some
die prematurely during childbirth (Goal No. 5).
They give birth to babies who are underweight and
prone to diseases (Goal No. 4). Women, therefore,
must be empowered with better education and
opportunities in life (Goal No. 3) to make them
more fit mothers who will rear the next generation
of healthy, alert and smart children.
And finally, children need access to potable water
and sanitary living conditions (Goal No. 7) to save
them from diarrhea and other debilitating diseases
(Goal No. 6) which render available food ineffective.
Philippine Progress Towards
Attaining the MDGs
The Philippines as a responsible member of the
world community subscribes to the attainment
of the UN MDGs and has mainstreamed them in
national economic and social planning. Following
is the country’s Mid-Term Progress Report (2007)
on attainment of the MDGs which was prepared
by NEDA and the resident United Nations Country
Team (UNCT).
Table 15 tabulates the Philippine 1990 baseline,
current (year closest to 2006) achievement and
target for 2015 for each of the proxy measures
for MDGs 1 to 7. The current rate of progress
(year closest to 2006) is indicated, as well as the
required rate of progress between 2006 to 2015 to
attain the 2015 target. To arrive at the probability
of attaining the MDG targets, the required rate of
progress for the remaining period (2006 to 2015)
is divided by the current achieved rate (1990
to 2006). If the ratio is < 1.5, the probability is
deemed HIGH; if >2.0, LOW; and MEDIUM if in
Eradicating Extreme Hunger and Poverty (MD
Goal 1). The MDG of most direct relevance to
the food security of Filipinos including children is
MDG 1. The degree of food security is captured in
the proportion of families and population below
subsistence threshold which is defined as those
not having enough means to acquire their basic
food needs. At the baseline period of 1990,
20.4 percent of Filipino families were below the
subsistence threshold. By 2003, this proportion
had been halved to 10.2 percent, fulfilling the MDG
target much ahead of schedule
The actual proportion of individuals in the entire
population below the subsistence threshold is
a little higher than the proportion of families
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
Table 15. Philippines MDG rate of progress at the national level.
MDG Goals and Targets
Current Level
(year closest
to 2006)
Target by
Average Rate of Progress
Ratio of
1990—2006 2010—2015 Required Rate of Attaining
to Current
Current (b)
Current (a)
Goal 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Proportion of families below
subsistence threshold (%)
Proportion of families below
poverty threshold (%)
Proportion of population
below subsistence threshold (%)
Proportion of population
below poverty threshold (%)
Prevalence of malnutrition
among 0-5 year old children (%)
Proportion of households
with per capita intake below
100 percent dietary energy
requirement (%)
Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education
Elementary participation (%)
Elementary cohort survival (%)
Elementary completion rate (%)
Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women*
Ratio of girls to boys in
primary education
Ratio of girls to boys in
secondary education
Ratio of girls to boys in
tertiary education
Under 5 mortality rate
(per 1,000 live births)
Infant mortality rate
(per 1,000 live births)
Goal 4. Reduce child mortality
* From NSCB, 2009. All data except for Goal 3 from NEDA, 2007.
continued... Table 15. Philippines MDG rate of progress at the national level.
MDG Goals and Targets
Current Level
(year closest
to 2006)
Target by
Average Rate of Progress
Ratio of
1990—2006 2010—2015 Required Rate of Attaining
to Current
Current (b)
Current (a)
Goal 5. Improve maternal health
Maternal mortality ratio,
per 100,000 live births
Prevalence rate of couples
practicing responsible
parenthood (%)
Goal 6. Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
HIV prevalence
Malaria morbidity rate
(per 100,000 population)
< 1%
< 1%
Goal 7. Ensure environmental sustainability
Proportion of households with
access to safe drinking water (%)
Proportion of households with
sanitary toilet facility (%)
Source: Philippines Midterm Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals (NEDA, 2007).
Probability of attaining target:
Required Rate (b) ÷ Current Rate (a)
If < 1.5 HIGH
1.5 to 2.0 MEDIUM
> 2.0 LOW
in a similar situation, because poorer families
or households tend to have more members, i.e.,
more children compared with richer households.
The corresponding proportion of population below
subsistence was 24.3 percent in 1990, down to 13.5
percent in 2003, almost meeting the modest MDG
target ahead of schedule.
The subsistence threshold and the country-defined
poverty threshold are highly linked indicators. Simply
put, those who do not have enough to eat are also
those who are very poor. The proportions of families
and individuals below the poverty threshold are
about 10-20 percent higher than those below the
subsistence threshold.
For the most vulnerable age group, i.e., children aged
0-5 years, a quarter (24.6%) were malnourished
(underweight) as of 2006, down from 34.5 percent
in 1990. The target for 2015 is 17.2 percent.
Since energy by and large is the first major limiting
food constituent, food security is commonly
benchmarked against the minimum dietary energy
requirement which for Filipinos is modestly set
at 1711 K cal per capita per day1. The degree of
insufficiency for energy in 1990 was a very high
69.4 percent. It went down to 56.9 percent in
2006, against the 2015 target of 34.7 percent.
Respectable average rates of progress were
achieved for the MD Goal 1 indicators during
the period 1990 to 2006. The required rates of
progress for the remaining five years (2010-2015)
are well within what had been achieved. The ratios
of the required rates over the current are all less
than 1.5 and, therefore, the probability of attaining
the pronounced targets by 2015 are all rated HIGH.
Achieving Universal Primary Education (MD Goal
2). The most problematic among the MDGs as
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
far as the Philippines is concerned is the one
that appears to be most straightforward – the
participation rate in elementary education.
One would assume that it is simply a matter of
constructing new school buildings and hiring new
teachers every year to accommodate new school
The shortfall in universal primary education is
particularly bothersome for two reasons. First,
elementary education for the entire population is a
basic precondition for economic progress. For any
country to move forward on a sustained basis, it
must have a reasonably well-educated workforce.
Worse, the achieved rates of progress since
1990 are close to zero. Rate of progress must
be multiplied 12 to 29 times if the modest 2015
target of 81 percent were to be met. Participation,
cohort survival and completion rate ought to be
close to 100 percent. Thus, the likelihood that the
country will attain the MDG elementary education
targets is LOW.
Promoting Gender Equality and Empower Women
(MD Goal 3). The Philippines can be justifiably
proud of its achievements in promoting gender
equality. The most significant indicators are the
ratios of girls to boys (gender parity indices) in
school enrollment. Even at the baseline year 1990,
the gender parity indices were 1.0, 1.1 and 1.3,
respectively, for elementary, secondary and tertiary
education, all in favor of women.
Thus, attention is being directed at some other
indicators such as gender-based violence, human
trafficking, and wage levels.
Reducing Child Mortality (MD Goal 4). Child under
five mortality rate was 80 per 1,000 live births in
1990. This was brought down to 42 in 2003 and
further down to 32 in 2006, a total decline of 60
percent. The likelihood of attaining the 2015 target
of 27 per 1,000 live births is therefore HIGH.
Infant mortality, on the other hand, started at
the 1990 baseline of 57 per 1,000 live births. It
declined to 30 in 2003 and further down to 24 in
2006, a total decline of 58 percent. The likelihood
of attaining the 2015 target of 19 per 1,000 live
births is also HIGH.
However, these mortality figures are higher than
comparable figures from our neighbors.
Improving Maternal Health (MD Goal 5). The
Philippines keeps track of MD Goal 5 by: 1) the
number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live
births (MMR), and 2) access to reproductive health
services, specifically the prevalence rate of couples
practicing responsible parenthood.
NEDA (2007) concedes that the maternal health
indicator is disturbing. MMR was 209 deaths per
100,000 live births at the baseline, went down to
172 deaths by 2003, and then slowed down to 162
deaths in 2006. NEDA concludes further that this
goal is very highly unlikely to be achieved by the
Out of 3 million pregnancies each year, half
are unplanned and one-third end in abortions.
Induced abortion is the fourth leading cause of
maternal deaths. Most of the poor give birth at
home, and they do not have access to skilled birth
attendants. Mothers must have more access to
prenatal and postnatal services, and more skilled
birth attendants need to be trained to significantly
reduce MMR.
The target for prevalence rate of couples practicing
responsible parenthood was set at 80 percent,
from a low base of 40 percent in 1990. This rose
modestly to 51 percent in 2006. The average rate
of progress needs to be scaled up four times to
achieve the 2015 target. Thus, the probability
of reaching the target is LOW, unless a national
consensus is forged very soon to move ahead
with the needed policies and programs on fertility,
family planning and population management.
Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
(MD Goal 6). HIV/AIDS prevalence is < 1%, and
the Philippine government intends to keep it
that way. Malaria, the sixth leading caused of
morbidity, is the more pressing health concern.
Malaria morbidity declined from 123 per 100,000
population in 1990 to 59 in 2006. The country is
on track for attaining the target of 24 per 100,000
population by 2015.
Ensuring Environmental Sustainability (MD Goal
7). Among the plethora of possible environmental
sustainability indicators, the Philippine plan zeroed
in on raising the proportion of households with
access to potable water and households with
sanitary toilet facility. Both have been essentially
achieved in 2006. The updated Philippine mediumterm plan had in fact raised the targets to 92
percent and 91 percent for safe drinking water and
sanitary toilet facilities, respectively.
Megatrends and Their Resonance
to Food Security of the Filipino
Child in the 21st Century
A number of global developments will impact
on the demand, supply and trading of the major
food commodities. They have acute short-term
consequences as well as long-term impact on
the resilience of the world food system. They
will ultimately affect physical availability of food
at the country level as well as access to food by
households and members of the households
including children. As a member of the world
community, the Philippines cannot escape the farreaching effects of these phenomena.
Globalization. The lowering of barriers to movement
of products, services, workers and investments
across national borders is effectively integrating
food, energy, technology and finance into
interlocking global systems.
In recent years, global stocks of the major food
commodities reached historic lows causing
food prices to rise. This was exacerbated by the
shift of maize and soybean supplies in the US
and sugarcane in Brazil for biofuel production,
contributing to as much as 30 percent of the
weighted average increase in world grain prices
from 2000 to 2007 (Rosegrant, 2008). The
volatility and sharp rise in the price of oil made
speculators shift their investment portfolios
from energy to food commodity trading, further
intensifying the pressure on world food prices.
Producer countries anxious to keep domestic
prices low made the situation worse by suspending
food exports.
Rice, which the Philippines used to import at
US$200-300 per ton, skyrocketed to US$800 per
ton, causing large losses to the National Food
Authority (NFA) which is tasked to maintain the
supply and price of domestic rice.
Without global and regional food buffer stocks and
more coherent, coordinated global governance and
responses in place, more of these food supply and
price shocks could be expected in the future. The
Philippines, which imports huge amounts of rice,
wheat, milk and ruminant meats, should be ready
with substitutes and contingency plans for these
Moreover, the Philippines is comparably a highcost food producer. With the elimination of tariff
barriers, Philippine produce is in danger of being
overwhelmed by cheap food imports. The Philippine
food sector must increase land, labor and input
productivity as well as mitigate losses to bring
unit production and marketing costs down to stay
Population Growth. World demand for food is
expected to continue to rise because of continuing
population growth as well as income growth in
the developing countries, at a time when global
agricultural productivity is stagnating and natural
resources bases are becoming overexploited.
Without significant new investments in rural
infrastructure and in agricultural scientific
research and innovation, global cereal demand
will continue to outstrip cereal production, as what
had happened between 2000 and 2007 which
led to the recent food price crisis. Many developed
countries, e.g., US, Canada, Europe, Australia and
New Zealand, as well as middle-level countries like
Brazil and Argentina still have significant potential
to raise food production from land under fallow/
conservation. The squeeze is on those poorer
countries which have limited land relative to their
population – like the Philippines.
With 10 million hectares of arable land supporting
90 million Filipinos, the per capita farmland
availability is only 1,100 square meters. The only
way out of the dilemma is: 1) to raise cropping
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
intensity from the current 1.23 to the potential
3.0 through effective water control, early maturing
varieties, zero tillage, relay and multiple cropping,
and 2) to maximize per hectare yields with better
genetics, tolerance to environmental and biotic
stresses and minimization of postharvest losses.
The Philippines also has another under-exploited
potential for food production which landlocked
countries do not enjoy – our fresh water and
marine resources. Freshwater aquaculture and
mariculture are vital sources of productivity growth,
provided the long-term environment and ecological
services of these natural resources are not
But most importantly, the national leadership must
respond to the call of the majority of the population
for a resolute population policy and program to
moderate population growth.
Urbanization and Rising Incomes. Urbanization is
proceeding rapidly in many developing countries
including the Philippines. More efficient supply
chains are needed to move farm produce from the
countryside to the urban centers of population. In
country after country, modern super/hyper markets
are shortening the supply chains, improving farm
gate prices and delivering higher quality produce at
reasonable prices to urban consumers. However,
they are threatening the livelihood of local wet
market and sari-sari store operators.
Moreover, only the bigger, more progressive
farmers are benefiting from the abbreviated
supply chains. This development is significant to
the Philippines, because the most food insecure
people are the poor small farmers themselves.
The corporate integrators must be provided
incentives to make a real effort to help the truly
small farmers participate in these modern supply
systems as contract growers. Better yet, the small
farmers themselves should organize into producer
cooperatives to attain economies of scale.
The rapidly expanding economies particularly of
China and India are creating intense pressure on
the global food markets. As food preferences shift
from cereals and root crops to meat, milk and eggs,
there is a wild scramble for maize, feed wheat, and
soybean meal and fish meal to support domestic
livestock and poultry industries.
The Philippines has felt the pressure on feed
supplies with the rise in prices of feed wheat,
maize, soybean meal and fish meal. Fortunately
the Philippines has not exhausted its options.
Corn farmers were encouraged by high corn farm
gate prices to switch to high yielding, intensively
managed corn hybrids of both the conventional
and transgenic kind. Feed millers are shifting to
cheaper cassava feed. Our feed scientists are
revisiting the option of pretreating energy and
protein-rich copra meal with microorganisms to
improve their feeding value. Thus, we are confident
that our domestic and poultry and swine industries
can stay competitive with imports.
Rising Food Quality and Safety Standards. There
is a growing awareness of the consequences of
unsafe foods and unhealthy eating habits. Pesticide
residue levels are now being closely monitored,
and increasing numbers of more affluent people
are willing to pay a premium for healthy, organically
grown foods. The Philippines must adopt food
safety and quality standards to keep in step with
the rest of the world for the health and wellness
of our people and to stay competitive in the world
Advances in Science and Technology. Advances in
the understanding of ecology and biodiversity are
making possible the increasing use of biological
control measures in place of synthetic chemical
pesticides to control pests and diseases. Integrated
pest management technologies have drastically
reduced the use of chemical pesticides in rice
farms throughout Asia including the Philippines.
Cocktails of beneficial microorganisms are
now being routinely applied in the root zones
of crops to fix nitrogen from the air, to make
insoluble phosphates more available to plants,
and to introduce microorganisms antagonistic to
nematodes and other soil-borne disease microbes.
The Philippines is the first in Asia to install a
credible genetically modified organism (GMO) crops
risk assessment and monitoring system. GMO corn
with stacked traits of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and
herbicide tolerance genes were planted to close
to 400,000 hectares in 2008 from which satisfied
farmers derived the benefits of high yields (lower
losses), lower labor and weeding costs, and less
exposure to harmful pesticides.
livestock adapted to these changing conditions.
The more problematic as far as the Philippine is
concerned is the mitigation of the consequences
of natural hazards like landslides, typhoons
and flooding which are expected to occur more
frequently than in the past.
This is one bright area of Philippines agriculture.
Our national leadership and the scientific
community anticipated the windfalls from the
emerging innovations in ecology, genetics and
biodiversity, microbiology and biotechnology and
have invested over the years in highly trained
manpower and research laboratories in these
fields. In the pipeline are Pinoy GMOs for insect
resistant rice and eggplant; rice fortified with
beta carotene, iron and zinc; virus-resistant and
slow-ripening papaya; and virus-resistant abaca
and bananas. More are expected to come as our
scientists master the crops and specific genes and
traits uniquely important to our agriculture.
The natural resource which will become
increasingly limited globally is the supply of
freshwater for irrigation, industry and domestic
uses. It is predicted that nations will fight over
water resources. Fortunately for the Philippines,
annual precipitation and groundwater supplies
are able to supply our national requirements for
freshwater, although there are regional imbalances
in their availability. The country must therefore
carefully plan now as it has started to do on how
best to conserve, develop and utilize our water
Climate Change, Natural Hazards and Growing
Scarcity of Natural Resources. After the initial
debate on the reality of global warming and climate
change, evidence is piling up that indeed the polar
ice caps are receding and the earth is indeed
entering a warming phase. With the rise of ocean
levels induced by global warming, low lying coastal
areas and small islands will be inundated; salt will
intrude into coastal farm lands; higher intensity
and higher frequency of weather disturbances
are anticipated; and grain yields in the tropics are
expected to decline with higher night temperatures.
However, there will also be winners. Countries in
the higher latitudes (mostly developed countries
in Europe and North America) will enjoy longer
growing seasons and more moderate winter
temperatures. Photosynthetic rates will be higher
with the higher concentration of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere.
The Philippines, while not being a major per capita
contributor of greenhouse gases, will have to cope
with the consequences of global warming and
climate change. These global changes will take
place over a long period of time, and so there
is plenty of time to breed and select crops and
Global and Regional Approaches to Food Security.
The recent food price crisis, the spike in oil prices,
and the ongoing global recession highlight more
than ever the need for a better global governance
architecture for governing food, nutrition and
agriculture (von Braun, 2009). Food, energy and
political security are essentially linked in the global
scale, and there are crucial trade-offs for which
there is a need for stronger global mechanisms
to respond to future challenges, to improve
productivity and scale up investments, to expand
nutrition and social protection, and to strengthen
markets and trade.
Von Braun envisioned a new governance structure
which will coordinate and link together the
programs and activities of global entities like
the World Bank (WB), World Trade Organization
(WTO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme
(WFP), and Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR) with that of national
governments, the private sector and civil society,
including large private foundations.
The key features of this new international order
are the mechanisms and management of global
and regional food reserves. At the minimum, von
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
Braun proposes that a modest international grain
reserve be established to be used exclusively
for emergency responses and humanitarian
assistance. The grains could be supplied by the
main grain-producing countries, provided funding
by the G-8 + 5 countries, and managed by the
World Food Programme.
Von Braun further proposes a second virtual
reserve and intervention mechanism backed up by
a financial fund to calm markets under speculative
National Prescriptions for Food
View from the European Community. Much has
been said about the magnitude, distribution and
causes of food insecurity among continents,
countries, population sectors, households and
individuals as well as approaches, solutions
and programs toward alleviating it. The following
statement by Poul Nielsen (IFPRI, 2001b), on
behalf of the European Community during an
international conference for sustainable food
security for all, comprehensively captures the basic
directions, enabling conditions and complexities
which need to be addressed to attain the universal
goal of food security.
As far as the Philippines is concerned, all the
observations and prescriptions apply, except
for a glaring omission – the explicit reference to
management of population growth.
Poul Nielson, European Union Commissioner for
Development and Humanitarian Aid, in IFPRI,
2001b (p.101), said:
The best way to achieve food security
for all is to implement a broad-based
policy for sustainable growth and poverty
Economic growth is a necessary condition
for food security because it contributes
to increased food production and a
strengthened external trade position,
which allows countries to import food
if necessary. However, growth is not a
sufficient condition for food security.
Above all it is essential to strengthen
people’s access by tackling poverty.
To bring about food security, we must
therefore deliver growth with poverty
reduction and equity. We must ensure
that the poor are included in growth.
That requires actions to develop markets,
institutions, and infrastructures that are
accessible to the poor, and to provide
sustainable services focused on public
In addition, we must give greater
prominence to tackling the inequalities
that are the bases of poverty and
hunger. We cannot expect growth to
deliver poverty reduction when there
are large inequalities in human capital,
employment, access to land, and other
productive assets. We need to confront
these inequalities by addressing issues of
land tenure and land reform, generating
employment, providing universal access
to health and education services, making
rural credit more available to those
lacking collateral, and tackling policy
biases that disadvantage the rural poor.
This includes addressing the lack of
political participation and empowerment
of the poor.
Attaining Food Security through the MDGs. The
food security of the Filipino children in the 21st
century is intimately linked with the attainment of
the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Attainment of the 2015 targets is likely for many of
the goals but would require extra efforts in some.
Moreover, some of the targets are so modest that
much more remains to be done.
The Philippine government through the National
Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has
identified the following key crosscutting issues in
attaining the MDGs, namely:
Addressing the wide disparities among
Curbing the high population growth rate
Improving the performance of the
agriculture sector
Accelerating the implementation of basic
education and health reforms
Ensuring the strict enforcement of laws
pertinent to the achievement of the MDGs
Bridging the financing gap
Strengthening the capacity of local
government units (LGUs)
Ensuring transparency and accountability
in government transactions
Addressing peace and security issues
10. Need for public-private partnership
11. Improving targeting, database and
These crosscutting concerns are reproduced
without further comment because the explanations
and the priority actions needed are obvious. Essays
on the Philippine economy, development, policies
and challenges could be found in Balisacan
and Hill, eds. (2003). The problem is not one of
understanding and expertise but of political will
and sustained implementation.
Common Country Assessment by UN Team in
Manila. The following excerpt from the situational
analysis undertaken by the UN resident team in
Manila is a fair and comprehensive characterization
of the core problems and challenges besetting our
country. Their observations are embodied in the
Common Country Assessment document which
sets the framework of the UN’s engagement with
the Philippines.
Core Problem # 1: Growth has been uneven and
insufficient to reduce poverty deprivation and
inequality. The economic growth the Philippines
experienced in 2003-2007 was not accompanied
by a commensurate increase in decent
employment. The increase in the share of the
service sector employment points to the growth
of the informal sector rather than the modern
transformation of the economy.
The share of the agricultural sector in growth
upon which the poor depend upon largely for
employment/livelihood and incomes, and which
is also crucial for national food security, has been
The inadequate growth of the agricultural sector,
on the other hand, is caused by: 1) low priority
accorded to it by the national government; 2)
perpetuation of a national food sufficiency policy
that encourages resource allocation distortions
within agriculture and across sectors2; 3)
inadequate research and development activities;
4) inequity in access to productive assets such
as land ; 5) low resilience to natural hazards and
climate change; 6) environmental degradation;
7) unequal access to productive assets and
government services; and 8) governance and
institutional weaknesses.
Core Problem # 2: Growth has not only been
insufficient and uneven, it has also been
exclusionary, particularly with reference to women
and indigenous people.
Core Problem # 3. High population growth
remains to be a major factor severely slowing
down economic growth and poverty reduction; but
more intractable are the culture/religion-based
and political ideological barriers preventing the
articulation of a comprehensive and coherent
population management program.
Rapid population growth, particularly that which
creates a demographic burden and one that grows
disproportionately faster in relation to economic
growth, is a strain on fiscal resources. It reduces
per capita social spending and crowds out money
and savings that could otherwise be used for
Core Problem # 4. The country’s vulnerability to
natural hazards including climate change and
the new challenges this brings to the current
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
decision environments at the various national and
substantial levels threaten the modest gains of
growth and deepen vulnerabilities and/or create
new ones.
Table 16. Magnitude of the food security
Core Problem # 5. Armed conflicts increase
exclusion of socially underprivileged groups, hinder
their claim for human security rights, and limit the
potential development and growth of their locale.
Estimated Numbers
Population Below
Subsistence Threshold
Underweight Children,
0-5 Years
Decades of protracted war between the
government and the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF),
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro
Islamic Liberation Front have resulted in slower
economic growth for many parts of the country.
We simply must put our act together to get our
economy moving on a broad front, modernizing
the different sectors to make them competitive,
creating decent employment for all in an increasing
global economic environment, while husbanding
our scarce natural resources.
Food Security for Filipino Children
Targeted Social Protection and Safety Nets. But
would improving the macroeconomic conditions
and broad economic indicators guarantee food
security for all, particularly for our children?
Food security cannot be discussed in a vacuum.
Food security can only be fully comprehended
in the context of the social, economic, political,
cultural and demographic fabric of the nation.
Hunger is tightly linked with poverty in a vicious
embrace. The malnourished become poor, and
the poor become malnourished. The underlying
causes of poverty need to be understood and
addressed if one were to make sustained progress
in eradicating hunger and food insecurity.
The answer in NO. Improving policies and
stimulating economic growth will not be sufficient
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
(IFPRI, 2008). In the first place, economic growth
must be pro-poor, must create decent jobs and
livelihoods, and must be sustainable. In the
meantime for many households left behind,
targeted social protection programs and safety nets
are necessary to offer them routes out of poverty
and meet their immediate food needs.
Charitably the Philippines is making progress
on the measures we chose to define the UN
MDGs. However, the sobering fact remains that
unacceptable numbers of Filipinos in the millions
still go to bed hungry every night.
Social protection programs directed at the poorest
and most food insecure sectors of the population
include conditional and non-conditional cash
transfer programs, emergency assistance in the
form of cash and/or food, school feeding programs,
maternal and child health and nutrition program,
public works targeted at vulnerable groups, and
community-driven public works programs. Many of
these programs are in place in Bangladesh, Brazil,
China, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mexico, and many others
including the Philippines.
The current (2006) population below the
subsistence threshold is 12.23 million (Table
16). Even if we succeed with the MDG target
by 2015, there will still be 12.5 million hungry,
malnourished Filipinos. At present there are 3.41
million underweight children between 0-5 years. By
2015 there will still be 2.65 million malnourished
MDG Target
by 2015(%)
The needed reforms in the economic, social,
cultural, political, demographic and environmental
spheres of our national life will take time to take
root and yield dividends. In the meantime our
young cannot wait. The immediate challenge is
putting in place remedial measures and programs
to enhance food security with the limited resources
and impediments at hand.
beans for protein and minerals; vegetables
and fruits in season for vitamins and minerals
and fiber.
Iron and vitamin A supplementation. We are
losing the battle against anemia and vitamin
A deficiency. We should infuse more resources
in the iron and vitamin A supplementation
programs for children. Again the costs could
be moderated by targeting the most vulnerable
households and communities.
Nutrition education and extension. We have
many success stories in community-level
organizing, nutrition education, and extension.
Among others, the Food Always in the Home
(FAITH) gardening program of Dr. Florentino
Solon must be given fresh impetus. The
Barangay Integrated Development Approach
for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI) program
initiated by Dr. Josefa Eusebio at UP Los Baños
mobilizing SUCs for nutrition promotion in the
barangays will not require much funding to get
going again.
Two poor countries come to mind - Cuba and Sri
Lanka – whose human development indices are
comparable to those with higher levels of economic
development. In other words it can be done.
Nutrition-Driven Interventions. The current numbers
of malnourished children between 0-5 years is
3.41 million. If they are not saved now, apart from
the immorality and inhumanity of allowing so many
children to suffer, they will constitute a continuing
drag on our economy. Better we invest on them
Among the initiatives specifically directed at
nutrition are:
Massive campaign for breastfeeding. Children
are most nutritionally vulnerable during the
first two years. The most direct intervention is
breastfeeding by mothers. We need massive
tri-media support to persuade mothers that it
is intelligent, moral and fashionable to keep
nursing their babies as long as possible.
School milk-feeding. The numbers of most
severely affected children who can be fed with
milk in schools can be manageable if they are
carefully targeted. Milk is still the best natural
food for children. However, milk in the school
feeding program need not be fresh cow or
carabao milk. Skim milk powder reconstituted
with inexpensive coconut oil is cheaper
and more healthy. The milk in the school
feeding program can be fortified with iron and
essential vitamins at minimal additional cost.
Home-made weaning baby foods. Beyond
breastfeeding and supplemental milk and
milk products, children obtain increasing
sustenance from complementary foods as they
get older. The challenge is educating, training
and exhorting mothers to concoct nutritious,
good tasting and sanitary baby foods with
whatever is available in the home – rice and
vegetable oil for calories; eggs, fish, meat and
We do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are
countless NGOs, LGUs, schools and corporate
social responsibility (CSR) projects working their
heart out to address malnutrition among the poor.
Let’s establish a competitive grant fund where the
more serious grassroots organizations can obtain
matching grants to popularize home, school and
community vegetable gardens.
Institutional support. Finally we have existing
human nutrition institutions which have been
giving inspiration, direction and expertise
to nutrition efforts all these years. Among
them are the National Nutrition Council,
the Food and Nutrition Research Institute
(FNRI) of the Department of Science and
Technology (DOST), the many colleges of home
economics and nutrition, and the professional
organizations of nutritionists and dieticians.
We must inject a new sense of urgency in
them by clear messages from Congress
and the Executive Branch, recognizing their
contributions and assuring them of all-out
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
Summary and Conclusions
Poverty and food insecurity are tightly linked social
conditions. The food-deprived are invariably those
mired in absolute poverty.
The latest statistics (FAO, 2008) show that about
923 million people in the world still live below the
poverty line and do not have sufficient food to eat.
This, in spite of the world community resolve in
the 1996 World Food Summit and later enshrined
as the UN Millennium Development Goal No. 1 to
eradicate poverty and hunger.
The Philippines is on its way to fulfilling its
commitment to the UN MDG of halving the
proportion of its population below the subsistence
and poverty thresholds by 2015 from the baseline
statistics of 1990. The proportion of Filipinos below
the subsistence threshold declined from 24.3
percent in 1990 to 13.5 percent in 2006. Likewise
the proportion of Filipinos below the poverty
threshold decreased from 45.3 percent in 1990 to
30.0 percent in 2006.
Although poverty and food insecurity incidences are
declining, they remain painfully and embarrassingly
high. The proportion of households with per capita
energy intake below 100 percent of the dietary
energy requirement was a staggering 56.9 percent
in 2006. The prevalence of malnutrition among
children 0-5 years old was 24.6 percent in 2006.
In absolute numbers, 12.23 million Filipinos were
below the subsistence threshold in 2006. By
2015 even if the Philippines were to attain its UN
MDG target, there will still be 12.5 million hungry
There were 3.41 million underweight Filipino
children between 0-5 years in 2006. By 2015
there will still be 2.675 million underweight Filipino
The national nutrition surveys describe more fully
the nature of food insecurity among Filipinos.
On the average Filipino children do not consume
sufficient energy, iron, calcium and Vitamin A. Their
protein intake is marginally adequate. This lack
of proper nutrition is reflected in the weight and
height for age measurements. At age five years,
27.3 percent of Filipino children are underweight
for age, and 38.2 percent are underheight for age.
In terms of specific targeted nutrients, there were
no improvements in the iron and vitamin A intakes
of Filipino children during the last six years. The
only bright picture is on iodine nutrition which has
improved dramatically with the implementation of
the table salt iodine fortification law.
Food security has three dimensions, namely,
first, the physical availability of food in the
country; second, the access to food not only by
all households but also by all members of the
households; and third, the proper biological
utilization of the food taken in.
As far as physical availability is concerned, the
Philippines is able to produce sufficient sugar,
cooking oil, fish, poultry, eggs, pork, vegetables
and fruits for its own requirements. However, the
country depends on the world market for its rice,
wheat, milk and ruminant meat needs.
Between the two staples, rice and white corn, the
Philippines is a perennial, huge importer of rice but
is self-sufficient in white corn.
The national policy is self-sufficiency for these two
staples, and country’s agricultural development
program is heavily oriented towards achieving rice
The access to food by all households is a function
of assets, incomes and employment, and
affordability. Since poverty and lack of assets and
income are more severe among the rural folks,
modernization of agriculture will have to be a major
part of the solution, i.e., implementation of the
Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA)
of 1997, to raise productivity, create livelihoods
and further raise value added in agricultural
produce (Dy et al., 2008).
Food prices in the country are very high compared
with our ASEAN neighbors. These high food prices
are brought about by low farm productivity; high
energy, credit and input costs; and inefficiencies
in postharvest, transport and market facilities.
Likewise, these ills will have to be addressed by
The third dimension of proper biological utilization
of food can be addressed by proper education,
particularly of mothers in preparing balanced,
nutritious and sanitary food in the homes.
Moreover, households must have access to clean
potable water and clean toilets to keep them safe
from diarrhea and other debilitating diseases which
render the ingested food ineffective.
The food security prospects for Filipinos in
general and for Filipino children in particular,
in the immediate to medium term, are not very
encouraging. As pointed out in the resident UN
team country report, recent economic growth
(2003-2007) has been uneven and insufficient
to reduce poverty and inequality. The economic
growth the Philippines experienced in recent years
has not been accompanied by a commensurate
increase in decent employment. The share of the
agricultural sector, upon which the poor depend
largely for livelihood and incomes and which is
crucial for food security, has been declining.
Moreover, while population growth has declined
from 2.36 percent to 2.0 percent, population
pressure remains high, putting a strain on fiscal
resources, reducing per capita social spending, and
crowding out savings that otherwise could be used
for productive investments.
Further, food insecurity precisely in the
economically backward regions is exacerbated by
the long-festering communist insurgency and the
age-old armed conflict with Muslim separatists in
southern Philippines. Unfortunately, resolution of
both conflicts is not likely in the foreseeable future.
Superimposed on these local political and social
concerns are several global trends which ultimately
impact on food supplies and trade. These trends
are: globalization; urbanization and rising incomes
particularly in China, India and other rapidly
industrializing countries; rising food quality and
safety standards; climate change, natural hazards
and growing scarcity of natural resources; and the
advent of advances in science and technology, in
particular, genetically modified or transgenic crops,
fish and livestock.
As a net food importer, hugely dependent on
imports of rice, milk, wheat and ruminant meat,
the Philippines is very vulnerable to rapid shifts
in global supplies, prices and trade of these
food commodities. Stability and predictability of
global food supply and prices will have to wait
for a better coordinated and coherent system of
global governance in food, agriculture, energy and
finance. The Philippines in the pursuit of its own
national interest should espouse the establishment
of a food reserve at least in the ASEAN region.
On the positive side of the ledger for the
Philippines, as far as food security is concerned,
are suitable temperature and sunlight conditions
throughout the year; ample precipitation and
underground freshwater supply; a fairly welldeveloped infrastructure for scientific agriculture;
and hard-working, fairly educated/educable
farmers and fisherfolk.
Except for wheat, milk and ruminant meat, the
country can be self-sufficient in the rest of its food
needs including rice, provided the country follows
through with the long deferred/neglected public
investments in the rural sector. If the investments
in rural infrastructures and institutions mandated
under the AFMA of 1997 are put in place, the
recurring shortage of rice can be laid to rest and
poverty which is largely a rural phenomenon can be
significantly alleviated.
Only a third of the country’s land area is arable
(10 million out of 30 million hectares). The
current cropping intensity is 1.23. With better
managed irrigation systems, with earlier maturing
varieties, with conservation tillage, intercropping
and other agronomic techniques, and with the
potential to grow crops, all year round, a cropping
intensity of 3.0 is attainable, effectively tripling our
domestic capacity to produce food. Production and
postharvest losses, which can rise to as much as
30 percent of the potential productivity, could be
saved with better integrated pest management and
installation of proper postharvest, transport and
storage facilities.
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
The country is not wanting in expert economists,
agricultural scientists, social scientists,
demographers and nutritionists who can analyze
and prescribe what needs to be done to address
poverty and food insecurity. The NEDA MDG midterm report (2007) identified 11 key crosscutting
issues in attaining the UN MDGs, namely:
Addressing the wide disparities among
Curbing the high population growth rate
Improving the performance of the
agriculture sector
Accelerating the implementation of basic
education and health reforms
Ensuring the strict enforcement of laws
pertinent to the achievement of the MDGs
Bridging the financing gap
Strengthening the capacity of LGUs
Ensuring transparency and accountability
in government transactions
Addressing peace and security issues
Nevertheless, improving the macroeconomic
environment and the broad economic indicators,
while vital, is not sufficient to guarantee food
security for all, particularly the children.
The needed reforms in the economic, social,
cultural, political, demographic and environmental
spheres of our national life will take time to take
root and yield dividends. In the meantime those
in abject poverty and the young cannot wait. The
immediate challenge is putting in place remedial
measures and programs to enhance food security
with the limited resources and impediments at
hand. We need to provide social protection and
safety nets for households left behind to offer them
routes out of poverty and help them meet their
immediate food needs.
Examples of social protection programs include
cash transfers, food for work, nutrition and
maternal health extension, and specific nutritiondirected interventions such as promotion of
breastfeeding, training of mothers to prepare
home-made nutritious weaning baby foods, school
milk-feeding, and promotion of home, school and
community vegetable gardens.
All these programs are in place. It is a matter
of putting the needed resources into them
and sustaining their implementation from one
administration to the next.
10. Need for public-private partnership
11. Improving targeting, database and
The problem is not one of understanding and
expertise but of political will and sustained
implementation. We must simply put our act
together to get our economy moving on a broad
front, modernizing the different sectors to make
them competitive, creating decent employment for
all in an increasingly global economic environment,
while husbanding our scarce natural resources.
Finally, the malnourished Filipino children in
2015 are yet to be born. We know that majority
of them will come from depressed conflict-ridden
regions, disadvantaged communities, and very
poor households. We have to address their needs
now to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty
and malnutrition. Even with current resources,
the dismal statistics of poverty and malnutrition
could be significantly reduced by carefully targeted
social protection programs and nutrition-driven
interventions. And equally important, a sustained
responsible parenthood, family planning program.
People in developing countries need between
1720 to 1960 K cal per day for basal
metabolism and light activity (FAO 2002).
See box for Self-Sufficiency in Rice and White
Balisacan, A., & Hill, H. (Eds.) (2003). The
Philippine Economy: Development, Policies and
Challenges. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press.
Child 21: Philippine National Strategic Framework
for Plan Development for Children. (2002-2005).
Dy, R., et al. (2008). Modernizing Philippine
Agriculture and Fisheries: The AFMA
Implementation Experience.
FAO. (2002). World Agriculture: Towards
2015/2030. Summary Report.
FAO. (2008). Hunger on the Rise: Soaring prices
add 75 million people to global hunger rolls.
Briefing paper. Memo.
FNRI. (2006). Sixth National Nutrition Surveys.
Department of Science and Technology.
IFPRI. (2001a). The Unfinished Agenda:
Perspectives on Overcoming Hunger, Poverty and
Environmental Degradation.
IFPRI. (2008). Annual Report 2007-2008. Chapter
on Poverty, Nutrition and Social Protection.
NEDA. (2007). Philippines Midterm Progress Report
on the Millennium Development Goals.
NSCB. (2009).
Pinstrup-Andersen, P., Pandya-Lorch, R., &
Rosegrant, M.W. (2001). Global Food Security – A
Review of the Challenges. In IFPRI, 2001a.
Rosegrant, W.M. (2008). Biofuels and Grain Prices:
Imports and Policy Responses. In von Braun, 2009.
UNCT. (2007). Country Common Assessment.
von Braun, J. (2009). Addressing the Food Crisis:
Governance, Market Functioning, and Investment in
Public Goods. Food Sec, 1: 9-15.
IFPRI. (2001b). Sustainable Food Security for All by
2020. Proceedings of an International Conference.
Bonn, Germany.
Food Security of Filipino Children
in Medium Term
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
By Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan
The 1990s was a time of global commitment
to children’s welfare. World leaders came
together at the United Nations to take part in the
World Summit for Children. Numerous national
governments committed to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC), a universally agreed upon
set of non-negotiable standards and obligations for
the world’s children (UNICEF website). By ratifying
the CRC, the Philippines joined the international
community in legally binding itself to protect the
rights of children.
Drafted in 2000, the Philippine National Strategic
Framework for Plan Development for Children (or
simply, Child 21) envisions movement towards a
child-friendly society. It is a long-term framework for
the Filipino children of the 21st century, weaving
the rights of children into the different stages of the
child’s development.
Areas of concern in health care throughout the
child’s life cycle are still numerous. Today,
• 162 women die during pregnancy and
childbirth, or shortly thereafter, for every
100,000 livebirths.
24 infants die before their first birthday
for every 1,000 livebirths.
Vaccine-preventable diseases remain
as leading cause of mortality in children
under 5 years of age.
Increasing sexual risk behavior is being
observed among adolescents who are
not amply informed regarding sexuallytransmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.
Although these figures provide us with a peek
into the future of child health, we can paint
a comprehensive picture more effectively by
establishing trends with the aid of past figures as
Leaping Over Hurdles in the
Filipino Child’s Health
Making projections for 2015 and 2025 entailed
using data from the various surveys conducted in
the past 10 to 15 years; to name a few, the 1993
National Demographic Survey (NDS), the 1998 and
the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey
(NDHS), and the 2006 Family Planning Survey
(FPS). Computations for targets were made based
on identified goals of the UN program “A World Fit
for Children” and the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs). These calculations revealed a wide
variety of possible scenarios – ranging from the
encouraging to those crying out for interventions
to be made today to neutralize or, hopefully, create
positive impact by 2015 and 2025.
There is evident progress in major health
indicators, namely, maternal, infant and underfive mortality ratios. The decline, however, is no
cause for assurance. The question of whether the
improvements are enough to reach the MDGs still
remains to be answered. It is also noteworthy that
mortality ratios vary across geographic locations,
levels of income, and educational attainment. In
general, mortality rates are lower among families
from the urban areas and from those with higher
levels of income and education.
Although the country’s Maternal Mortality Ratio
(MMR) shows a steadily declining trend (Figure
1), the observed progress from 1993-1998
(annual estimated decline of 7.4 maternal deaths
per 100,000 livebirths) to 1999-2006 (annual
estimated decline of 1.25 per 100,000) is also
decreasing. If the current progress is sustained,
the MMR by 2015 will be 151 deaths per 100,000.
This is a far cry from the 2015 target of reducing it
by three-fourths (52 per 100,000), which requires
a decline of 12.2 deaths per 100,000 per year to
reach it. These estimates, however, are associated
with large sampling errors due to the relative rarity
of maternal deaths (Stanton et al., 1997 as cited by
NSO, 1999).
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
Figure 1. Maternal deaths per 100,000
livebirths, 1993-2015
Inadequate antenatal care and the high incidence
of high-risk births are factors that still contribute
to the risk of dying during pregnancy and
childbirth. Post-partum hemorrhage, sepsis/severe
infections, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and
obstructed labor remain as the major causes of
maternal deaths, but these complications may be
prevented by having skilled attendance at delivery.
Antenatal care (providing patient education,
immunization, iron prophylaxis and preparation for
transport and safe delivery) may also contribute
to the improvement of outcomes through early
detection of risks.
Figure 2 shows the percentage of women aged
15-49 years receiving antenatal care for their
most recent birth. It reveals that the proportion
of women being attended at least once by a
skilled health provider is increasing modestly. By
sustaining this modest gain from 2003 to 2015, 93
percent of women will be seen at least once during
pregnancy. However, it is important to note that the
minimum number of antenatal visits as surveyed
is in itself inadequate and that complete care is
received by only a few.
Figure 2. Percentage of women aged 15-49 with
livebirths having at least one antenatal visit,
We should also recognize that the national data
available may not be entirely true at the regional
and local levels. Investments in improving
antenatal care should be made, especially for
disadvantaged groups such as those living in
far-flung areas and in poorer communities where
availability and accessibility of skilled health
workers and affordability of care remain as major
issues to be addressed.
As previously mentioned, the major causes of
maternal deaths may be addressed through
skilled attendance. However, delivery care in the
Philippines still widely varies. As management
for complications during childbirth may be given
more properly when assisted by doctors, nurses
and other trained health professionals, delivery
assistance by them is the ideal. It is also more
preferable for deliveries to be done in health
facilities rather than at home.
The Department of Health (DOH) developed
the policy to shift from the strategy of highrisk pregnancy identification to the Emergency
Obstetric Care (EmOC) approach to reduce
maternal mortality. The EmOC approach is based
on the Three Delays Model, which outlines the
three delays in obtaining emergency obstetric
care, namely, Delay in Recognizing Danger Signs
and Deciding to Seek Care, Delay in Reaching
Appropriate Care, and Delay in Receiving Care at
Health Facilities (Thaddeus and Maine, 1994).
Under EmOC, all pregnant women are considered
to be at risk as more than 80 percent of maternal
deaths are due to complications for which no
antenatal screening is possible.
Nationally, there is a continuing increase in the
number of deliveries assisted by trained health
professionals and the number of deliveries in
health facilities (Figures 3 and 4). Also noted
was a corresponding decrease in the number of
deliveries assisted by traditional birth attendants,
more commonly known in the Philippines as hilot
and those done at home. However, despite the
consistent decline, the portions assisted by hilot
and those done at home in 2003 remain large
(37.1% and 61.4%, respectively).
Figure 3. Delivery assistance of livebirths,
Table 1. Percentage of births assisted by a
doctor and delivered in a health facility by
socioeconomic status, location and educational
attainment, 2003
Demographic Groups
Wealth Index
Figure 4. Place of delivery of livebirths,
A cause for even greater concern is that these
improvements are not totally reflective of
demographic data. As with mortality rates,
geographic location, socioeconomic status and
educational attainment of families are factors that
affect decisions related to giving birth. Across the
different surveys, it has been noted that deliveries
assisted by the hilot and/or those done at home
are more likely in poorer families, those living
in rural areas and those whose mothers did not
receive education or reached the grade school
level. Summarized in Table 1 are the results of the
2003 NDHS revealing this disparity.
The disparity is showing that although there is
a nationwide policy to encourage deliveries in
health care facilities, large groups of people are
not fully benefitted by this. We should continue to
focus efforts to address the matter at hand – that
majority of births are still being delivered at home.
There is a great need to correct the prevailing
mindset among health policymakers and providers
that relies on the risk assessment approach and
the hilot in maternal care. The implementation of
No education
College or higher
by a Doctor
Delivered in a
Health Facility
the Protocol for Home Deliveries, issued in 1994,
may need to be monitored and reassessed. The
depletion of skilled health personnel also remains
to be a major problem and, with the inadequate
funding, contributes to a poor maternal health care
system that continues to rely on the hilot.
We need to improve the distribution of skilled
attendants and, additionally, more effectively
involve traditional attendants in skill-attendant
strategies. Traditional attendants should more
strongly advocate skilled care, be linked with
transport and communication facilities for efficient
emergency referrals, and be trained in recognizing
problems and stabilizing patients. These
competencies in birth assistance may be taught
through seminars and workshops, targeting the
poorest and farthest communities.
A large proportion of infant deaths result from
poor maternal health care during pregnancy and
delivery. Studies also show that the unmet need
for birth spacing puts both mothers and infants
at risk for various adverse outcomes. It may also
be important to note that perinatal and neonatal
deaths constitute more than 50 percent of all
infant mortality. The most common causes of infant
deaths are conditions emanating from the perinatal
period (61.8%) and pneumonia (10%).
The implementation of programs and policies for
maternal health, such as the EmOC approach, may
also reduce infant mortality, as maternal and child
health programs bring complementary benefits
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
to both the mother and infant. In the Philippines,
a reduction in the Infant Mortality Ratio (IMR)
and Under-Five Mortality Ratio (UMR) has been
observed since 1990. The likelihood of reducing
both IMR and UMR by two-thirds in 2015 is high.
As shown in Figures 5 and 6, the goal may even be
surpassed by sustaining the current progress, even
without further intervention.
Figure 5. Infant deaths per 1,000 livebirths,
Table 2. Infant and under-five
mortality by socioeconomic status,
location and educational attainment, 2003
Demographic Groups
Wealth Index
No education
College or higher
On top of national efforts to reduce IMR and UMR,
attempts to teach the value of birth spacing and
child care should be geared towards the less
privileged groups and low-performing regions to
accelerate improvements.
Figure 6. Deaths in children under five years per
1,000 livebirths, 1990-2015
But as with maternal mortality, there exists an
inverse relationship of infant and childhood
mortality with the mother’s socioeconomic status
and educational attainment. Table 2 summarizes
the results of the 2003 NDHS showing the glaring
disparity of infant and child mortality across the
groups. The proportion of deaths have also been
observed to be lower in urban than in rural areas.
Based on regional data, the low performers in
2003 were Region IVB (Mimaropa) with 44 infant
deaths per 1,000 livebirths and the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 72
deaths in children under five years of age per
1,000 livebirths.
Preventable Diseases
Preventable diseases such as acute respiratory
infections (ARIs) and diarrhea are still common
causes of childhood illness and death. In the
1998 and 2003 NDHS, mothers of children under
five years of age were asked for the occurrence
of symptoms of ARI and fever in the two weeks
preceding the survey. The percentage of children
under five years of age presenting with cough
accompanied by short, rapid breathing decreased
by 0.56 percent per year (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Percentage of children under age 5
presenting with ARI symptoms and/or fever and
percentage of which seeking consult, 19982015
To achieve the goal of decreasing ARI occurrence
by a third in 2015, an annual decline of at least
0.13 percent from 2003 should be observed.
The likelihood the target will be achieved is high,
considering that the observed decrease from
1998 to 2003 surpasses the required minimum
decrease from 2003 onwards. Also shown in Figure
7 are the projected values for 2025, provided this
minimum decline will be sustained from 2015.
Despite these promising figures on the occurrence
of respiratory infections, a decline in consults from
a health facility or provider was also observed.
In 1990-1991, training for more than 80 percent
of health care providers was spearheaded by the
National Control of ARI Program. However, the
training program met problems of sustainability
along the way. Different stakeholders may need to
come together to revise or reinforce its program
design. If left unchecked, the projected percentage
of consults will decrease to 18.22 percent in 2015
and to more than 100 percent by 2025. But if an
annual increase of 2.59 percent will be observed
from 2003 onwards, the percentage of those
seeking consult for ARIs may still rise to achieve
the target.
In addition to reinforcing the training program for
health care providers, we may also need to further
educate and encourage mothers in being keen in
identifying danger signs and in seeking consult for
ARI. Information, Education, and Communication
(IEC) materials may be developed and mass
produced for distribution to local government
units to supplement and support the work of our
community health care providers.
Seven percent and 11 percent of children under
age five had diarrhea in the two weeks preceding
the 1998 and 2003 survey, respectively (Figure
8). This translates to a 0.8 percent increase in
the number of affected children per year. Without
intervention, the proportion of children with
diarrhea will go up to 20.60 percent by 2015.
In the 2003 survey, the occurrence of diarrhea was
correlated with the mother’s educational status;
it was noted to be highest among children with
mothers who did not receive education (13.4%)
Figure 8. Percentage of children under age 5
presenting with diarrhea and percentage of
which receiving oral rehydration therapy, 19982015
and lowest among the group whose mothers
reached at least the college level (8.4%). Only 32.4
percent of those who were reported to have had
diarrhea were taken to a health facility.
Halving deaths due to diarrhea is a formidable
task considering that the proportion of affected
children receiving oral rehydration therapy (ORT)
is declining. Despite the fact that 91.8 percent of
all mothers surveyed had the knowledge of ORS
packets, only 58.9 percent received ORT, while
22.4 percent did not receive any treatment.
In the earlier survey, around 80 percent of those
affected received ORT, representing a decline of
4.22 percent per year. In the 2002 study named
“Evaluation of the National Control of Diarrheal
Disease Program in the Philippines, 19801993,” results showed that ORS packets were
sufficiently produced but were underutilized due
to distribution problems. We may need to pinpoint
the bottleneck in distribution of this resource to
the communities and venture into improving this
process, rather than investing in production of
greater supply without addressing the root cause of
Additionally, we may also focus our attention on
teaching families and community health workers
on the ill-effects of dehydration in diarrhea and
the value of using ORS packets in preventing it.
Regional data shows that in the National Capital
Region (NCR), 96.7 percent of mothers had
knowledge of ORS packets. However, the same
applies to only 79.9 percent in Caraga Region, a
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
figure well below the country average. Efforts to
further educate may be targeted in areas such as
this, to maximize results.
We may also make further improvements in
promoting the use of other forms of ORT, namely,
recommended homemade fluid and increased
fluids. Knowledge of these alternatives may be
especially useful where accessibility to care and,
in particular, these rehydration packets remain a
lingering issue in the community.
Table 3 summarizes data from the 2003 NDHS,
clearly showing that a larger proportion of children
from rural areas, those belonging to poor families
and whose mothers received no education are
affected by preventable diseases. This imbalance
becomes more evident with regional data. In
Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), for example,
only 4.2 of children presented with signs and
symptoms of diarrhea. At the other end of the
spectrum is the Cordilleras, with 20.4 percent of
children affected.
The underprivileged groups, though they are more
prone of becoming ill with preventable diseases,
are less likely to seek treatment, as shown in
Table 3. This puts them at a greater disadvantage
than where they already are to begin with. Though
there is a need to make attempts in improving our
performance at the national level, there is an even
greater need to focus efforts on low-performing
regions and disadvantaged groups. We should
target the far-flung, poorer areas in the training
of health care providers and mothers on the
recognition, treatment and prevention of these
diseases, as they would most benefit from having
the ability to manage these at the community level.
Since health care may not be readily accessible to
them, empowering the community may prove to be
of great value in accelerating our improvement.
In 1992, the country reaffirmed its previous
commitment to universal child immunization.
Today, nationwide immunization programs are
being implemented to provide children with
vaccines against the six preventable childhood
diseases (namely, tuberculosis, diphtheria,
pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles) before their
first birthday. However, the proportion of children
receiving the recommended vaccines before 12
months of age took an annual dip of one percent
from 1998 to 2003 (Figure 9). If this observed
decline continues to 2015, only 48 percent of
children will have been fully immunized before their
first birthday.
Figure 9. Percentage of infants receiving full
immunization before their first birthday, 19932015
Table 3. Prevalence of preventable diseases by socioeconomic status, location and educational
attainment, 2003
Demographic Groups
Sought consult for cough
and/or fever
Presented with
Received ORT
No education
College or higher
Presented with ARI
To ensure a 90 percent national coverage by 2015,
the annual required change from 2003 onwards
is 2.5 percent. Comparing this with the annual
observed increase of 0.6 percent in 1993 to 1998,
tremendous efforts will need to be exerted to
reach the target, and different stakeholders may
need to re-intensify their support for the currently
implemented program.
On top of this observed decline in national
performance is the matter of alarming discrepancy
across the socioeconomic groups, location and
educational attainment. Table 4 summarizes
2003 NDHS data showing the huge difference
between these various groups. The percentage of
children from uneducated families who have not
received any vaccines is almost 20 times more
than those belonging to families that have reached
college level. This is a strong cue for us to realign
our efforts to educate and communicate with the
need to reach families that have not received
education. In this case, messages on immunization
coursed through radio and television may prove
to be of more value than print messages in the
form of newspaper and magazine ads, posters and
Available regional data also highlights this
discrepancy, as the percentage of those not
receiving vaccines went as low as 2.0 percent
in Mimaropa and as high as 22.6 percent in the
Zamboanga Peninsula and 26.3 percent in Caraga.
Nationally, Wednesdays have been designated
as our immunization day. However, the difference
in frequency of immunization in different areas
may be pointing to why such discrepancy in
performance even exists. In community health
stations, immunizations are done monthly, whereas
it is only done quarterly in far-flung areas. We may
need to make more investments in reaching the
groups living in remote areas to balance out this
Table 4. Percentage of children aged
12-23 months who have not received
any vaccine, by socioeconomic status, location
and educational attainment, 2003
Demographic Groups
Wealth Index
No education
College or higher
No vaccination
Malnutrition continues to be a problem in the
Philippines. Data from the 2003 National Nutrition
Survey (NNS) revealed that of all Filipino children,
only 71 percent are of normal weight, with 27
percent underweight, 30 percent stunted, 5.5
percent wasted and 1.4 percent overweight among
the 0-5 age group. Using the base population of 90
million, the combined proportion of malnourished
children from this age group is still a whopping 6.9
The proportion of underweight children below
five years of age has been waxing and waning
in the last two decades (Figure 10). However, a
decreasing trend was noted from 1998 to 2005.
The rate of decline in these years, if sustained
until 2015, will be more than enough to meet the
minimum required change of 0.74 percent yearly
to reduce child malnutrition by half. However,
regional data from a study done by the Food
and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of
Science & Technology shows that in 2001, the only
region performing above the country average for
malnutrition was NCR, with only 20.3 percent of
children from 0-5 years of age being underweight.
The low performers identified in this study were
Region V (Bicol) with 37.8 percent, Region VI
(Western Visayas) with 35.2 percent and Region X
(Northern Mindanao) with 34.1 percent.
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
Figure 10. Percentage of underweight children
under 5 years of age, 1990-2015
There are several nationwide programs already in
place to improve nutritional status, including the
Philippine Food Fortification Law, the Act for Salt
Iodization Nationwide of 1995 and the Sangkap
Pinoy Seal Program of 2003. These aim to make
available and tag fortified staple food and to
promote the use of iodized salt in food preparation
both in food establishments and at home. Although
these programs address issues relating to
malnutrition, additional projects may be developed
and targeted in low-performing areas. Nutrition and
diet counseling for parents may also help improve
the nutritional status of children.
Although food consumption of 69.4 percent of
the population was below the recommended level
of dietary energy requirement in 1993 (Figure
11), the probability of reaching the MDG is high
considering the annual decline of 1.25 percent
from 1993 to 2003. The 2003 NNS revealed that
21 percent of children experienced food insecurity
in the past six months preceding the study, with
18 percent of children missing their meals, 8.2
percent experiencing not eating for an entire day
Figure 11. Percentage of households with per
capita food intake less than 100% of the dietary
requirement, 1993-2025
and 15.1 percent going hungry because there was
no food or money to buy food. But only a decline
of 1.85 percent yearly from 2003 to 2015 will be
required to reach the MDG.
If this recommended progress is sustained from
2015 to 2025, the proportion of households
with per capita intake of food less than the
recommended dietary requirements will go down
to 16.20 percent. The government-launched
Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition tried to
address this issue by distributing rice among public
school pupils in the poor provinces and by food
However, the food crisis experienced by the country
in the past year caused great food insecurity
among Filipinos. Even the coverage for the Food
for School Program was decreased from 40 of the
food-poorest provinces to only 20 in response to
the decreasing rice supply. We may soon be seeing
a movement against the projected trend due to the
food crisis of 2008.
It is widely known in the Philippines that
exclusive breastfeeding provides nutritional and
immunological benefits to newborns. Policies
dating back to 1986 (Milk Code) to the RoomingIn and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 up to the more
recent National Policies on Infant and Young Child
Feeding of 2005 promote breastfeeding as the safe
and adequate nutrition of infants. It is of no wonder
that 87-88 percent of Filipino mothers breastfeed
their children (Figure 12).
Figure 12. Percentage of infants that were ever
breastfed and breastfed exclusively for the first
six months, 1993-2003
Table 5 summarizes data from the 2003 NDHS on
the percentage of infants ever breastfed across
demographic groups. Unlike most data showing
performance between socioeconomic status,
educational attainment and geographic location,
the better performers are the poorer families, those
whose mothers received no education and those
coming from rural areas.
Table 5. Percentage of children who were
ever breastfed, by socioeconomic status,
location and educational attainment, 2003
Demographic Groups
Wealth Index
The government, in fact, is continually committing
itself to preserving the culture of breastfeeding
in the country. In 2006, for example, the
Presidential Proclamation to participate in the
World Breastfeeding Week was signed. This
enjoined stakeholders from government offices,
local government units, and non-governmental and
private sectors to mobilize their networks to sustain
a high level of awareness, support and protection
of breastfeeding.
Other projects are also being undertaken such as
Sabay-Sabay Sumuso sa Nanay, a simultaneous
breastfeeding activity in community health
centers, hospital, clinics and other venues to raise
awareness in breastfeeding. The City of Manila was
included in the Guinness World Book of Records for
having mobilized 3,541 mothers to simultaneously
breastfeed their children. However, despite these
additional attempts to promote breastfeeding, only
a third of infants are exclusively breastfed in the
first six months of life. A dip in its incidence was
even noted from 1998 to 2003.
No education
College or higher
This may be so because of the strong promotion
of breastfeeding as a measure that may be taken
against poverty, as it is the least costly source
of infant nutrition. Advocacy in breastfeeding is
under way in the poorest provinces of the nation.
Trainings on Infant and Young Child Feeding and
Care are also being conducted to teach community
health workers and midwives on the benefits of
breastfeeding to ensure that they will have the
knowledge and ability to encourage mothers to
breastfeed their children and to give sound advice
on safe, age-appropriate and adequate feeding
after six months up to two years and beyond.
The low-performing regions were Region IVA
(Calabarzon) with only 76.1 percent and NCR
with 78.3 percent. One of the identified reasons
for the preference for formula feeding is the
need for mothers to work. Another concern
is the decreasing mean duration for exclusive
breastfeeding from 1.4 to 0.8 months (Figure
13). Although the mean duration of breastfeeding
increased from 1998 to 2003, the recommended
practice is for exclusive breastfeeding for at least
six months after birth.
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
Figure 13. Mean duration of breastfeeding in
months, 1998-2003
In these urban areas where a large proportion of
mothers work outside the home, breastfeeding
may be promoted through the establishment
of breastfeeding areas in the workplace and
breastfeeding clinics in addition to the continuing
implementation of breastfeeding policies.
Adolescent Pregnancies
WHO recommends for the first pregnancy to be
timed to at least 18 years of age or older, as health
risks are increased for both mothers and their
newborns in early pregnancies. DOH statistics
reveal that fetal deaths are more prevalent among
young mothers, while babies born to them are
likely to have low birth weight, inborn defects,
mental problems, have development and learning
problems later in life (Perez, 1998 cited in
Sobritchea & Batangan, 2003).
In the Philippines, while the need to practice family
planning is great, access to reproductive health
services is inadequate. This is especially true for
adolescents. According to the 2006 FPS, around
6.3 percent of women aged 15-19 have already
begun childbearing. Only about one in 10 women in
this age group use modern contraceptive methods,
compared to one in three among married women
of reproductive age (2003 NDHS). When faced with
an unwanted pregnancy, adolescents are likely to
choose unsafe options to end it.
Since abortion is illegal in the Philippines and
whatever safe options available are probably
beyond their financial reach, a pregnant teenager
will most likely resort to induced abortion. A
survey of pregnancy termination in five regions
showed a significant proportion of teenagers who
had induced abortion (16.5%) compared While
the need to practice family planning is great,
access to reproductive health services, especially
for adolescents, is inadequate to those who
had normal deliveries (11.5%) or spontaneous
abortions (6.2%) (Diaz, 1998 cited in Sobritchea,
et. al., 2003).
Birth intervals were also found to be short in this
age group. To reduce risks of adverse maternal
and infant outcomes, the recommended interval
is at least 24 months before the next attempt
at pregnancy. However, according to the USAID
study “Healthy Timing & Spacing of Pregnancy in
the Philippines,” close to 50 percent of live births
to 15 to 19-year- olds are inadequately spaced.
The study notes that an infant born after a short
interval has increased chances of being born
pre-term, having below normal weight at birth,
and being small for gestational age. On the other
hand, a woman who becomes pregnant too quickly
following a previous birth, or induced abortion
or miscarriage, faces higher risks of anemia,
premature rupture of membranes, abortion,
miscarriage and death.
There is a need to improve the quality and delivery
of reproductive health services for the youth and to
take measures to actively engage both adolescent
mothers and fathers in family planning. The
DOH-created Adolescent and Youth Health and
Development Program is the expanded version of
the Adolescent Reproductive Heath component of
the Reproductive Health program in the Philippines.
Through this, adolescent and youth health services
are to be integrated into the health delivery
systems, empowering the youth by early education
and information sharing and providing gender
responsive health services.
Another area of concern is the increasing overall
prevalence of premarital sexual activity. Premarital
sex is on the rise among adolescents, increasing
from 18 percent in 1994 to 23 percent in 2002.
In the 2003 NDHS, 0.7 percent of women and
56.6 percent of men aged 15-19 who have never
been married had sex in the past 12 months.
Unfortunately, many engage in premarital sex
without adequate knowledge of how to avoid
pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
(STIs). A significant proportion of adolescents
engage in risky sexual behavior such as early
sex (11.7%), unprotected sex (between 19.2%
and 24.5%), or multiple sex partners (34.8%),
increasing their vulnerability to STIs and early
pregnancy. Three percent of the male respondents
in the 2003 NDHS reported that they had two
or more partners and 0.6 percent admitted to
have had paid for sex. Only 18.6 percent of this
group used a condom the first time they ever had
In 2002, the prevalence of STIs was highest among
the 18-24 age group. Self-reporting of STIs and/
or symptoms of genital discharge, sores or ulcers
remains low at around 8 percent (2003 NDHS).
There may be a need to pay closer attention to
adolescents in terms of education and delivery
of reproductive health services, given the rising
figures of teenagers engaging in premarital
sexual activity. Efforts to educate the youth on
reproductive health may be coursed through
the academic community using a simple, ageappropriate, yet comprehensive curriculum.
on sexuality, STIs and responsible sexual behavior
during adolescence may also affect their decisions
as they become young adults.
There has been a total of 3,061 reported HIV
Antibody seropositive and AIDS cases from 1984 to
2007, with 1.5 percent of the reported cases being
of children below 10 years of age. Figure 14 shows
the increasing number of reported HIV/AIDS cases
noted by DOH in the past few years. Despite the
rising number of reported cases, the prevalence
rate remains below one percent of the population,
which is well within our national target.
Figure 14. Number of reported HIV/AIDS cases,
But there may be a greater need to target
adolescents not being formally schooled, as the
2003 NDHS showed that more than 40 percent of
young mothers only received primary education.
This group will largely benefit from fieldwork visits
and distribution of IEC materials. The same survey
revealed that only 5.9 percent of women aged
15-19 who were not using contraception were
visited by a field worker to discuss family planning.
Properly trained health workers may be tapped to
deliver this service to their communities.
However, the 4th Medium Term Plan on HIV/
AIDS 2005-2010 sees that the trend is pointing
to a hidden and growing epidemic in the country.
Furthermore, the projected number of cases by
2015 may rise to 750, if left unchecked. It may
also be important to consider that cases may
be underreported, possibly due to the ill repute
associated with disclosing such a condition in a
conservative Catholic population.
The survey also showed that less than two-thirds
of respondents from the 15-19 age group heard
a family planning message in the past month on
the radio (51.0%) or television (61.3%), or read it
in a newspaper/magazine (34.7%), poster (31.2%)
or pamphlet (21.9%). There is much room for
improvement in this area, where great gains may
be obtained at a relatively low cost. Counseling
Sexual transmission is still considered as the main
cause of HIV infection. Needle sharing by IV drug
users is also a significant cause in spreading HIV.
Though the level of awareness regarding HIV/AIDS
is low across the age groups, UNAIDS’ UN Support
Plan 2005-2006 notes that this is particularly
true among the youth. According to the 2003
NDHS, although 93 percent of the respondents
from the 15-19 age group have heard of AIDS,
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
their awareness of the value of maintaining a
monogamous relationship with one uninfected
partner or using condoms to reduce the risk of
transmission is low.
Integrating HIV prevention into education and
conducting behavior intervention activities as early
as adolescence may bring about positive changes
later on in life. We may also need to look into
alternative ways of raising awareness in the youth
and engaging them in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In 2005, for example, UNICEF formally launched
the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign
in the country during an eight-hour marathon
concert which became an avenue for young people
to receive basic information about HIV/AIDS and
its transmission and prevention in a manner that
entertained them as well.
However, such campaigns may not be reaching
some of the groups that are in need of being
alerted to the perils of HIV/AIDS. In the 2003
NDHS, only 53 percent of the respondents aged
15-19 years old answered positively upon being
asked if they had known at least one source of
male condoms. Between various groups, this
knowledge is more widespread in urban areas and
richer families, as shown in Table 6. In addition
to this, misconceptions like transmission through
mosquito bites and supernatural means are still
common. In the same survey, only 36 percent
of all women and 30 percent of all men did not
accept these misconceptions. We should take
additional steps towards raising AIDS awareness of
adolescents from less privileged groups, especially
on the affordability and accessibility of male
condoms in their areas.
Table 6. Percentage of females and males aged
15-19 who know at least one source of male
condoms, by socioeconomic status and location,
Demographic Groups
Wealth Index
What Lies Ahead
There are three possible scenarios in the future
of our nation’s child health care. One may come
up by accelerating current improvements, thereby
reaching or even surpassing our set targets;
another by sustaining current progress, allowing
the Philippines to slowly inch towards our goals;
and lastly, a scenario that may arise from not fully
addressing current matters, both evident and
One of the common denominators which can be
observed of indicators from the different stages
of the child’s development is the need to level
performance between various socioeconomic
groups, geographic locations and levels of
educational attainment. More often than not,
poorer families, those living in rural areas, and
those whose mothers have not been educated are
at a disadvantage. In these groups, mortality rates
and the prevalence of preventable diseases are
high; children are not immunized and not properly
nourished; knowledge on diseases, transmission
and means of prevention are not widespread; and
health care services are not readily accessible or
There seems to be an invisible yet almost tangible
line demarcating the rich from the poor, the
educated from the uneducated, and those living
in the cities from those in the far-flung areas.
Stakeholders must be able to recognize the need
to decrease the stark disparities and decide to
target efforts towards these disadvantaged groups.
Investments in health focused on these groups
to level performance with the more privileged
ones, coupled with sustained or even improved
implementation of existing nationwide policies and
programs, will probably result in the acceleration of
our current progress.
But it may be important to note that continued
progress is possible even without thoroughly
addressing these disparities. Improvements will
probably be slow, as the country performance will
be dragged down by those of the underprivileged
groups despite sustained attempts to implement
and improve policies and programs at the national
However, it is also entirely possible that we will
be facing greater issues in the near future if the
gravity of disaggregation is taken lightly. Rates
of development as presented may crawl and,
eventually, not progress anymore. Change initiated
can never be too late, even at this point, but it may
come at a greater expense. By then, we may need
to make larger investments and exert stronger
efforts just to reach the minimal child survival
We should also take into consideration unforeseen
events which may hamper our progress, such
as the 2008 food crisis and the current global
financial crisis. During these times, we cannot bank
on surviving when our health care system is at
the brink of collapsing. It is therefore wiser to see
danger ahead and take prudent actions now while
we still can.
Taking Steps Today
The trends are already telling us the tale of our
possible tomorrow. But it is still essential to
recognize that child survival strategies will improve
if we bridge the gap between health care access
and health conditions in the various demographic
groups. Some national trends are encouraging us
to sustain our current efforts, as in the reduction
of infant and child mortality as well as in battling
However, the picture painted by country
performance is not fully reflective of what happens
in the regional and local levels. In its core still
lies the problem, whose weight is carried by the
underprivileged. The trends are also warning
us to keep a conscious eye on the prevalence
of HIV/AIDS in the country; particularly, to our
susceptible youth. Most trends, however, are calling
out for stronger policies to be formulated and
implemented and major program improvements to
be made.
Some of the areas essential to maintain, sustain
and increase coverage of basic child health
services are as follows:
• Strengthening support of government, nongovernmental and private sectors to existing
and future child health programs
• Firming up technical, financial and manpower
resources at the community level
• Addressing the exodus and poor distribution
of health personnel through strategic
policy solutions in health human resource
• Increasing demand for and utilization of
services by improving health-seeking behavior
through knowledge dissemination and
• esting out and gathering evidence on
best practices of service delivery through
monitoring and evaluation strategies and child
health management information systems
This report recommends the following specific
measures to be taken:
Ensure access to family planning services
and quality antenatal care
Fully implement the EmOC approach
Formulate policy, plans and programs
addressing infant mortality, specifically,
the major causes of perinatal and
neonatal mortalities
Review and improve the National Control
of ARI Program and National Control of
Diarrheal Disease Program
Increase coverage of the Expanded
Program on Immunization by adjusting
the frequency of designated immunization
days in far-flung areas
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
Extend coverage of the Food for School
Program to more areas and sustain
efforts in various food fortification
Continue initiatives promoting
breastfeeding and create more ingenious
projects involving the community
Assess and strengthen implementation of
components of the Adolescent and Youth
Health and Development Program
Provide alternative means raising HIV/
AIDS awareness in the youth
Ensuring quality delivery of health services in a
cost-effective and sustainable manner will require
adequate financing. Without sufficient funding,
identification of interventions for programs to be
at their efficient and effective best will remain on
In the past decade and a half, the principal
source for financing health in the Philippines has
significantly remained as out-of-pocket spending
(47.7% in 1991 and 47% in 2004, as recorded by
the Philippine National Health Accounts). However,
Social Health Insurance has increased, though not
dramatically, from 5.4 percent in 1991 to around
10 percent in 2004. Government share, on the
other hand, has decreased from 38.5 percent in
1991 to 30 percent in 2004. From the perspective
of households, these trends show no immediate
relief from the high and escalating cost of medical
treatment. At the national and local levels of
government, the mindset of health care being an
expenditure must be corrected, as it should more
properly be viewed as an investment.
In all of these proposed measures to take, focused
targeting will need to be at its heart so that the
poor, the uneducated and the remote will be
catered to. These major improvements will ask
for involvement of stakeholders from the different
sectors of society. Although our task list appears
to be incredibly lengthy, the future of our children’s
health is still in our hands. We can still make
changes today, in hope of shaping tomorrow’s
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
By Dr. Francisco L. Viray and Myrna M. Velasco
Given indomitable future economic expansion and
people’s improving lifestyles, energy will continue
to be a key component of human existence – ours
and the generations after us.
And as the demand for both electricity and fuels
will continue to escalate, this country certainly
cannot leave its energy future to chance. As history
has taught us, and judging by the day’s newspaper
headlines, the goal toward energy security trails
rough patches ahead. Essentially, the problems
hobbling the global energy sector do not have
simple solutions, and overcoming the challenges
will depend on the actions taken today.
Policymakers in fact see it as one of the most
significant economic and national security
challenges of the 21st century. Things will turn
out even more complicated as we integrate
into the solution path the intertwined goal of
preserving the environment while ensuring
reliable and sustainable energy. Specific policy
approaches indeed have to be assessed in terms
of their effectiveness, scale and required costs of
The Philippines is giving “energy independence”
a big push, but practical reality suggests that
we cannot totally insulate ourselves from
developments in other parts of the world. In an
interdependent world, there are policy agendas
that have to be addressed on a global scale, such
as the risks of climate change; also, there are
international market developments that affect us
on a level that could equal the experience of even
developed countries.
Focus on the Rights of the Child
Children have the right to quality of life that will be
driven by economic growth. On these twin issues,
energy is a vital and necessary input.
Nevertheless, energy is also pointed to as the
culprit of climate change which endangers the
world population and, for that matter, the children.
That is in addition to other health strains that
some energy resources trigger on human health,
predominantly the impact of fossil fuels.
As enshrined under the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child and the UN Millennium
Development Goals, it is imperative for the present
generation to strategically shape future energy
policies that shall address concerns of preserving
the environment and balancing it with the need for
economic development and ensuring the access
of the poorer segments of the population to such
basic modern necessity as electricity.
RP’s Electricity Access via Electrification
* The country already achieved 98.03%
barangay electrification level
(41,155 out of 41,980 barangays have been
* Registered 80% household connection level
(Energized 13,849,509 out of 17,361,546)
Source: National Electrification Administration, August 2009.
Experts have opined that crafting the future
policies would require examining long-term
conditions tied to economic growths and
prospective material changes in energy’s demandsupply balance that may be brought about
by advancements in technology application,
development of new supply sources, demographic
changes (such as population migration to urban
centers) and even political events.
Similarly included in the list of future trends that
can drive up energy demand are the increasing
use of cyberspace for learning and communication;
proliferation of electric toys, gadgets and
household appliances; and new waves of explosion
in information and communication technologies.
Energy Supply Issues
Energy security has been a major concern in
our country. The country has been and will
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
continuously be vulnerable to the international
energy market situation unless our strong
dependence on imported sources is addressed.
This was illustrated during the oil price shocks in
1973 and 1979, the Iran-Iraq tanker war in 19811988 and the Gulf War in 1990. These episodes
in the country’s history elicited various actions to
ensure energy supply in the country. The 1973
crisis accelerated the search for local petroleum
and other indigenous energy sources including
geothermal, hydro and nuclear systems. The
programs increased the domestic energy share to
38 percent in 1987. The most recent global energy
crisis, however, takes a different nature.
The drastic oil price surge, to a large degree, is
attributed to the diminishing levels of fossil fuel
reserves in the world. Crude oil prices behave much
as any other commodity with wide price swings in
times of shortage or oversupply. The crude oil price
cycle may extend over several years, responding to
changes in demand as well as OPEC and non-OPEC
supply and world events. Despite escalating oil
prices, petroleum products will remain a dominant
Industry experts and analysts explain that the
next high-priced energy regime will be driven by
factors that include: population explosion (from 3
billion to 9 billion until 2050) and higher spending
capacities of the next generation, consequently
driving up demand; shift in economic growths
with developing countries like China leading the
charge; the declining output of producing oil fields;
and the intensifying bid for companies to employ
clean technology in energy projects to address the
worsening climate change challenge.1
After the oil shock of the seventies, the next round
of “super spike” in prices was observed in July
2008 when costs of global crude hit through the
roof at $147 per barrel. Experts started setting off
projections of the “peak oil era,” but the situation
shifted course after the global economy collapsed
because of the financial crisis that thumped
developed countries, primarily the United States
and the Eurozone areas.
The low-price transition being experienced at
present shall not close the books, experts say,
noting forecasts that “there will be another side to
the 2008 oil price collapse.”
2000 $/Barrel
Illustration 1. Factors Affecting Oil Prices (1947-May 2008)
Source: WTRG Economics, Oil Price History and Economics (
Figure 1. Crude Oil Prices (US$ per barrel) – Prices Turn the Corner Twice
Yearly Average
Note: Weighted by calendar days
Source: Energy Intelligence Research, June 2009.
Simulations provided by the New York-based Energy
Intelligence Research indicated that after the price
drops in the first quarter of 2009, oil prices will be
on continued up-ticks this year until 2010. The tenyear outlook (2009 to 2018) is even more dismal,
albeit prescriptive. Prices are seen surging past
$200 per barrel in a high-case scenario, and way
above $115 per barrel under a low-case scenario.
The base case is seen at $165-$170 per barrel
range within the forecast period.
Onward to 2030, the projection is that global
primary energy consumption will be growing by
1.6 percent per annum, or an equivalent of 45
percent rise in the next 20 years. Transportation
and commercial sectors are expected to log highest
demand growths; while energy consumption
of industrial and residential segments will be
expanding at a slower pace.
Nevertheless, caution has been raised over a
lingering disconnect between “low-demand” and
the need to plan new investments to meet future
demand expansion. Referencing back to the low
prices prevailing during “weak demand period” of
the 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in market
oversupply (abundant spare capacity), supplydemand balance was jolted when oil demand
suddenly jacked up because of unprecedented
strong economic growths and the markets just
relied heavily on that spare capacity.
A mismatch developed between demand and
supply growth, when China and India began to
drive a new period of global economic growth. Such
energy planning distortion became apparent in
the early to mid-2000s, when spare capacity was
exhausted and demand began to outstrip supply,
hence, resulting in surging oil prices. (Marican,
Will a repeat of all-time high prices anywhere
hit us again? The market still has a leeway to
manage inexorable price volatilities, experts say,
– but first, the strategy must be established as to
understanding and sorting out concerns that shall
concretely define energy security goals.
Illustration 2. Philippine Energy Demand Projections by Sector (DOE, 2007)
Source: Philippine Energy and Environment: Research and Development Report (Viray, Acosta, Culaba, La Viña, Puno and Zabaleta, 2009).
Figure 2. Historical Oil Industry Demand-Philippine Setting
All Products
(Total) Net of Diesel/
IFO for Power
Source: Philippine Institute of Petroleum, 2008
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
Conflicts in Energy Planning: The
Philippine Setting
Energy industry stakeholders have been putting
forward a call on government to play its card well
in the policy domain – and when feasible, it should
avoid falling into the trap of short-sighted and
populist-oriented solutions.
The Philippines – being one of the countries in the
world with the chunk of its population living below
the poverty line – has remained conflict-ridden as
to its energy policy approaches.
While some policymakers recognize the intent and
soundness of efficient and long-term planning,
leadership oftentimes backs down to populist
agendas especially when emotions run high
because of high electricity or oil prices.
Conversely, what they have been failing to realize
is that investments to ensure the country’s path
to energy security will not flow when governments
cannot ensure stable fiscal and regulatory regimes
for investors.
We have already been hit once by a severe power
crisis – the massive blackouts experienced in the
1990s that wiped out most of our gains, especially
in the economic front.
The Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) of the Department
of Energy (DOE) is prescriptive of a possible strike
Illustration 3: 2008 Power Supply Mix
of a new round of power interruptions in the next
three to four years if capacity additions are not set
in place as they are needed.
Given the long gestation period for power plant
projects (mostly stretching three to five years),
energy planners have been cautioned against
further flip-flopping in policy crafting. If the
country’s energy planners are serious in averting
any new round of power crisis, they would already
need to work fast on cornering those much-needed
Several areas in the Visayas, primarily within
the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) grid, are already
suffering from the scourge of rotating power
outages. The Mindanao grid is similarly confronting
a precarious situation as to its near-term power
requirements. When capital flows for greenfield
(new) power projects are not addressed quickly by
investors, it will not take long before the Mindanao
grid to be similarly afflicted with brownouts.3
According to the DOE, the critical period for the
Luzon grid to have on stream additional capacity
will be pushed back to year 2013.4 Until 2014, the
aggregate capacity addition expected on line would
be 2,290 megawatts.
Generally for Visayas, the most critical period
is 2011, save for the areas already short of
capacity. The region will need to boost its
capacity by 980MW until 2014, according to the
updated Philippine Energy Plan (2007-2014).
Expected capacities to be on-line starting 2011
are the 200-MW coal plant expansion of the
Naga facility in Cebu of the Salcon-Korea Electric
Power Corporation consortium, as well as the
246MW power project of Global Business Power
Corporation of the Metrobank group.
Mindanao is still relatively safe when it comes to
additional capacity requirement, except under
drought conditions because the grid still relies
predominantly on hydro. By 2014, the aggregate
capacity addition logged in DOE’s plan is 1,080MW.
Source: DOE-Power Development Plan
Illustration 4. Future Power Capacity Requirements
Source: Presentation of Director Nestor P. Arcansalin, Board of
Investments (Powertech Forum, September 2009)
Demystifying Risks and Strategies
in Deregulation Policies
The vision of instituting deregulation policies,
both in the oil and electricity sectors, is stimulated
by prospects of introducing competition in the
marketplace – which in turn will result in lower
prices. It also sets a policy framework that would be
able to expand choices for consumers.
In the same vein, privatization as a strategy will
free up the government of a huge financial burden
in putting up much-needed energy infrastructures
to underpin the country’s economic long-term
economic growth.
The move to deregulate the industry, in particular,
was anchored chiefly on the goal to dismantle the
70-year-old monopoly of the state-run National
Power Corporation, consequently widening the
base of competition in the industry.
For ordinary electricity consumers, deregulation
has raised expectations on potential reduction
in power rates. Nevertheless, this remains an
unfulfilled goal as premised on benefits purportedly
promised by the framers and advocates of the
Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). The
subsequent milestone being watched closely
will be the effectiveness of implementation of
open access – or the regime that will finally allow
consumers to choose their preferred electricity
suppliers. Done efficiently, industry players say,
the open access regime will be the ultimate key to
cheaper electricity rates for the country.
On the flip side, it is believed that the demandsupply gap will likewise be temporarily plugged
with the planned efficiency upgrades being
undertaken by the buyers of the privatized NPC
plants. According to the Power Sector Assets and
Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), this
will shore up available capacity in the Luzon grid by
14 percent and will likely stretch supply and defer
investments for greenfield capacities by at least a
And when additional capacity is finally needed in
the three major grids, these same private investors
will take the cudgels of capital infusion for new
power projects.
Since government, or NPC for that matter, can no
longer enter into power supply contracts based
on the provisions of the EPIRA, the options left
for power investors would be to directly negotiate
off-take agreements (bilateral supply contracts)
with distribution utilities and other end users
for their acquired facilities or new projects.
However, credit risk concerns are being raised
on electric cooperatives as potential off-takers,
because most of them are rated not financiallycapable to underwrite power supply agreements.
Big distribution utilities like the Manila Electric
Company (Meralco) also experience financial
dilemmas from time-to-time due to regulatory lag
predicaments (i.e., delays in their cost recoveries).
Investors are taking on their investment plans very
cautiously because of issues on market risks. The
key question begging an answer is: what are the
available markets for investors in power?
There are also lingering concerns as to when true
competition will thrive in the deregulated power
industry – either through the envisioned open
access regime or at trading at the Wholesale
Electricity Spot Market.
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
Figure 3: Summary of NPC Power Generation Assets Sold/Auctioned
Power Plant
Capacity (MW)
Date of Bidding
Bid Price(US$M)
Talomo Hydro (Mindanao)
March 25, 2004
Agusan Hydro (Mindanao)
Barit Hydro (Luzon)
June 4, 2004
June 25, 2004
Cawayan Hydro (Luzon)
Loboc Hydro (Visayas)
Hydro (Luzon)
Magat Hydro (Luzon)
Masinloc Coal (Luzon)
September 30,
November 10,
September 7,
December 14,
July 26, 2007
Ambukalo-Binga Hydro
November 2008,
Tiwi-MakBan Geothermal
July 30, 2008
Panay-Bohol Diesel
November 12,
December 10,
April 2010
Amlan Hydro
Calaca Coal
Limay Thermal (Luzon)
May 2010
*Level of privatization (based on plants turned over and bid out) – 81% (total: 3,778.23MW)
Winning Bidder
First Gen
Atty. Ramon
Sta. Clara Int’l.
First Gen
SN Aboitiz Power
AES Power
(Masinloc Power
Partners Co. Ltd.)
– American firm
SN Aboitiz Power
(SN Power is
Norwegian firm)
AP Renewables
Inc. (Aboitiz
SPC Power
joint venture)
ICS Renewables
Re-bidding won
by DMCI Holdings
of the Consunji
winning bidder
Suez Energy Asia
firm) backed
out from the
San Miguel
Turned Over to
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
Turned Over
*For financial
*For financial
Other Privatization Milestones
* Turnover of TransCo concession contract to
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
(NGCP), joint venture of local firm Monte Oro
Grid Resources Corporation and State Grid of
China, on January 15, 2009.
(This realized $3.95 billion in government
revenues from the 25-year concession
* Successful bidding for the appointment of
Independent Power Producer Administrators
(IPPAs) for the Sual and Pagbilao coal-fired
plants to San Miguel Energy Corporation
and Therma Luzon Inc. of the Aboitiz Group,
(The privatization of NPC contracts via
IPPA engagements is among the legal
requirements for the introduction of open
access in the deregulated power industry.)
* Simultaneous privatization efforts are
undertaken for the provision of power supply
in NPC’s Small Power Utilities Group (NPCSPUG) or those serving off-grid remote areas.
“bargaining position” with the host governments
as to their preferred contract terms. The lowdown,
however, is always higher costs to be paid by
Consumer discontent has been fed wildly by
historic highs in pump prices that reigned for the
most part in 2008. Like the “oil shock” of the
1980s that principally triggered global economic
recession then, the drastically-surging oil prices
surfaced once again this decade in the equation.
The spikes in oil prices have radical economic
implications because of their spiraling impact on
food prices, transportation and manufacturing
costs, wages and a flurry of other economic
Figure 4. Investments in the Deregulated
Downstream Oil Industry
No. of
Players in
(in Billion Pesos)
Liquid Fuel Bulk Marketing
Fuel Retail Marketing
(including auto-LPG)*
LPG Bulk Marketing
Source: PSALM, 2009
Oil and Its Discontents
*Includes 226 independent gas stations
The dilemmas of power sector stakeholders on
politicized investment policies are similarly shared
by investors in the oil industry which entered the
market upon its deregulation in 1998.
Despite continuous capital flow in the downstream
oil sector, troubles often jolt the industry especially
when pump prices trail uphill climbs. Over the
past 10 years, approximately P35-billion-worth
of investments have already been coughed up by
private investors in the sector.5
As proven time and again, investors are often
willing to accept some risks on their investments –
but that is premised on the fact that they shall be
assured of prudent and stable policies. Sometimes,
they feel that it might even be better to wait for
a crisis situation since that gives them a better
Source: Oil Industry Management Bureau, Department of Energy
Notwithstanding the current global economic
slump, the general projection is that supplydemand balance in oil markets may remain
unpredictable in the future – partly due to sluggish
supply responses from oil-producing countries,
declining inventories and spare capacity, and
the recurrent strike of geopolitical factors, such
as extreme swings in weather conditions and
terrorists/militants’ assault on oil-producing
The phenomenon of volatile petroleum prices is not
unique to the Philippines though. Globally, even the
world’s “super powers,” like the United States, are
not shielded from the impact of price volatilities.
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
Shifting Geography
The energy picture of the future, experts concur,
will be marked by geographical shifts both in supply
flow and demand growth.
Conventional crude supply from the North Sea
and North America will peter out; hence, a shift
in supply points will lean toward the Middle
East Gulf, Russian Far East, East Africa (Red
Sea) and Australasia (for liquefied natural gas).
Demand growth, on the other hand, will swing to
developing countries, primarily South Asia and East
Asia wherein China may remain a growth driver
(Knapp, 2009).6 The Atlantic Basin and East of
Suez, nevertheless, will remain as major crude oil
markets for some time.
Consolidation in the roles of international oil
companies (IOCs) and national oil companies
(NOCs) is similarly anticipated. “IOCs are also losing
shares to NOCs, but won’t disappear,” studies have
The perceived increasing nervousness of oilproducing countries, including the powerful
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC), due to the relentless strike of geopolitical
factors is likewise expected to stir up relentless
questions over supply security. For instance,
current developments making the market fidgety
now include assaults on oil installations at the
Niger Delta region, the North Korea nuclear
enrichment concern, and the Iraq-Afghanistan and
Israel-Palestine conflicts.
To ease the impact of the country’s heavy
dependence on imported oil, the DOE is making an
aggressive push on investments for indigenous oil
and gas exploration, but efforts in this sphere are
still fledgling. Big discoveries that would match the
potential of the $4.5 billion Malampaya deep waterto-gas power project are what the country needs at
this point.
Biofuels and other alternatives are also tucked into
the country’s energy agenda, but as the policy is
being tugged into the “food-versus-fuel debate,” it
has been proposed that such option may require
closer examination.
The interlinked factors to biofuels are the
recent increases in food prices and at times
supply shortages that have sparked off food
riots in various parts of the world. For the other
alternatives in the transport sector, such as
compressed natural gas (CNG), hybrid vehicles, fuel
cells or hydrogen, the limiting factors range from
lack of infrastructure to high investment costs and
weak policy support.
Resolving the Issue of Power
There is a never-ending debate precipitated by
industrial and commercial end users’ relentless
complaint over expensive electricity rates in the
country – it being one of the highest in Asia. On
the other side of the fence, investors in the power
sector claim that power prices remain artificially
low because of some remaining subsidies
embedded in the rates.
Many believe this is an important concern to be
resolved, so investors and consumers would get a
clearer picture of how the energy sector would take
shape in the future.
The expensive electricity rates in the Philippines
has been viewed as the biggest source of
“unattractiveness” to foreign and local investments,
primarily for power-intensive industries such as the
semiconductor and electronics sectors, which are
the backbone of the country’s exports.
A technical paper on “Electricity Pricing and Tax
Policy: The Supply-Side Perspective” written by
University of the Philippines Professor Dante B.
Canlas7 stipulated that if the country would want to
gain back its competitive advantage as investment
destination in Asia, “it is important to address the
biggest source of its uncompetitiveness — the high
electric power costs.”
The Philippines is unfortunately at the bottom
spectrum in terms of competitiveness, as culled
from the 2007 Report on Global Competitiveness
Ranking. Its 71st rank was way too low as
compared to its neighbors in the Asean region –
Figure 5: Investment Requirement for Oil/Gas Exploration and Production and Alternative Fuels
(in billion pesos)
Oil and Gas (E&P)
1.30 *(carry
overfrom 2008)
Source: Department of Energy, August 2009.
Note: The investment on biodiesel does not include yet those being poured in by government for the development of jatropha as feedstock
for biodiesel production.
with Singapore in the 7th spot, Malaysia in 21st
place and Thailand at 28th place. Even those
deemed as its closest rival countries – Indonesia
and Vietnam – fared better at 54th and 68th
rankings, respectively.
The emphasis on power rate reduction efforts
has been proposed to be with the export-oriented
manufacturing businesses because of their
multiplier effect on the economy – given their
quantified input into the country’s gross domestic
product (GDP) growth and to the government’s
revenue collection. That would be in addition to
their contribution to job generation and knowledge
The other critical concern, as raised by power
investors, would be to reflect “true cost of
electricity.” Over the years, the politically palliative
approach of government in bringing down power
rates by introducing various forms of subsidies was
commonly observed. This led to distortion in pricing
signals and market forces, which in the end drive
consumers and taxpayers to eventually carry the
costs of these subsidies.
The EPIRA prescribes various regulatory and
institutional reforms that will eventually lead the
industry into resolving the issue of power rates.
Firstly, investors must seek long-term bilateral
contracts for their generated capacities so they will
not unduly expose electricity consumers to price
volatilities in the electricity spot market. Secondly,
true competition must exist so “price wars” may
also evolve once the industry reaches an open
access era.
Illustration 5. Comparative Industrial
Generation Costs in Asia.
Source: Electricity Pricing and Tax Policy: A Supply-Side
Perspective, (Canlas, Technical Report, March 2008).
“One way to help our industries compete globally
is to allow them to choose their source of
electricity. By allowing open access, large industrial
consumers can avail of competitive rates,”
President Arroyo declared when she laid down
policy direction for open access at the Philippine
Energy Summit in February 2008.
Figure 6: 2009 Adjustment in NPC’s Basic
Generation Rate
Changing Tomorrow’s Health Today
The steep increases in the prices of raw materials,
primarily steel and cement, in turn triggered recent
increases in construction costs for power projects.
Figure 7: Percentage of Rate Components
Charged to Customers*
Rate Components
Percentage Share
System Loss
Distribution Charges**
Taxes and subsidies***
*Based on 2008 Average Electricity Rate charged by Meralco
**Distribution charges include retail customer charge, metering
system charge and supply charge
***Taxes include Value Added Tax (VAT) and franchise taxes;
while subsidies and other charges include Lifeline Subsidy Rates
and Universal Charges
(By definition, universal charges are those costs passed on to
consumers that account for environmental fund, missionary
electrification, and stranded contract costs relating to unused
capacity from IPP contracts and the NPC’s debts.)
Project Costs and Technology
“These costs increases have primarily been due
to high global demand for commodities and
manufactured goods, higher production and
transportation costs (in part owing to high fuel
prices),” the study noted. For instance, the cost
of building coal-fired plants in the Philippines
was reported rising to a range of $1.6 million to
$2.0 million/MW from previous estimates of $1.0
Dramatic upward adjustments in the cost of
construction and installation were similarly noted in
natural gas-fired power and nuclear power projects;
while the cost of building wind power facilities have
risen from $1,150/kW to a range of $1,300 to
$1,700/kW, as reported in some countries.
Illustration 6: Comparative Costs for Power
Capacity (US cents/kWh)
Apart from the long-standing dilemma of
prospective off-takers (buyers) on their planned
capacity, project sponsors of power plants may
also be saddled with significant increases in
construction and labor costs.
For various technologies that could be utilized for
power plant projects, international studies showed
that installation and construction costs alone have
gone up between 65 percent to 95 percent in 2005
and 2006 from their 2000 cost levels. While the
economic crisis momentarily pulled capital costs
down, the high-priced regime is seen to recur once
the scramble for new projects mounts as the global
economy recovers.
A study done by the US consulting firm The Brattle
Group indicated that the recent increases in
construction costs of utility infrastructure (such
as power plants, transmission lines and power
distribution facilities) may “translate to higher rates
that consumers might face as a result of required
infrastructure investment.”
Source: Luis Miguel Aboitiz, Presentation at Powertech Forum
(September 2009).
As stated, technology will in the same way occupy a
critical spot in future energy planning – especially
with forecasts that traditional energy sources such
as coal and oil will remain “king” in the energy mix.
The downside is that these two fossil fuel sources
also emit the bulk of greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions polluting the world.
Nonetheless, policy planners are putting their
bets on technological solutions to bring down CO2
emissions from fossil fuel power facilities.
In developed countries, like the United States
and Europe, experiments are being carried out
for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) and
the integrated gasification and combined cycle
(IGCC) technologies. Although it may take more
years before these could be proven to be viable for
applications on commercial scale, the high costs of
these technologies similarly serve as deterrent.
The other option being considered by resource
planners would be nuclear power projects,
especially for the long-term energy needs of the
country. Like coal, though, there are serious
issues to be addressed in taking the “nuclear
renaissance” option – chiefly on operational safety
concerns, waste management and recycling of
spent fuel, and most especially public acceptance,
among others.
Cheap vs Clean
Atthe core of all the options being offered on the
table, policy debates are treading next into the
question of what consumers would prefer — cheap
or clean energy?
As expensive electricity remains high among the
issues that bother Filipino consumers, in the
“cheap versus clean debate,” it is seen that cheap,
to be represented by coal, will likely dominate the
country’s power mix in the short term.
In fact, most of the power projects being planned
and firmed up by private sector sponsors are coalfired. What project sponsors have been offering as
saving grace for the environment for these type of
facilities are the utilization of more advanced clean
coal technologies which have higher efficiencies,
such as the fluidized coal bed type.
Bridging strategies, such are carbon sinks via
reforestation projects and even energy-efficiency
initiatives, are also being pursued largely to help
balance out carbon emissions from power facilities.
Government Initiatives on Energy Efficiency
and Conservation
• Efficient lighting initiatives (including
switch to compact fluorescent lamps from
incandescent bulbs)
• Efficiency initiatives in buildings and
• Establishment of super-ESCOs (Energy
Services Companies)
• Promotion of demand-side management
• Advocating passage of the Energy
Conservation Bill
Environmental Impact of Energy
Energy security efforts come in the light of ensuring
a cleaner environment. Data indicates that mean
atmospheric temperature in the country is rising,
which could be traced to global warming. This trend
is expected to continue unless global efforts to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions are realized.
The planned increase in coal power share could
increase the country’s greenhouse gas emissions if
not properly planned and managed. The country’s
vehicle reference standards continue to be lax
compared with other countries, slowing down
the diffusion of cleaner vehicle technologies. It is
encouraging to note, however, that the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is
set to upgrade these standards in the near future.
In addition to global warming, energy production
and transport are the leading causes of
atmospheric acidity. Acidification impact concerns
have increased in recent years such that plans
are now being explored to set up internationally a
sulfur trading program in addition to carbon trading
( Klaassen, 1995).
Emissions from power generation and transport are
major health concerns, accounting for majority of
particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and
carbon monoxide emissions. It could be noted that
a number of leading causes of death in the country
are strongly linked with air pollution like malaria,
dengue and cholera.
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
These global and local environmental concerns
would have to take center stage in the country’s
energy security program and plan.
Climate Change
The bigger problem inherently connected to the
energy sector is climate change – a phenomenon
which is also largely blamed for most of the natural
disasters plaguing the world today.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) warned early on that the world only has 15
years to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius
Experts and policy planners agree that a
comprehensive global agreement must be reached
to accelerate efforts at bucking the odds of
environmental degradation.
Some have opined that to bring about a transition
from the old fossil-fuel based economy to a
modern, low-carbon society would need increasing
utilization of renewable energy sources and
promoting initiatives for embracing energy-efficient
lifestyles (such as replacing incandescent bulbs
with compact fluorescent lamps or patronizing
energy-saving appliances).
Businesses are likewise encouraged to undertake
retrofitting in their buildings or adhere to energysaving practices that can help them bring down
electricity consumption and benefit them with
savings in utility bills.
A sustainable framework for carbon emissions
trading set off by the Kyoto Protocol must also be
set in place. By 2012, new trading mechanisms
as a follow-through to the Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM) post-Kyoto must be successfully
reached by global leaders to spur emission-cutting
According to the International Energy Agency
(IEA), focus on improvements of carbon footprints
will be in the Asian region, given its emerging
economies led by India and China. But equally
important to China’s commitment to bring down
carbon footprints could be the cooperation that the
United States must demonstrate in the forthcoming
climate change debates in Copenhagen this
December 2009.
Amid all the concerns raised on energy policy
formulations, the forbidding call is a shift to cleaner
energy sources, primarily leaning to renewable
energy development. There’s a catch, though.
While there are national aspirations for a shift in
the energy mix towards cleaner energy sources,
particularly towards geothermal, hydro and even
some renewables like wind and biomass, the speed
of transformation to these alternatives will not be
Figure 8: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions from Energy Use (In million metric tons)
Fuel Types
Oil/Oil Products
Natural Gas
Source: DOE/DENR
Renewable Energy
Shoring Up Investment Prospects
Despite the drawbacks, the Philippines evidently
wants to get ahead in the policy direction towards
accelerating RE development. As the whole
world took sweeping bets on cleaner energy, the
government with the DOE taking the lead swiftly
took its way through the Congressional maze to
ensure the passage of the Renewable Energy Act
of 2008.
From all indications, the government is keen at
cornering much-needed investment dollars to help
shore up the share of renewable energy in the
country’s energy mix. But just when investors were
showing waning appetite to invest in the sector, the
government offered a package of incentives under
the RE Law that is sure to win over their interest.
The passage of the RE measure in December
was considered the “perfect gateway” to stir up
opportunities for RE-based capacity investments.
The Philippine government’s thrust of expanding
renewable energy development was anchored
on goals to enhance the country’s energy
independence to 60 percent by 2010, as laid down
under the DOE-crafted Philippine Energy Plan.
Renewable energy, also commonly referred to as
“green power,” is the electricity that is generated
from resources that don’t run out (infinite), or
are quickly renewed through natural process.
These would include power supply produced from
biomass, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, ocean
energy sources and even hybrid systems, as
defined under the RE Law.
While all methods of electricity generation
practically affect the environment, renewable
energy is among the cleanest – having the least
over-all environmental impact, according to studies.
Figure 9: Renewable Energy Generation Capacity
RE Resource
2007 Existing
Capacity (MW)
2008 Existing
Capacity (MW)
Source: DOE, September 2009.
The policy provides premium incentives, namely:
seven-year income tax holiday (ITH) for RE
resources that can be categorized as “new
investments”; zero-rated value added tax (VAT)
for the sale of fuel or power generated from RE
sources; duty-free importation of RE machinery,
equipment and materials for the first 10 years from
the issuance of certification to the RE developer;
special realty tax rates on equipment and
machinery; and the chance to enjoy a significantlyreduced corporate tax rate of 10 percent on
net taxable income after seven years of ITH as
compared to the prevailing corporate income tax
rate of 35 percent.
To perk up market prospects for renewable energy,
the law also provides for Renewable Portfolio
Standards (RPS) – the parameters of which are
yet to be drawn by the National Renewable Energy
Board (NREB). The RPS would refer to a marketbased policy that shall require electricity suppliers
(i.e., distribution utilities and power generators)
to source or offer an agreed portion of their
energy supply from RE eligible sources. The other
incentives are: feed-in tariff that shall be fixed for
12 years by the Energy Regulatory Commission; a
“must dispatch” for intermittent RE sources (such
as wind and hydro); and the net metering system
that allows end users who will be installing their
own RE systems (i.e., households) to enter into
agreements with distribution utilities/suppliers on
the sale of their surplus capacities to the grid.
For end-users/consumers, they may opt to avail of
the “Green Energy Option” or the mechanism that
shall empower them to choose renewable energy
in meeting their power requirements, which in turn
will entitle them to rebates.
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
RE’s Integration in the Country’s
Energy Mix
Presently, the most abundant RE sources
in the Philippine energy mix are geothermal
and hydro, taking 17 percent and 11 percent
shares, respectively. DOE forecasts indicate that
geothermal and hydro resources will provide for up
to 40 percent of the country’s power supply over
the medium-term (until year 2014).
Figure 10: Targeted Additional Renewable
Energy Investments (2009-2014)
Many of the existing investors in RE resources are
also gearing up for expansion. Yet they claim that
they are still apprehensive of potential market risks
and how the regulatory environment will eventually
take shape.
Source: DOE, September 2009.
Despite issues of dislocations, the capital-intensive
nature of investments and long-gestation period for
hydropower projects, their share in the country’s
power mix is seen to reach significant level in the
coming years. But for the next wave of investments
for industrial-scale hydropower facilities, experts
qualify that social acceptability would be a central
issue. Studies and post-evaluation reports of some
hydropower projects in some countries indicate
that public resistance will intensify and thrive as
a tougher challenge, given incidents of upstream
flooding, destruction of agricultural areas and
disruption of host communities in some of the
completed hydropower projects.
Geothermal investments, on one hand, are hurdled
by dilemmas of perceived high investment costs.
Investors noted that the set of incentives may
not still be attractive enough to offset the level
of market and political risks inherently linked to
geothermal investments. The upfront capital cost
involved in developing geothermal power projects
would range from US$1,150 to US$3,000 per
installed kilowatt (costs vary depending on the size
and type of the power plant and the quality of the
resource). Yet, this is still comparably higher than a
natural gas facility.
On DOE’s assessment, the development of these
traditional RE-based resources will be done
alongside solar (i.e., photovoltaic or PV systems
which are mainly targeted for rural electrification),
biomass and wind, which the government also
envisions to be undertaken on wide-scale use.
RE Resource
Megawatt Capacity
It is likewise believed that wind as a renewable
technology option has come of age, but it takes
much more to prove its sustainability. The bigger
arguments are focused on concerns that wind
power projects are not cost-competitive and their
reliability is less dependable (intermittent).
Nevertheless, government planners are bent on
stimulating investments on wind power farms, as
this is part of the overall goal to shift to cleaner
fuels and to push the country closer to energy
self-sufficiency targets. The first wind power project
constructed on commercial scale was the 25-MW
Northwind power facility in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. It
was commissioned in 2005 and now supplies part
of the Luzon grid’s requirement
The Philippines, being situated on the fringes of
the Asia-Pacific monsoon belt, exhibits a promising
potential for wind energy, according to data from
the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and
Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
which shows the country as having a mean average
of about 31 watts per square meter (W/m2) of
wind power density. Such findings were validated
by a study conducted in 1999 by the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United
States, stipulating that the country has good-toexcellent wind resource potential that can yield
70,000 MW of potential installed capacity when
fully harnessed.
Beyond the incentives, investors said they
also need to assess stability in the political
environment, consistency in the application and
implementation of the incentive programs, and the
host country’s respect for contractual obligations.
The Human Factor: Education and
Capacity Building for the Future
From the energy policies crafted by our present
leaders, a deeper recognition must roll up that the
next generations are entitled to grow and live in
healthy environments and that their needs are met
by a sustainably-growing economy.
Conversely, for our children or grandchildren to
make intelligent choices and build upon effective
policy approaches, they must first gain knowledge
and enhance their appreciation of having a secure
energy future.
The young people in particular will be taking over
when the current workforce in the energy sector
faces retirement in the coming decades. Yet there
are challenges that they must overcome today
so they will thrive as effective energy planners or
policy implementers into the future.
There are no existing quantifiable data as to
the young generation’s extent of knowledge or
awareness of the issues in the energy sector.
But their needs are obvious — in terms of
incorporating energy-related courses or curriculum
in schools and universities, the expansion of
related education and training programs, skills
improvement and development of innovative
capabilities on technology discoveries, and
enhancement of research and development
The most immediate need of the sector and
for a fresh round of capital inflow for new
energy projects would be stable and predictable
investment policies and tax regimes. And
government must also be willing to reduce
barriers to entry that will open up opportunities for
development of untapped resources.
The economic crisis ushers in a renewed discipline
by companies and policy planners to have “more
careful phasing of reserve developments to focus
on high-value opportunities based on technical and
operational merits.” If an enlightened leadership
would provide that path today, chances are high
that future solutions will also effectively address
the next round of complex challenges that energy
and environment may pose in the long term.
Indeed, the importance of energy to future
economic development and the well-being of
the next generation cannot be sidetracked.
The challenge now lies on us to craft policy
responses that would ensure the development of
energy resources safely, economically and in an
environmentally-responsible manner so that future
generations can learn from the examples we have
set for them to follow or improve upon.
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
The Two-Headed Market for Oil, Energy
Intelligence Group, June 8, 2009.
Based on a DOE press statement, September
20, 2009.
Presentation of Tan Mohd Hassan Marican,
Petronas Chief Executive, Oil and Gas
Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 8,
Based on the DOE Accomplishment Report,
David Knapp, Energy Intelligence Group, New
York, 2009.
Dr. Canlas also served as former
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and
Director General of the National Economic and
Development Authority.
“Brownout” is a unique term used in the
Philippine power industry setting. This was
coined by Filipinos at the height of their
sufferings from rolling power outages during
the 1990s power crisis.
Aboitiz, L.M. (2009, September 9). Challenges
of Renewable Energy. Presentation at Powertech
Business Forum.
Arcansalin, N.P. (2009, September). Investment
Policies and Government Incentives for Renewable
Energy Projects. Presentation at Power Business
Department of Energy. (2009, September).
Accomplishment Report.
Knapp, D. (2009, June). Energy Intelligence
Research. Presentation at Asia Oil and Gas
Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Energy and Environment Panel, Congressional
Commission on Science, Technology and
Engineering (Viray, F.L., et al). (2009).
Philippine Energy and Environment: Research
and Development Report: Assessment and
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
(2009, July).World Oil Outlook Report.
Philippine Energy Plan (Updated) for Planning
Period 2007-2014
Philippine Institute of Petroleum. (2008.) Report on
Historical Oil Industry Demand.
PSALM. (2009, September). Report on NPC
Velasco, M.M., et al. (2009, February). Energy
Guidebook for the Philippine Media (rev. ed.).
WTRG Economics, Oil Price History and Economics
Crafting Energy Policies with Benefits
for the Future Generations
Economy, Environment and
Filipino Children*
By Dr. Cielito F. Habito
* This paper draws liberally from the author’s research “Economy and Environment in the
Philippines: Issues and Imperatives” prepared for the ERIA Sustainable Development
Project on Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Policies in East Asia, March 2009.
It is often said that the Philippines is a rich
country pretending to be poor. Blessed with
an exceptionally rich and vast array of natural
resources, the Philippines should be among the
most affluent countries in the world. But the
country, it seems, is yet another illustration of the
so-called “natural resource curse”1: the common
phenomenon whereby countries and regions with
an abundance of natural resources tend to have
worse development outcomes than those that are
less endowed.
A richly-endowed archipelagic country of around
7,100 islands, the Philippines arose out of a long
history of geological transformation that through
time yielded a unique assemblage of bio-physical
ecosystems teeming with biological and natural
Its 30 million hectares (300,000 square
kilometers) of land area, 70 percent of which were
forested just over a century ago, hosts an extremely
rich and diverse array of plant and animal species
that puts the country among the top mega-diversity
countries in the world. Similarly, its 36,289
kilometers of coastline and its abundant inland
waters endow it with an extremely rich array of
marine and freshwater resources acknowledged
to be among the richest and most diverse in the
The country reportedly possesses more than
50,000 documented plant and animal species,
more than 65 percent of which are found nowhere
else on Earth.2 Furthermore, more new species
are discovered in the country every year than in any
other country in the world.
The country’s mineral resources are similarly
among the richest in the world. It is considered to
be the fifth most mineral-endowed country in the
world in terms of minerals per unit land area.
While it does not have the substantial petroleum
resources of its Southeast Asian neighbors
Indonesia and Malaysia, it is the world’s second
largest producer of geothermal power, with its
available capacity of 1,900 megawatts supplying
16 percent of the country’s installed electric power
generation capacity. Sources of water are likewise
abundant, with potential water supplies well
beyond the country’s requirements.
With such abundance of natural wealth, the
Philippines possesses all the necessary basic
elements that should be able to support broadbased industrialization, self-sufficiency, and
But rather than harness its superior natural wealth
to fuel a dynamic and broad-based economic
development over the years, the country has
found its economy lagging behind those of most
of its neighbors for more than four decades. The
relative weakness of the Philippine economy
through the years has translated into weak human
development and environmental indicators as well.
While the economy found new dynamism in the
1990s amid aggressive reforms under President
Fidel V. Ramos, the Asian financial crisis of 199798 cut short what appeared at the time to be a
building momentum for growth and development.
Subsequent reversals in the quality of politics and
governance set the country back once again in its
efforts to keep in step with its dynamic East Asian
Now nearly a decade since the turn of the new
millennium, the country once more faces the
challenge of persistently narrow, shallow and
hollow economic growth,3 accompanied by
worsening poverty,4 continued degradation of
the environment, and depletion of the nation’s
natural resource base. Sustainable development,
it seems, remains a distant and elusive goal for
this country that would otherwise appear to be well
equipped to attain it.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Children and the youth make up the single most
important stakeholder group for sustainable
development. They are, after all, the successor
generation who will inherit the fruits, both good
and bad, of whatever actions are taken today in
the economic, social, political, environmental and
cultural realms. And amidst the current political,
economic and social challenges besetting the
country, commonly traced to deeply ingrained
flaws in Philippine society and the (adult) people
comprising it, children and youth are looked upon
for hope in a better Filipino nation in the next
generation. But unless the development path
taken today ensures that the economic, social and
environmental welfare of the successor generation
is properly considered, even that hope stands on
tenuous ground.
This paper examines the economy-environment
interaction in the Philippines and its implications
for sustainable development, in general, and the
welfare and future of Filipino children, in particular.
The next section reviews the environmental
consequences of the country’s economic growth
experience. Priority policy issues and thrusts
to achieve proper balance among the social,
economic and environmental dimensions of
development in the country are then highlighted.
The paper then describes institutional and other
implementation issues that must be dealt with to
ensure proper translation of the priority policies
and measures into action and achieve their
desired impacts. This includes a discussion on the
critical role of children in the quest for sustainable
development in the Philippine context. The paper
ends with a summary and directions for future
The Track Record: Economy
Impinging on Environment
The World Bank’s 2004 Philippine Environmental
Monitor (PEM 2004) described the Philippine
economy as one that “remains acutely dependent
on natural resources.” The resource-based
industries composed of agriculture, fishery, forestry
and minerals currently employ some 13 million
people and are a substantial contributor to national
gross domestic product.
While these primary sectors account for about 20
percent of the value of the nation’s output, their
share in total employment is much larger, at 37
percent. This implies that labor productivity in
these primary sectors is low relative to the other
major sectors. A direct consequence of this is
a much higher incidence of poverty in the rural
areas, which account for about 70 percent of all
poor Filipinos. In turn, this translates to higher
incidence of health and education problems among
rural children.
Over the past two decades, and especially in the
1990s, the government undertook aggressive
reforms in the form of liberalized trade and
investment policies, privatization, and deregulation
of key industries including the oil, banking and
finance, telecommunications, domestic air
transport, and shipping industries.
Economic progress attained in this period,
especially in the 1990s, is largely attributed to
such competitiveness-enhancing policies and the
increased participation of the private sector in
the development process, all aimed at building
inherent strength in the Philippine economy,
as espoused in the Medium-Term Philippine
Development Plan. However, Philippine Agenda
21 (PA21),5 the long-term planning document
embodying the country’s national sustainable
development strategy, observed that
....While there is an acceleration in
economic growth, there is evidence that
environmental quality is fast deteriorating,
as dramatized by the increased incidence of
environmental disasters such as problems
associated with mine tailings, deforestation,
pollution, salt-water intrusion and a host of
other destructive activities. The regenerative
capacities of already fragmented areas in
various bio-geographic zones are similarly
The problem with environmental degradation
that has accompanied the economy’s growth lies
in its close interlinkage with what remains the
country’s paramount challenge: that of widespread
poverty. Based on the 2006 Family Income and
Expenditures Survey, one in every three Filipinos
(33%) is poor, and 70 percent of the poor live in the
rural areas. PA21 continues:
The harm from environmental degradation
invariably falls more heavily on the poor.
At the same time, poverty drives people
into environmentally degrading economic
activities, as in the uplands, the coastal
fisheries, or small-scale mining. The povertyenvironment nexus is thus a critical front
in the pursuit of sustainable development,
making poverty reduction a critical concern
in the country’s sustainable development
Thus, the pattern of economic growth over the
years has dealt the country’s poor a double blow:
narrow, shallow and hollow growth has benefited
them little and has left them farther behind; at
the same time, the harm from the attendant
environmental degradation has fallen more heavily
on them as well.
Environmental concerns arising from the country’s
economic development experience may be grouped
into green (biodiversity and forestry-related),
blue (coastal and marine resources-related), and
brown (solid waste, air and water quality, and
mining-related) environmental concerns. Each is
discussed in turn below.6
The Green Environment:
Vanishing Forests
Forest Depletion
The Philippines’ forest cover is estimated to
have declined from 21 million hectares (or 70%
of its total land area) in 1900 to just around 7.2
million hectares (24%) as of 2005, with less than
a million hectares left in primary forests. On the
other hand, biologists estimate that forests must
comprise more than half the land area of the
Philippine archipelago for the interrelationships of
ecosystems to be sustainable.
With such rapid pace of forest depletion in just
over a hundred years, per capita forest cover in the
Philippines is now the lowest in Asia (World Bank,
2004), with the remaining primary or intact forests
continuously under threat. All this has resulted
from land conversions, swidden (slash-and-burn)
farming, and illegal logging, apart from destruction
due to forest fires and natural causes such as pest
infestations and typhoons. Between 1990 and
2005 alone, an estimated 3.2 million hectares of
forest cover was lost, and it is estimated that the
country continues to lose its forests at the rate of
157,400 hectares or two percent per year.7
In the early 1960s, the timber industry was the
country’s largest foreign exchange earner. From
being the world’s biggest exporter of tropical
hardwoods in the 1970s, the Philippines had
turned into a net importer of forest products by
the 1990s. It is estimated that the country now
imports 60 percent of its wood requirements. At
the height of commercial logging operations in
the country, there were 420 logging firms which
had been given licenses to extract timber from
the majority of the forested areas. As a result
of unsustainable management and massive
deforestation, estimated to have peaked at
300,000 hectares per year in the late 1960s, the
industry began to decline in the 1980s. Forestry
now accounts for less than one percent of GDP.
Figure 1 is a visual depiction of the dramatic
depletion of the country’s forest cover through the
past century, from 70 percent cover in 1900 to 24
percent as of 2005.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Figure 1. Philippine Forest Cover, 1900 & 2005
Biodiversity Loss
The Philippines is one of the world’s 18 “megadiversity” countries, which together account for
60 to 70 percent of global biodiversity. It has
also been identified by the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a biodiversity
“hotspot” – that is, a country where biodiversity
is subject to extreme threat from deforestation,
conversion, fragmentation of natural habitats,
unregulated trade, and overall low environmental
Animal diversity is very rich in the country, with over
1,000 species of non-fish vertebrates identified, 48
percent of which are endemic to the country. For
mammal species, 64 percent are endemic, while
70 percent are endemic for reptiles, 75 percent
of amphibians, and 44 percent of birds. Nearly
200 vertebrate species are now threatened by
extinction. Endemic species such as the Cebu
flower pecker, the golden-crowned flying fox, the
Philippine cockatoo, the Negros forest frog, and the
Philippine eagle are barely surviving in remaining
small patches of forest.
Forest destruction has been the single biggest
threat to biodiversity in the Philippines. Hunting for
trade, trophy or meat, especially of birds, is a major
threat to the country’s animal biodiversity. Still
another threat is the reckless introduction of exotic
alien species to the islands. The risks associated
with biotic invasions have increased enormously
in the past 40 years. Among the most damaging
invasive alien species in the Philippines have been
the giant catfish, black bass, golden snail, toads
including the marine toad, and American bullfrog.
Aquatic plants like the water hyacinth and water
fern have also had a significant adverse impact on
wetland biodiversity.
The Blue Environment: Depleting
Water comprises more than four-fifths of Philippine
territory, based on the 200-nautical-mile exclusive
economic zone covering some 2.2 million square
kilometers defined by the government in 1976. The
Philippine archipelago lies in the “coral triangle,”
the center of the most diverse habitat in the marine
tropics. Philippine coral reefs comprise about 26
percent of the total reef area in Southeast Asia
and are recognized to be among the richest and
most diverse in the world, with about 464 species
of hard corals and more than 50 species of soft
corals identified.
However, over 30 percent of the coral reefs in the
country are considered to be in poor condition.
Moreover, there has been a steady decline in the
quality of the coral reefs, with only a tiny 0.24
percent reported to be in excellent condition in
2004, against 4.3 percent in 2000 and 5.3 percent
in 1991. Ninety-eight percent of these reefs are
under medium or high threat.8
An estimated 60 percent of the Filipino population
of 89 million live within the 832 municipalities
lying along the archipelago’s 36,289 kilometers of
coastline. Coastal fishing activities account for an
estimated 40-60 percent of total fish catch, with
the fisheries sector accounting for 4.3 percent
of GDP. Exports of fishery products amounted to
PhP26 billion in 2002, with the top commodity
exports being tuna, shrimp, and seaweed.
The Philippines is also the largest producer of
aquaculture products in Southeast Asia, dominated
by seaweed production. In 2002, a total production
of 3.4 million tons of seafood was recorded, with
an average annual rate of production increase of
2.5 percent between 1990 and 2002. The fishing
industry provides employment to about one million
people (3.3% of the country’s labor force), of which
68 percent is accounted for by the municipal
fishing sector, 26 percent by aquaculture, and the
remaining 6 percent by commercial fishing.
Apart from fish and seafood, coral reefs, mangrove
forests, and sea grass beds contribute to the
richness, diversity and productivity of coastal and
marine resources. These resources also attract
tourists, creating local business opportunities
and thereby generating further income and
The country’s rich endowment of some of the
world’s most unique marine ecosystems has been
increasingly threatened by overfishing, pollution,
and other human economic activities. Rapid
population growth especially in coastal communities has put strong pressure on the country’s
coastal fisheries. The average annual fish catch
exceeds 2 million metric tons, with nearly half
made by municipal and subsistence fishers who
operate small boats in shallow coastal waters.
While municipal fisheries dominated the sector in
the early 1980s, contributing more than half the
national output, its share had gone down to 30
percent by the 1990s. Furthermore, there was an
observed slowdown in growth of total production
of commercial fisheries, suggesting resource
limitations in fish capture and threats on its longterm sustainability. There has been clear evidence
that overfishing is occurring in important fishery
areas of the country, manifested in increasing
effort required per kilogram of fish catch (see
Figure 2). This decline of fishery resources in the
country appears to be the combined effect of
excessive fishing effort, inappropriate exploitation
patterns, and coastal environmental degradation.
There has also been massive loss of coastal
mangrove forests over the years. Conversion to
fishponds, charcoal-making and overharvesting
has historically been the cause of the dramatic
loss of the primary mangroves in the Philippines.
The most rapid decrease occurred during the
1960s and 1970s when the aquaculture industry
expanded rapidly in response to strong market
demand and supportive government policies.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Figure 2. Declining Fish Catch in the Philippines,
Sources: Dalzell et al (1987) and NSO (2000), cited in http://www.oneocean.
As of 2004, fishponds were estimated to cover
about 289,000 hectares, 80 to 90 percent
of which were in areas formerly covered with
mangroves. This expansion occurred largely during
a period when real prices for fish and shrimp were
steadily rising. Between 1980 and 1988, the rate
of conversion was still about 8,200 hectares/per
year, in spite of a 1980 government ban on further
conversion of mangroves to fishponds, and rules
mandating the reversion of idle fishponds back to
mangroves. Besides fishpond conversions, illegal
cutting of mangroves for fuel wood, charcoalmaking, and construction have also been major
causes of the loss of mangrove forests.
The vast majority (95%) of the remaining
mangroves in the country are secondary growth
areas. Only five percent are old or primary
mangroves, and these are mostly found in the
island of Palawan. While there now exists an
official policy for mangrove protection, cutting of
mangroves remains rampant all over the country.
The Brown Environment: Degraded
Soil, Water and Air
Emissions into the atmosphere by both mobile
(motor vehicles) and stationary (factories, power
plants) sources have rendered the atmosphere
hazardous to health in urban centers, especially
Metro Manila, apart from contributing to the
worsening climate change problem. Lack of public
facilities for both solid waste and wastewater
disposal amid growing urban populations has
led to pollution and contamination of waterways
and groundwater, again to the detriment of public
health. Many years of intensive monoculture
farming have degraded the quality of the soil in
agricultural areas, and massive amounts of topsoil
are lost yearly due to erosion from flooding brought
by frequent natural disasters and exacerbated
by deforestation and destruction of the nation’s
Alongside industrialization, the mining industry
grew rapidly in the 1970s with active government
efforts to promote the industry. After declining
in the mid-1980s with falling world metal prices,
the industry is again being promoted by the
government as a major potential source of wealth
for the economy in the years ahead. However,
there is strong resistance to the policy from
oppositors who see mining as a major source of
environmental and social problems.
Solid Waste Management and Water Pollution
Solid waste has emerged to be one of the most
pressing environmental challenges in the country
today. Urban-dwelling Filipinos are estimated to
generate an average of 0.5 kg of waste per capita/
day, while their rural counterparts generate 0.3
kg.9 Metro Manila alone generates one quarter of
the total garbage generated annually nationwide.
A recent study by the Asian Development Bank
estimated that 6,700 MT of waste is generated
daily in Metro Manila alone, and annual waste
generation is expected to grow 40 percent by 2010.
Metro Manila’s garbage is currently disposed of
in six controlled dumps. However, these sites are
expected to reach their capacity within two years.
The 1998 National Demographic and Health
Survey reported that only 30 percent of Philippine
households had access to solid waste collection
services at varying frequencies, ranging from twice
a week to once every two weeks. More recently, the
National Solid Waste Management Commission
estimated collection efficiency at 70 percent and
40 percent in urban and rural areas, respectively.
Where residents lack access to solid waste
collection, garbage continues to be disposed of
indiscriminately or burned. The most common
disposal methods are open dumping, burning and
throwing into rivers. It is estimated that 145 million
liters of used oil is being dumped into rivers yearly.
In 2007, the Marilao River in Bulacan – which is
among the sources of drinking and agricultural
water supplies for around 250,000 people – was
identified by the US-based Blacksmith Institute
be among the world’s 30 dirtiest rivers and worst
polluted places. Pollution of the river has resulted
from years of indiscriminate and continuous
waste dumping by tanneries, gold and precious
metal refineries, the largest lead smelter in the
Philippines, and numerous municipal dumpsites.
Similarly, Laguna de Bay, one of Southeast Asia’s
largest freshwater lakes, is projected to become
biologically dead within a few years unless rampant
pollution due to domestic and industrial waste is
arrested. The lake produces about a third of Metro
Manila’s supply of milkfish and other edible fish,
helps generate electricity, and serves as a key
transport route.
Another major reason for degradation of water
quality in urban areas has been the indiscriminate
disposal of domestic wastewater. Only one percent
of the country’s total population is connected
to sewer systems (Table 1). Sewerage services
outside Metro Manila are almost non-existent,
leaving the non-Manila-based urban poor with
no access to sewerage services. The common
method of household sewage disposal has been
through individual septic tanks, where seepage
to groundwater sources is common and collected
sludge often is indiscriminately disposed of in
The World Bank estimates the total annual
economic loss resulting from water pollution at
PhP67 billion (US$1.3 billion). Included here are
PhP3 billion for health costs, PhP17 billion for lost
fisheries production, and PhP47 for lost tourism
Table 1: Sewage Disposal in the Philippines
Access to Sanitation Services (%)
Population Sewerage On-site
Metro Manila
Other Urban
and Rural
Source: Robinson (2003)
Overall, waste generation is increasing rapidly
as consumption rises. Meanwhile, collection
efficiency is declining as service levels deteriorate
due to insufficient and inappropriate equipment
and inability to reach households or collection
stations. Improvements in recycling, collection,
and disposal have become critical imperatives as
garbage production continues to increase with
population growth and economic development.
Air Pollution
Air pollution is one of the major environmental
threats affecting public health in the Philippines.
Metro Manila has been ranked by the World
Health Organization (WHO) as one of the five
most air-polluted cities in the world. The problem
is also felt in most major cities in the country
where urbanization has resulted in more factories,
rising population density, and increasing vehicle
The largest contributors to air pollution are fossil
fuel combustion from industries and vehicle
exhaust. Exhaust emissions from buses, jeepneys,
utility vehicles, and trucks are estimated to be the
largest contributor to urban air pollution and are
also recognized carcinogens. Despite a significant
drop in ambient lead levels in the last few years
because of the phaseout of leaded gasoline, other
air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulphur
dioxides and total oxidants still tend to exceed
safety standards and remain a major concern.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
The health costs of particulate matter pollution in
the four cities of Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu, and
Baguio (representing 28.4% of the total urban
population) were estimated to reach more than
US$400 million in 2001. These costs account for
2.5 to 6.1 percent of per capita income in these
cities, equivalent to 0.6 percent of the country’s
GDP. If the rest of the country’s population is
assumed to be exposed to pollutant levels similar
to those in these four cities, a high annual estimate
for urban health cost for the country would amount
to over US$1.5 billion.10
The World Bank estimates that 6,000 Filipinos die
each year due to air pollution-related diseases.
Children are particularly vulnerable, with 20
percent of deaths among children under five years
old accounted for by air pollution. (See Figure 3)
Figure 3. Incidence of Diseases by Type,
and many firms have expressed interest in taking
part in tapping the nation’s mineral wealth. The
controversial Mining Act (R.A. 7942) enacted
by Congress in 1995 eased rules for foreign
participation in the industry. Meanwhile, smallscale miners, especially those mining for gold,
have traditionally operated in certain rich mining
grounds, often practicing unsafe and unsustainable
mining methods.
The environmental threats from mining include
risks of major spillage of mine tailings in the case
of medium- to large-scale mining operations, and
mercury pollution, soil erosion, sedimentation of
water bodies, and non-reclamation of land after
mine closure in the case of small artisanal mines.
It is estimated that some 131 million metric tons
of metallic mine waste and about 136 million
metric tons of mine tailings were generated in the
Philippines from 1990 to 1999. Table 2 lists the
various adverse environmental effects that can
arise from different mining processes.
Apart from environmental effects, mining is also
commonly associated in the Philippines with the
social problem of displacement of indigenous
peoples and upland settlers by commercial mining
Source of Data: Department of Health, National Epidemiology Center
Issues on Mining
The Philippines is naturally endowed with abundant
deposits of copper, chromium, gold, and nickel,
plus smaller deposits of cadmium, iron, lead,
manganese, mercury, molybdenum, and silver.
Other industrial minerals present in the country
include asbestos, gypsum, limestone, marble,
phosphate, salt, and sulphur. The Philippines
ranks third worldwide in abundance of gold
deposits (and second to South Africa in terms of
gold production), fourth in copper deposits (and
third in copper production), fifth in nickel deposits,
sixth in chromite deposits, and so on.
The richness of the country’s mineral resources
is well-known to the international mining industry,
Economy and the Environment:
Achieving Win-Win
Philippine Agenda 21: Broad Thrusts
The challenge facing the country lies in mitigating
the above-described problems in the green, blue
and brown environment contexts even while
attaining ample broad-based and sustained
economic growth in order to reduce widespread
poverty. This entails an economic strategy that
integrates sound environmental management with
sound economic management.
Philippine Agenda 21 (PA21) espouses a poverty
reduction agenda that seeks to create an enabling
economic environment for sustained, broad-based
and ecologically-sound growth that improves
employment, productivity and incomes and ensures
Table 2. Environmental Damage from Mining Processes
Excavation and ore removal
Potential Effects
Ore concentration
Smelting and refining
Destruction of plant and animal habitat, human settlement, and other surface features
(surface mining)
Land subsidence (underground mining)
Increased erosion; silting of lakes and streams
Waste generation (overburden)
Acid drainage (if ore or overburden contains sulphur compounds) and metal contamination of
lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater
Waste generation (tailings)
Organic chemical contamination (tailings often contain residues of chemicals used in
Acid drainage (if ore contains sulphur compounds) and metal contamination of lakes, rivers,
streams, and groundwater
Air pollution (sulphur dioxide, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and other toxic substances)
Waste generation (slag)
Source: Ibon Foundation (2006)
food security. In its recently-enhanced form, PA21
identifies five broad goals, namely: (1) poverty
reduction, (2) social equity, (3) empowerment and
good governance, (4) peace and solidarity, and (5)
ecological integrity.
resources and thwart imminent threats
to protected areas and other critical
environmental systems
harness the full potentials of science and
technology and indigenous knowledge
systems in achieving greater efficiency
in resource use while adopting the
precautionary principle in managing
environmental problems, and
propagate the view of environment as
a common heritage, intricately woven
into the fabric of the Filipino way of life,
culture and traditions.
To these ends, PA21 defines a broad strategy that
ensure the enforcement of or
compliance to domestic and international environmental laws through
collaborative efforts of government,
business and civil society
promote the wider adoption of
ecosystems and communities as
the basic units for natural resource
promote proper pricing and valuation of
resources through the wider application
of market-based regulatory instruments
expand availability of alternative
livelihood opportunities for sectors
that have traditionally relied on natural
resources for their economic survival
institute proactive measures to redress
the degraded state of many natural
PA21 lists various initiatives and reforms to pursue
the five broad goals listed above. It now integrates
the action agenda of government, civil society and
the private business sector, after explicit efforts
were made to incorporate the Business Agenda 21
prepared by the business community. Given the
hierarchy of sustainable development challenges
facing the nation, especially at this time of global
financial crisis and economic downturn, there is
need to define a focused set of priority concerns
and corresponding actions to address both shortterm and medium- to long-term objectives.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Priority Initiatives
Along with addressing the priority green, blue and
brown environmental challenges described above,
initiatives to mitigate and adapt to climate change
have also become urgent and critical and must
now form part of the national and local agendas for
sustainable development.
The following form part of the priority agenda over
the next five years and beyond:
Green Environment Initiatives
Apart from tighter enforcement of existing forestry
laws and proper pricing of forest resources, the
following are the imperatives:
Continued replication of communitybased forest management (CBFM)
schemes, which has been adopted as
the national strategy for reversing the
destruction of the Philippine’s remaining
natural forests.
Further expansion of reforestation
activities both by the public and private
business sectors, i.e., via government and
industrial plantations and private tree
Both have already shown positive results in past
years and are credited with the recorded increase
in forest cover from its lowest point in 1988, when
forest cover had been estimated at only 5.4 million
hectares or 18.3 percent of total land area, to the
current estimate of 7.2 million hectares (24%).
Blue Environment Initiatives
The Coastal Environment Program (CEP) of
the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), which integrates programs,
projects and initiatives related to or concerning
coastal environments, must be faithfully and
aggressively implemented. Its primary thrust
is promoting community-based management
and sustainable use of resources in the
country’s coastal areas by encouraging the use
of environment friendly technologies, providing
livelihood opportunities to coastal communities,
promoting equitable access to resources, and
building DENR capabilities in the management of
coastal areas.
In numerous occasions, citizens have expressed
the view that the most successful “blue” initiatives
are those that empower communities and their
respective local governments to enforce laws and
manage resources within their jurisdiction. There
is growing use of community-based management
in the establishment of marine sanctuaries. A key
element for success in such sanctuaries is effective
partnership among the local governments, local
business sector (including owners and operators of
beach resorts), and coastal communities.
Brown Environment Initiatives
There is need to strengthen the capabilities
and accountabilities of the local multi-sectoral
Solid Waste Management Boards established in
provinces and municipalities according to law. The
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic
Act No. 9003), passed by the Philippine Congress
in 2000, defines the roles of the different levels of
local government in the various aspects of solid
waste management. The law mandated the shift
to sanitary landfills by February 2004, but at the
end of 2004, there were only two operating in the
country. As of December 2004 there were only
125 controlled dumpsites and 866 open and noncontrolled dumpsites nationwide, representing only
about 65 percent of all municipalities.
A stronger and more active role for private sector
participation in the management of solid wastes
nationwide also needs to be promoted.
Climate Change Initiatives
With its extensive coastline, climate change
and global warming are critical issues for the
Philippines, which ratified the Kyoto Protocol in
2003. There has emerged widespread awareness
of the climate change threat in the country, whose
agriculture sector and food security are particularly
vulnerable to changing climate patterns.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change
(IACCC), chaired by the Secretary of Environment
and Natural Resources, was established in 1991
and is tasked to coordinate, develop and monitor
functions with respect to climate change-related
activities in the county. The country has also
been an active and early participant in the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) and established
the Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) to pioneer
emission reduction purchase transactions and to
support projects that generate high quality certified
emission reductions (CERs) suitable for registration
with the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCC).
CDM projects for which certified emission
reductions (CERs) have been traded include a
wind power generation project, sugarcane bagasse
co-generation projects, and commercial piggery
biogas power generation projects. An action plan
for climate change adaptation is under formulation
through the IACCC.
The Global Downturn: Challenge
and Opportunity
The current global financial crisis and economic
downturn poses the special challenge of ensuring
that short-term responses adopted to stabilize
economies in the short term will not undermine
longer-term sustainability. This challenge came
to the fore during the East Asian financial crisis of
1997-98, when immediate “fire-fighting” responses
by governments (including those prescribed by
multilateral financial institutions, especially the
International Monetary Fund) and by individual
firms tended to set aside environmental concerns.
On the part of governments, such shortsighted responses included postponement or
actual cancellation of budgetary allocations
for environmental concerns and easing of
environmental standards in the effort to stimulate
immediate economic activity.
environmental control equipment and, in the effort
to cut costs, not to operate even those already
in place. Such trade-offs that become more
acute in times of crisis make the task of planning
and defining an action agenda for sustainable
development more sensitive and difficult at this
There is, on the other hand, an opportunity that
the current economic downturn presents. A major
difference between the Asian financial crisis
episode and the current global downturn is the
opposing nature of fiscal policy prescriptions for
responding to the respective crises. Whereas
Asian governments were called upon to exercise
fiscal prudence and undertake spending cutbacks
in 1997-98,11 the unanimous call at this time is for
fiscal stimulus. This implies a substantial ramp-up
in government spending to provide the demand for
goods and services that is not forthcoming from
private consumers, export markets, and business
In this policy context, the “Global Green New
Deal” proposal of the United Nations offers an
opportunity for a win-win outcome for both the
economy and the environment. The task at hand is
to identify the most appropriate public investments
(“green public investments”) that would meet
both objectives of maximizing the multiplier effect
of government spending and attaining long-term
sustainability objectives.
Institutional and Implementation
For many years, it has been widely lamented
that the Philippines has no lack of sound
plans, programs, policies and laws, but it is in
enforcement and implementation where the failure
lies. Failure in enforcement and implementation
may be attributed to at least three weaknesses: (1)
law enforcement failures, (2) legal failures, and (3)
coordination failures.
On the part of individual firms, there was an
observed tendency to defer investments in
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Law Enforcement Failures
The most conspicuous case in point manifesting
the breakdown of environmental law enforcement
has been in the enforcement of the logging ban.
The government banned the export of unprocessed
hardwood logs in 1986, both to arrest the rapid
depletion of the nation’s forests and to stimulate
domestic processing of raw lumber into finished
products. In 1991 the government imposed a
selective logging ban.
In spite of these, illegal logging has persisted –
often attributed to powerful national and local
politicians – and massive cutting of trees in the
Sierra Madre and Cordillera forests in Luzon and in
forested areas in Mindanao continues to this day.12
An estimated 40 percent of the country’s industrial
roundwood comes from undocumented sources,
thwarting earnest management and conservation
A similar failure in law enforcement is seen in the
continued incursion of commercial fishing vessels
within the 15-kilometer zone reserved by the
Fisheries Code to small artisanal municipal fishers.
Still in fisheries, a perennial problem has also been
the persistence of illegal fishpens in both inland
and coastal fisheries. Again, the problem in many
cases is in powerful political or military interests
being either behind or directly responsible for the
incursions. Thus, the problem in enforcement of
laws protective of the environment commonly boils
down to rampant corruption in government.
Apart from corruption, lack of capacity or political
will has been another reason for violations of
the law on the part of local governments. The
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act mentioned
above had mandated that all municipalities should
have a sanitary landfill by February 2004. This
provision of the law has been widely and flagrantly
ignored, as only a minority of local governments
have so far complied with this requirement.
Still another example of unimplemented legislation
is the provision in the Local Government Code
of 1991 (R.A. 7160) for the establishment and
functioning of multi-stakeholder local development
councils at the provincial, municipal and barangay
(village) levels of local government. Most local
government units (LGUs) have not been faithful in
organizing these valuable forums for participatory
governance, with most LGUs not even having
established such councils, or where established,
not convening them in any regular or meaningful
Legal Failures
Some of the difficulties of past years stemmed
from inconsistencies and ambiguities in the laws
themselves. Among the most controversial laws
pertaining to the environment has been the 1995
Mining Act, whose constitutionality had been
questioned at, and later affirmed by, the Supreme
The other major problem has been the
inconsistency of certain provisions of the Mining
Act with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of
1997 (R.A. 8371), which recognizes and promotes
the rights of indigenous peoples to ancestral
domain and lands; their right to self-governance,
economic and social rights; and their cultural
integrity, including indigenous culture, traditions
and institutions. However, the Mining Act is being
invoked by investors and certain government
offices (including the Office of the President) in
allowing mining exploration and development
activities in areas that would otherwise be barred
from such by the IPRA.
Still another problem with legislation concerns the
Clean Air Act of 1999 (R.A. 8749), which among
other things stipulates a total ban on incineration,
thereby creating difficulties for the disposal of
certain types of hazardous wastes for which
incineration has been deemed to be the safest
mode of disposal available.
These instances have led to situations where
non-enforcement and non-implementation of
environment-related laws have been facilitated
by flaws or impractical provisions in the laws
Coordination Failures
Most of the environmental challenges confronting
the country require interagency, multi-sectoral
and multidisciplinary approaches and solutions.
While the Philippines has been at the forefront of
establishing multi-stakeholder coordinative and
consultative mechanisms to deal with sustainable
development and other governance concerns,
difficulties of coordination remain, especially
because government has always been organized
along distinct sectoral lines. Notwithstanding
this, overlapping and duplicating functions across
government departments and offices are common.
A fundamental obstacle to sustainable land and
natural resource use in the Philippines is its
inefficient and ineffective land use administration
system. As observed by the European Commission
Delegation in the Philippines, “There is a complex
situation of overlapping of agencies and laws.
There are also multiple standards for land
valuation, which offer ample opportunities for
corruption.”13 The country’s land administration
and management system is in dire need of an
overhaul, which would involve consolidation
of functions currently lying within several land
registration and administration agencies.
The Philippine Council for Sustainable Development
(PCSD), the first national council for sustainable
development established in the world after the
Rio Earth Summit in 1992, was established to
provide the venue for interagency, inter-sectoral
and multi-stakeholder coordination, consultation
and consensus-building. Chaired by the Secretary
of Socioeconomic Planning, who exercises an
oversight role in government in the implementation
of the country’s development plans, the PCSD’s
effectiveness has varied through its 16 years of
existence, primarily conditioned by the degree of
commitment to sustainable development and PCSD
by the top leadership, including the President and
the Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning.
While such commitment was strong under the
presidency of Fidel V. Ramos in the 1990s, the
same degree of support was unfortunately not
provided by his successors and their respective
planning secretaries, thereby rendering PCSD to
lose its former prominence. This has led many to
question the usefulness and efficacy of PCSD as a
forum for pursuing sustainable development goals
of the country at the present time.
From the above discussions, the picture that
emerges is one where the appropriate elements
of a strategy and action agenda for reconciling
economic and environmental objectives of
Philippine development are already in place.
The main barrier, however, to achieving desired
outcomes and impact is inadequacies in
institutions and mechanisms – and in the people
comprising them – for translating strategies,
policies and programs into concrete action.
Where Do Children Fit In?
Children of both the present and future are not just
the primary stakeholders and main beneficiaries
of sustainable development; they can also be
among the most effective instruments for its
achievement. It stands to reason that children
and youth should figure prominently in the work for
sustainable development, starting from planning
and on to execution and advocacy. The reality,
however, is that the welfare of children tends to
be given inadequate attention in the formulation
of development plans – let alone sustainable
development strategies – and in the design of
various programs and projects to translate plans
into action.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that children
were found by the National Statistical Coordination
Board (NSCB) to be among the three poorest
sectors in Philippine society in 2006.14 And
the reason for this is that children tend to be
overlooked as important participants in charting
their very futures. Adult planners may argue that
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
they were children themselves once upon a time,
and that they have a personal concern for the
children in their own families, enough to know
how to address the needs of children both in the
present and future.
In one relatively successful environment program
built on effective multi-stakeholder partnerships,
representation for children was deliberately
provided for in the provincial steering committees –
with the designated representative being an official
from the Department of Education.
It is easy to overlook the fact that the environment,
circumstances and trends within which the current
generation of children exists are vastly different
from that which adults today knew in their own
childhood years. Hence, adults today, no matter
how deeply concerned with the welfare of children,
can never validly presume to speak for them.
Mechanisms must thus be found to genuinely
and meaningfully involve children in sustainable
development planning, so that the plans that
emerge are truly responsive to the needs and
aspirations of the successor generation and those
still to come.
Beyond plan formulation, the way that children
tend to be involved in implementation of initiatives
falling out of plans likewise reveals a lack of
appreciation among adults of the significant and
potent role that children can play in the quest for
a sustainable future. Too often, children are seen
merely as contributing no more than physical effort
in community-level initiatives. Thus, a common
feature of community environmental projects
is to get schoolchildren out of their classrooms
and mobilize them to pick up trash and do
minor sprucing up of community facilities and
To limit them to such roles is to grossly
underestimate children’s potentials in effecting
change in society. It is said that children are the
best entry point to the minds and hearts of adults,
particularly of their parents and other adults within
their households. Thus, they are particularly critical
objects of advocacies for sustainability, as they
subsequently become effective exponents (“change
agents”) of such advocacies towards changing
attitudes of other children, but more especially of
adults around them.
Innovative child-driven advocacy initiatives such as
community environmental theaters have already
proven useful in many places. Children have also
proven to be effective in mass media campaigns
to “conscienticize” adults towards more ethical
and sustainable behavior. Finally, it is well worth
remembering that the leaders and key decisionmakers of tomorrow are among the children of
today; it is clear that deliberate investments must
be made today in properly equipping the successor
generation of leaders in Philippine society, politics
and governance.
Summary and Conclusions
Being a country that is among the most naturallyendowed in the world, the Philippines has fallen
victim to the commonly-observed “natural resource
curse,” with its abundant natural wealth seemingly
having become a liability rather than an instrument
for achieving prosperity.
Its mixed record of economic growth through past
decades has been marked by rapid degradation
of the environment and depletion of its natural
resource base. From an economy dominated
by primary resource-based production activities
up until the 1980s, it has transformed into one
primarily propelled by services, although the
primary industries in the rural sector continue to
provide a disproportionate share of employment for
the working population.
The abundant wealth in the country’s forests
was rapidly exploited and depleted in the past
century, most especially in recent decades until
the 1990s, when policies finally began to take
cognizance of the need to arrest the decline.
Population pressures and short-sighted human
economic activities have severely stressed the
country’s marine and freshwater resources, posing
serious threat on the country’s food security and
public health. Industrialization, urbanization, and
intensive agriculture over the past decades have
dramatically impaired the quality of the country’s
air, water, and soil, in most cases resulting in clear
and present danger to public health.
Economic activities have also contributed to the
global phenomenon of climate change which is
of particular importance to the country, whose
vulnerability to this global threat draws from its
archipelagic geography and more than 36,000
kilometers of coastline.
The strategy and corresponding action agenda
for reconciling the country’s economic, social and
environmental development goals is already well
laid out in Philippine Agenda 21, which has been
described as the most widely-consulted planning
document the country has had so far. Concrete
programs, initiatives and mechanisms are in place
for addressing the various green, blue and brown
environment issues confronting the country.
For maximum efficiency and effectiveness, there
is need to focus on approaches that promise
greatest success. Community-based approaches
have already demonstrated a positive track record,
particularly in the sustainable management of
forest and coastal resources. Mechanisms based
on multi-stakeholder partnerships have likewise
proven effective when allowed to function fully and
freely. The way forward, then, is to scale up and
scale out such tested mechanisms that work well
and to strengthen them with the necessary policy
and resource support.
Within government, the imperative is for
close teamwork and coordination, given the
multidimensional, inter-disciplinary and multisectoral nature of sustainable development
challenges. Thus, bodies such as the Inter-Agency
Committee on Climate Change, Local Solid Waste
Management Boards, and Local Development
Councils need to be made to function actively and
spearhead concrete initiatives to operationalize
sustainable development at the national, local and
community levels.
Good governance is the critical underlay that
provides the vital foundation for all efforts
to achieve sustainable development for the
country. Until the current persistent governance
weaknesses in the Philippines are overcome,
and law enforcement failures, legal failures
and coordination failures are transformed
from current realities into things of the past,
achievement of win-win outcomes for the economy
and the environment – and hence, sustainable
development – will remain a distant dream.
Finally, children and youth, apart from being the
primary stakeholders and main beneficiaries of
sustainable development, can also be among the
most effective instruments for its achievement. It
is important to make deliberate efforts to provide
genuine and meaningful involvement of children
in all aspects of sustainable development work,
spanning planning to execution and advocacy.
They are far more than mere contributors of
muscle power to help pick up trash and clean up
community facilities.
Much more importantly, they could be the most
effective agents for changing the minds and hearts
of other children, and more importantly, of adults
around them towards fundamental changes in
attitudes and behaviors. This, in the end, is the
first step required in changing the course of current
trends that are leading the country, and indeed the
world, into a path of unsustainability.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Based on information gathered by
Conservation International (CI).
See Habito (2005).
Latest official data report poverty incidence in
the country to have risen from 24.7 percent of
families in 2003 to 26.9 percent in 2006.
This observation has also been described as
the “paradox of plenty,” and is discussed by,
among others, Auty (1993) and Sachs and
Warner (1995).
Philippine Agenda 21 was officially
promulgated by the Philippine Council for
Sustainable Development (then chaired by
the author), on September 26, 1996, after
two years of wide consultation. It has recently
been updated, modified and enhanced into
what is now known as the Enhanced Philippine
Agenda 21.
The following sections draw liberally from
World Bank (2004), ECP (2005), PCSD (2006)
and Ibon Foundation (2006).
Data are estimates by Haribon and other
NGOs, as cited in World Bank (2004) and Ibon
Databank (2006). DENR estimates tend to be
Data in this and the succeeding paragraph are
based on data cited from various authors in
World Bank (2004).
Estimates by the National Solid Waste
Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (http://
In the active policy debates during the time,
it was argued by some even then that this
prescription was misplaced and outright
Annual confiscations have amounted to 12 to
15 thousand cubic meters yearly. However, the
level of confiscations is not a reliable indicator
of the real extent of illegal logging.
ECP (2005).
“Globalization fails to lift Pinoys out of
poverty,” Business Mirror, June 26-27, 2009,
p. A3.
Auty, R. M. (1993). Sustaining Development in
Mineral Economies: The Resource Curse Thesis.
London: Routledge.
Center for Environmental Concerns. (2008). In a
State of Chronic Crisis:
The Philippine Environmental Situation.
Dalzell, P., Corpuz, P., Ganaden, R., & Pauly, D.
(1987). Estimation of Maximum Sustainable Yield
and Maximum Economic Rent from the Philippine
Small Pelagic Fisheries. BFAR Tech Paper Series,
10(3), 23.
European Commission in the Philippines (ECP).
(2005, August). Country Environmental Profile.
Makati City.
Globalization fails to lift Pinoys out of poverty.
(2009, June 26-27). Business Mirror, p. A3.
Habito, C. (2005). The Philippines: The Continuing
Story of a Crisis-prone Economy. Southeast Asian
Affairs 2005. Singapore: Institute for Southeast
Asian Studies.
Ibon Foundation. (2006). The State of the
Philippine Environment (3rd ed.).
Philippine Council for Sustainable Development.
(2006). Revisiting Philip¬pine Agenda 21.
National Economic and Development Authority.
Robinson, A. (2003). Urban Sewerage and
Sanitation: Lessons Learned from Case Studies
in the Philippines. Based on a report prepared by
Robinson, with the Engineering and Development
Corporation of the Philippines, Urban Sewerage
and Sanitation: Final Report, April 2003. World
Bank Water and Sanitation Program, East Asia and
the Pacific in Partnership with the Government of
the Philippines and the Government of Australia.
Sachs, J.D., & Warner. A M. (1995). Natural
resource abun¬dance and economic growth. NBER
Working Paper 5398.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Impact on Public Governance
on the Rights of the Filipino Child
By Dr. Wilfrido V. Villacorta
Forecasting the political future of the Filipino
child by 2025 must take into consideration the
development of the nation’s political system and
political culture. In this paper, we shall present both
the positive and negative trends in child protection
in the Philippines.
1. Supportive Factors
1.1 Constitutional Framework
The principle of protection of children’s rights
as an obligation of the State is enshrined in
the fundamental law of the land. The present
Constitution of the Philippines, which was
overwhelmingly ratified by the people in a plebiscite
in 1987, directs the State to defend the “right of
children to assistance, including proper care and
nutrition, and special protection from all forms
of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other
conditions prejudicial to their development.”1
It antedated by two years the United Nations
Convention of the Rights of the Child and was the
first Constitution in the world to contain explicit
provisions on protection and assistance to children
and the right to education.
Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution addresses
the educational needs and rights of children. It
provides that “the State shall protect and promote
the right of all citizens to quality education at all
levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make
such education accessible to all.”2 The State is
mandated to: “establish and maintain a system of
free public education in the elementary and high
school levels”; “establish and maintain a system
of scholarship grants, student loan programs,
subsidies, and other incentives which shall be
available to deserving students in both public and
private schools, especially to the under-privileged”;
“encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous
learning systems, as well as self-learning,
independent, and out-of-school study programs
particularly those that respond to community
needs”; and “provide adult citizens, the disabled,
and out-of-school youth with training in civics,
vocational efficiency, and other skills.”3
Social and moral values in the education of
the child are highlighted in Section 3 of the
Constitution: “All educational institutions shall
include the study of the Constitution as part of the
curricula. . . (and) shall inculcate patriotism and
nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for
human rights, appreciation of the role of national
heroes in the historical development of the
country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship,
strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop
moral character and personal discipline, encourage
critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and
technological knowledge, and promote vocational
Recognizing that education had not been given
the priority that it deserves in the allocation of
government resources, the Constitution obliges the
State to “assign the highest budgetary priority to
education and ensure that teaching will attract and
retain its rightful share of the best available talents
through adequate remuneration and other means
of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”5
1.2 International Framework
Two years after the approval of the Philippine
Constitution, the United Nations General Assembly
adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC) in November 1989. The CRC is the first
international instrument to focus on the whole
spectrum of human rights—civil and political rights
as well as economic, social and cultural rights. It
provides the legal framework for basic human
rights that children everywhere have: the right to
survival, the right to develop to the fullest, the right
to protection from harmful influences, abuse and
exploitation, and the right to participate fully in
family, cultural and social life.6
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
defines “child” as a person under the age of 18
years and asserts that the child must develop
his or her full potential free from hunger and
want, neglect, abuse or exploitation. The CRC
underscores the right to education (Article 28) and
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
to participate fully in family, cultural and social
life. It provides that education shall be directed to
“the development of the child’s personality, talents
and mental and physical abilities to their fullest
potentials” (Article 29).
1.3 Rights-Based National Plan
Supplementing the Convention are the Optional
Protocols on the involvement of children in
armed conflict and on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography. These two
optional protocols strengthened the international
framework on the protection of children’s human
The Philippine National Strategic Framework for
Plan Development for Children (2000-2025),
popularly known as Child 21, recognizes the crucial
role of governance and political development in
safeguarding the welfare of the child. Articulated
in its vision is the view that “the nation’s primary
goal concerning children is to create an enabling
environment for children to grow and develop their
full potential at every stage of development.”9
The Convention on the Rights of the Child finds
support from the United Nations Millennium
Declaration. In September 2000, the 192 UN
member states committed themselves to
a new global partnership aimed at reducing
extreme poverty by 2015. The following year, the
development agenda was operationalized as the
eight Millennium Development Goals— a set of
time-bound and measurable targets addressing
poverty, hunger, child mortality, disease,
environmental degradation and discrimination
against women. In achieving the Millennium
Development Goals, the special conditions and
needs of State Parties are considered.7
Former UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy
called on world leaders to put children at the heart
of their Millennium Development Goals agenda and
to place children’s rights at the forefront of longterm social and economic development thinking.
She said that if the world was to eradicate extreme
poverty and eliminate hunger, children now being
born must get what previous generations of
marginalized children have not gotten: a healthy
start in life; quality basic education; and a safe and
loving environment in which to thrive.
Director Bellamy emphasized that “if children’s
rights to education, to protection and to survival
and health are not fully realized, the world will not
be on track to meet the goals. True development
progress hinges on children.”8
In January 1990, the Philippines was one of
the first UN member-states to sign the CRC. The
Philippine Senate ratified it in August 1990.
This priority given to creating an enabling
environment for children is consistent with Article
Three of the CRC which states, “In all actions
concerning children, whether undertaken by public
or private social welfare institutions, courts of law,
administrative authorities or legislative bodies,
the best interests of the child shall be a primary
consideration (Sec. 1).” The CRC also mandates
that “State Parties undertake to ensure the child
such protection and care as is necessary for his
or her well-being, taking into account the rights
and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians,
or other individuals legally responsible for him or
her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate
legislative and administrative measures” (Sec. 2).
Article Four directs State Parties to “undertake all
appropriate legislative, administrative, and other
measures for the implementation of the rights
recognized in the present Convention” (Sec. 4).
A crucial strategy for achieving a child-friendly
society is a paradigm shift to put children first in
the use of resources of the family, community and
the State.10 Child 21 underscores the importance
of institutional transformations that include “an
educational system responsive to the learning
needs of children,” “a health care system including
health insurance to be responsive to the unique
health needs of children at every stage of the life
cycle,” “a justice system sensitive to the conditions
of the child at every stage of the juvenile justice
system,” and “a legislative system that puts
children first and promotes and protects child
The national government is expectedly the most
prominent key player in implementing Child 21
strategies.12 Its tasks are the following:
Forge international cooperation in
monitoring and eliminating threats to
child rights, especially child trafficking,
sexual exploitation of children and child
Provide safety nets for children especially
those in need of special protection and
those in especially difficult circumstances
Pursue peaceful resolution to armed
Prioritize budget for and funds allocation
to programs that promote child rights
Promote international exchanges among
children and groups working with children
to enrich the children’s agenda
Conduct further research and
development on the situation of children.
Reaching his/her full potential with
the right opportunities and accessible
Imbued with Filipino values steeped in
his/her indigenous cultural heritage;
Assertive of his/her rights as well as
those of others; and
Actively participating in decision making
and governance, in harmony and in
solidarity with others, in sustaining the
Filipino nation.
1.4 Legislation on the Rights of the Child
The fruition of Child 21’s objectives depends
largely on the enabling laws that are passed by the
Philippine Congress.
The first law that promotes children’s rights is the
Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree
No. 603), which was promulgated on 10 December
1974.13 It enumerates the Rights of the Child to
which “all children shall be entitled to the rights
herein set forth without distinction as to legitimacy
or illegitimacy, sex, social status, religion, political
antecedents, and other factors”:
Every child is endowed with the dignity
and worth of a human being from the
moment of his conception, as generally
accepted in medical parlance, and has,
therefore, the right to be born well.
Every child has the right to a wholesome
family life that will provide him with love,
care and understanding, guidance and
counseling, and moral and material
Every child has the right to a well-rounded
development of his personality to the end
that he may become a happy, useful and
active member of society.
Every child has the right to a balanced
diet, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter,
The rights-based strategy of Child 21 has set the
following goals that the Filipino child must have
attained by 2025:
Born healthy and well with an inherent
right to life, endowed with human dignity;
Happy, loved and nurtured by a strong,
stable and God-loving family;
Living in a peaceful, progressive, genderfair and child-friendly society;
Growing safe in a healthy environment
and ecology;
Free and protected by a responsible and
enabling government;
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
faith in democracy and inspire him with
the morality of the constituted authorities
both in their public and private lives.
proper medical attention, and all the
basic physical requirements of a healthy
and vigorous life.
Every child has the right to be brought
up in an atmosphere of morality and
rectitude for the enrichment and the
strengthening of his character.
Every child has the right to an education
commensurate with his abilities and
to the development of his skills for the
improvement of his capacity for service to
himself and to his fellowmen.
Every child has the right to full
opportunities for safe and wholesome
recreation and activities, individual as
well as social, for the wholesome use of
his leisure hours.
Every child has the right to protection
against exploitation, improper influences,
hazards, and other conditions or
circumstances prejudicial to his physical,
mental, emotional, social and moral
Every child has the right to live in a
community and a society that can
offer him an environment free from
pernicious influences and conducive
to the promotion of his health and the
cultivation of his desirable traits and
10. Every child has the right to the care,
assistance, and protection of the State,
particularly when his parents or guardians
fail or are unable to provide him with
his fundamental needs for growth,
development, and improvement.
11. Every child has the right to an efficient and
honest government that will deepen his
Every child has the right to grow up as
a free individual, in an atmosphere of
peace, understanding, tolerance, and
universal brotherhood, and with the
determination to contribute his share in
the building of a better world.
Thirteen years later, the Philippine Congress was
reinstated by the post-Marcos Constitution. It
passed legislation which complemented the Code
and complied with the new Constitution’s mandate
on the rights and welfare of children. Republic Act
6655, which provided for free public secondary
education, was passed on 20 May, 1988. Republic
Act 6972, which instituted a program for the total
development and protection of children, was
signed into law in November 1990. Republic Act
7610, “An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence
and Special Protection Against Child Abuse,
Exploitation and Discrimination,” was passed in
June 1992. Republic Act 7658, “An Act Prohibiting
the Employment of Children Below 15 Years of Age
in Public and Private Undertakings,” was approved
in October 1993. It amended Article VII of Republic
Act 7610.
Other significant legislation include Republic Act
8980 (National System for Early Childhood Care
and Development, 5 December 2000); Republic
Act 9231 (Elimination of Worst Forms of Child
Labor, 19 December 2003); Republic Act 9208
(Anti-Trafficking in Persons Especially Women
and Children, 6 May 2003); Republic Act 9262
(Defining Violence Against Women and Their
Children and Providing Protective Measures for
Victims, 8 March 2004); and Republic Act. 9344
(Comprehensive Juvenile Justice and Welfare
System, 28 April 2006).14
2. Challenges and Constraints
2.1. Misgovernance
We know, however, that more essential than
UN and constitutional declarations, national
development plans and legislation are legal
enforcement and compliance by the State. The full
protection of children’s rights remains an aspiration
for as long as we face the following challenges:
The Philippine political and justice
systems are plagued with corruption.
Because of the lack in good governance,
nearly half of the population are below
the poverty line and are deprived of basic
health services and quality education.
Weakness in governance has led to
increased drugs trade and human
trafficking which have victimized children,
who are the most vulnerable sector of the
Inadequate job opportunities have driven
thousands of Filipinos to work abroad,
resulting in physical separation of families
and dysfunctional rearing of the children
of most migrant workers.
The educational system and mass media
have been wanting in their duty to instill
moral and social values among the youth.
Governance plays a key role in safeguarding the
well-being of children and in preparing them to
face the challenges of the 21st century. The poor
performance of the Philippines is due to its being a
weak state and a weak market. The Philippines has
been rated by the World Bank as the most corrupt
among the leading economies in East Asia.15
Transparency International included the Philippines
in the top quintile (more than 32 percent) of
countries perceived to be most affected by
bribery, along with Albania, Cambodia, Cameroon,
Macedonia, Kosovo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania
and Senegal.16
The Philippine model of misgovernance which
has been perpetuated since the early years
of independence has the following counterprogressive characteristics:
Wealth control and accumulation
dominated by the political and economic
Political power and electoral success
monopolized by political dynasties;
Politicized bureaucracy and military;
Quality education limited to a few
educational institutions to which a small
minority of the population has access;
Political vulnerability of the poor who
suffer from social marginalization.
Misgovernance and corruption exacerbate poverty,
and it is the poor children who are the primary
victims of the consequences of massive poverty:
malnutrition, disease and substandard education.
2.2 Cycle of Malnutrition and Inequity
Scientific studies have shown that severe
malnutrition is linked to more than half of child
deaths, poor cognitive development and low
productivity.17 The Council for the Welfare of
Children reminds us that malnutrition is not only
the effect of inequity but also among the factors
that give rise to conditions that create inequities.18
According to the 2005 survey of the Food and
Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of
Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), about 24.6
percent of children 0-5 years old (numbering 3.2
million) were underweight-for-age, 2.1 percent (3.5
million) were stunted, and 4.8 percent (0.6 million)
were wasted or thin for their height.19
For the 6-10 years old, under-nutrition affected
about 22.8 percent of those underweight-for-age
(translated to 2.5 million children) and 32 percent
of those stunted for growth (3.5 million).20
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
For adolescents, approximately 16 percent of 1119 years old were reported to be underweight, with
the prevalence among the pre-teens (11-12 years
old) being higher than that for the 13-19 years age
group. More males were affected than females,
almost at a 1:2 ratio—for every underweight female,
there would be two underweight males.21
There is also a dearth of highly competent
teachers. Lacking in books and other learning
materials, the students depend on their teachers
as the primary source of learning. The inadequate
preparation of teachers is evident in the teachers’
dismal performance in the Professional Board
Exam for Teachers.24
Based on the results of the 2003 national nutrition
survey, the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency
disorders among infants is 47 percent, and among
children, 40.1 percent – higher than among
pregnant (17.5 percent) and lactating women (20.1
2.4 Vulnerability to Crime
Even more serious is anemia prevalence, which
was the highest among infants 6-11 months old
at 66.2 percent and among one-year-old children
at about 53 percent. It remains as the worst
nutritional problem among pregnant (43.9%) and
lactating (42.2%) women.
Malnutrition has a direct impact on academic
performance. The 2000 Philippine Human
Development Report described the poor results of
the nationally-administered National Elementary
Achievement Test and National Secondary
Achievement Test. These two tests showed that
students gave correct answers to less than 50
percent of the questions. The Philippines also
performed poorly in the Third International
Mathematics and Science Test, ranking second
from the bottom in the mathematics category and
third from the bottom in the science category.23
2.3 Schools and Underdevelopment
The Philippine Human Development Report
attributes the quality deficit primarily to the
inadequate budget for education. As of 1997,
the national education budget was only about
four percent of the Gross National Product, and
expenditure per pupil in 1996 was P1396 (1985
prices). The pattern of spending in schools was
skewed in favor of personnel services (salaries and
other forms of compensation) at the expense of
capital outlays as well as maintenance and other
operating expenses, such as textbooks, library and
laboratory supplies.
Poor children are easy targets of exploitation by
criminal elements, such as drug and prostitution
syndicates.25 It is estimated by NGOs that about
60,000 – 100,000 children are trafficked annually,
and some quarters claim that trafficking cases are
Poverty brought about by misgovernance has driven
thousands of Filipinos to find employment abroad.
With migrant workers’ separation from their
families, their children become the main casualties
because of dysfunctional upbringing that they have
to endure. There are so many cases of marriage
breakup resulting from the physical separation
of migrant workers from their spouses, as well as
abuse and neglect of children.
In her paper, “Women and Children as Victims of
Crime,” Assistant Secretary of the Department of
Social Welfare and Development Lourdes Balanon
observes that the burden on the Filipino family to
respond to the increasing needs of its members
has curbed its nurturing role to its members.
“Women are constrained to work in rural areas
or abroad, leaving their families behind. This
situation leads to lack of supervision of children,
making them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Children, at times, are left to fend for themselves
or they too have to work in the streets, factories or
establishments, exposing them to hazardous and
exploitative working conditions.”27
She concedes that despite the passage of laws
meant to protect children’s rights and welfare,
enforcement of existing laws is wanting and
needs improvement. She also believes that more
attention should be given to the healing, recovery
and reintegration of victims/survivors upon return
to their own families and communities. There are
only three therapy centers or residential facilities
for women and children, which implement a
comprehensive program to prepare for their return
to the community and to remove stigmatization of
the victims.
Balanon calls for a comprehensive, integrated
and holistic approach to combat trafficking and
other crimes committed against women from the
community level up to the regional/international
level. She also emphasizes the need to make the
criminal justice system gender-fair and sensitive
and child-friendly to ensure that the women and
children victims of abuse and exploitation are
treated with dignity and to prevent revictimization.
UNICEF notes that since the 1970s, child
pornography experienced a boom, particularly in
the United States where an estimated 300,000 to
600,000 children under 16 were fielded as models.
Pornographers moved their operations to countries
with lax laws such as the Philippines when strict
laws were established in the US and Western
Today, the advent of the Internet and digital
cameras has made child pornography even
more pervasive, while making it more difficult for
authorities to track the growing number of both
pornographers and their victims.
The Department of Social Welfare and
Development reports that anywhere between
60,000 to 600,000 street children are victims of
child prostitution. In fact, the Philippines ranks
fourth among countries with the most number of
prostituted children. A study by the Psychological
Trauma Program of the University of the Philippines
notes that prostitution may now be the country’s
fourth largest source of GNP. While some data on
child prostitution are available, they do not reflect
the even larger number of children being victimized
through child pornography.
2.5 Deterioration in Moral Values
Growing neglect by parents and the State could
have been balanced by the positive influence of
schools and the mass media. Unfortunately, these
two institutions have not fully lived up to their
responsibility to impart moral and social values. Dr.
Maria Lourdes Carandang warns against the role
of media in reinforcing a culture of violence. “The
bombardment of violence by media is sometimes
justified as mirroring the realities around us. But
continuous exposure to violence in the raw, without
any commentary or educational component, can
inadvertently glamorize violence. It would be
better if showings of violent events have been
accompanied by lessons learned. But this step still
needs to be done.”29
Moreover, local customs and traditions that we
would like to preserve in the consciousness of
our youths will continue to erode as unfettered
globalization exposes them to role models who
project examples of greed and materialism.
3. Consequences of the
Deteriorating Situation of
the Filipino Child
One needs only to walk through poor urban and
rural communities throughout the country to be
appalled by the squalid and wretched condition
suffered by hapless children. In 2005, the People’s
Recovery, Empowerment and Development
Assistance (PREDA) Foundation—which was twice
nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 and
2003—submitted a report on the implementation
of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the
Philippines to the Committee on the Rights of Child
in its 38th Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The
following were some of its findings:30
“The laws in the Philippines against
commercial sexual exploitation of
children, child prostitution, child sex
tourism and trafficking are multiple.
Regretfully, these kind of practices have
been too often observed and are clearly
in contravention with the prescribed
Philippine law and Article 34 of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
“There is also the reverse flow - the
out-migration of under-aged youth for
the purpose of prostitution abroad.
State policies and programs and the
international demand for cheap labor
abroad have also facilitated the massive
migration of women, even young girls, for
work overseas. Government policies favor
the export of entertainers and domestic
helpers that put the lives of children and
young women at risk.”
“Although more stringent laws against
trafficking have been passed in 2003,
notably the already discussed Republic
Act No.9208, implementation of these
laws have been weak so far. No effective
prosecution of traffickers takes place due
to corruption, weak judiciary and absence
of enforcement of legislation.”
“Of the reported 1.5 million street
children in the Philippines, 60,000 are
prostituted. This makes the Philippines
the fourth in nine countries with the most
number of children in prostitution. Based
on a report that 20% of the 50,000
prostituted women are minors, UNICEF
provides a higher estimate: that there are
100,000 girls in the country. The DSWD,
on the other hand, claims that the annual
average increase of prostituted children is
3,266. It also reported a more than 100%
increase in the case of sexually abused
and exploited children. Rape constituted
thirty-six percent (36%) of the reported
cases, while child prostitution and
paedophilia accounted for twelve percent
“Although there is ample legislation for
improving the Juvenile Justice System,
implementation has so far been wanting.
PREDA reported that “each day, 36 to
54 Filipino children -- including girls and
kids with mental disabilities -- are jailed
with adult prisoners everyday.” Its report
was based on statistics of the Public
Attorney’s Office which reported having
handled 13,300 cases involving children
in conflict with the law (36 kids per day) in
that year. The office of Philippine Senator
Francis Pangilinan also expressed
concern that 20,000 Filipino kids were
jailed (54 kids per day) in 2003.
These youths “languish and are jailed with adult
prisoners in cramped police jails where a number
of them get raped, tortured, and tattooed and
deprived of access to legal, medical, social, and
psychological assistance and services in an
institutionalized act of unlawful discrimination by
the Philippine government against the children of
the poorest of the poor.”
Unmitigated official corruption exacerbates poverty
and takes away scarce resources that otherwise
would have been used to improve the education,
health and living conditions of Filipino children.
A more recent study of global corruption was
conducted in 2008 by the Political and Economic
Risk Consultancy (PERC). The Philippines, Thailand,
Indonesia and China were rated by expatriates as
the most corrupt Asian economies, according to the
PERC poll results.31 In the Social Weather Stations
survey fielded in June 2009, the proportion of
families experiencing involuntary hunger at least
once in the past three months rose to 20.3 percent
or an estimated 3.7 million families, from 15.5
percent or an estimated 2.9 million families in
the previous quarter.32 Misgovernance persists in
warping the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of the Filipino youth.
4. Desired Scenarios for the Next
Despite the bleak situation that has been
described, there remain positive features in
Philippine society that could open opportunities for
the Filipino child:
The majority of the voting population are
Filipinos have positively responded to
advances in the New Media.
The global economic crisis can serve as
stimulus for social reform.
Vigilant civil society organizations abound
in the Philippines.
There is a large pool of talented and
dedicated Filipinos across sectors.
If properly informed and mobilized, our young
population would be more empowered to elect
leaders of integrity who will support child-friendly
policies and enforce these policies. The youth of
this country are more assertive and open-minded,
and value free expression and individual freedoms.
Already, a movement has been established to
mobilize the youth, who compose the majority
of the potential voting population, for the 2010
elections. This potential “youth power” can become
a reality only if the youth register and actually vote
in 2010.
But it is not just enfranchising the youth. They must
be made aware of the issues to be able to wisely
exercise their right of suffrage. They must not be
vulnerable to intimidation and vote-buying. The
Filipino youth must be informed of their rights as
well as the importance of strengthening democracy
in their country.
Dr. Julio Teehankee observes that there has been a
generational shift in the leadership structure in the
Philippines. In his study, “Generational Shift and
Elite Reproduction: Up-and-Coming Leaders in the
Philippines,” he notes that younger individuals have
been gradually taking higher positions in business
and politics: “While majority of them are scions of
the previous generation, the ongoing generational
shift provides an opportunity for incremental
change and reforms. Within the military, the young
junior officers have always been proponents of
reforms in the defense establishment. While
their agitations have oftentimes resulted in
military adventurism (e.g., Oakwood mutiny of
2003), a greater number of them choose to take
the constitutional path to initiate reforms from
Teehankee’s study profiled a total of 118 up-andcoming political, economic and military leaders
in the Philippines: 60 legislators from the House
of Representatives whose age ranges from 25
to 45; 20 young economic leaders who would
fall under the age bracket of 35 to 45; and 38
military leaders with the rank of Major or its Navy
equivalent, Lieutenant Commander, up to the rank
of Colonel or its Navy equivalent, Captain, whose
age ranges from 33 to 52.
Teehankee concludes that as societies undergo
internal differentiation, its elites become more
differentiated and specialized. Hence, traditional
elites are often transformed into strategic elites.
He stresses that a shift in generations is usually
accompanied by changes in outlook and the
functions, roles and skills performed by the next
generation of elites. This transformation, he
believes, may provide a narrow window for change
and reform in the political system.34
5. Unlocking Prospects of the
New Media
But it is not merely the generational shift in the
leadership structure and in the voting populations
that holds promise for the goals of Child 21. The
New Media bring in exciting prospects that would
unleash opportunities for greater self-expression
and creativity among the youth—a clear asset to
democracy and ultimately to the advancement of
the rights of the child.
The popularity of texting, instant messaging,
e-mails, social networking and blogging has
contributed to faster and wider communication
among the youth. Internet usage in the country
has reached 14 million or 16 percent of the
population, as of April 2007.35 The burgeoning
mobile telephone market in the Philippines—now
the texting capital of the world36— has attracted
significant investment in infrastructure in the
telecommunications sector.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Text messaging played a major role in mobilizing
people for the second People Power in January
2001. Further advances in networked electronic
communication will empower the youth and bring
about a dramatic political, cultural and intellectual
6. Reason to be Hopeful
Despite its flaws, our democracy is one of the most
vibrant in the world. Our civil society organizations
are active in upholding and monitoring the
implementation of human rights. Their international
linkages have enhanced their resources and their
ability to improve social conditions, including those
of the Filipino child.
We are still one of the Asian countries with the
highest literacy rate. The Philippines has an
enormous pool of talented citizens who, if given the
right opportunities, can contribute to our collective
social, political and economic advancement.
There remain principled and dedicated Filipinos in
government and military service, academe as well
as in the business and religious sectors who are
committed to defend the public interest and that of
the next generation. Once our predominantly young
population votes for better leaders and the country
moves forward, we can expect Filipinos who have
settled abroad to come back and devote their skills
and resources for the motherland’s rehabilitation.
Instead of giving up hope, the priority of older
generations should be to leave behind a politically
and economically empowered nation for the next
generations. It should be a Philippines where
citizens are not trained and destined to be migrant
workers but to be beneficiaries of an inclusive
globalization process where costs and benefits are
equitably shared.
Conclusions and
We have noted that there are facilitating factors
that support the cause of children’s rights in the
Philippines. These rights are contained in the
Philippine Constitution, which was promulgated two
years before the adoption by the United Nations of
the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Philippine Congress, which was reinstated
by the post-Marcos Constitution, passed
substantial legislation that complied with the new
Constitution’s mandate on the rights and welfare of
These facilitating factors notwithstanding, public
misgovernance has been the major obstacle to
the realization of child protection. More essential
than UN and constitutional mandates, national
development plans and legislation are legal
enforcement and compliance by the State. The
full protection of children’s rights remains an
aspiration, with nearly half of the population being
below the poverty line and deprived of basic health
services and quality education.
Hope for the improvement of children’s lives and
our society as a whole lies in empowering our
young population. It is based on this premise that
the study submits the following recommendations:
Candidates in the forthcoming national
and local elections in 2010 should
give priority to children’s rights in their
campaign platforms. Both the political
aspirants and the voting public should be
made aware of the necessity of building a
better society for the future generations.
The youth must be enfranchised and
must be educated to wisely exercise their
right of suffrage. They must be informed
of their rights as well as the importance of
strengthening democracy in their country.
Civil society should be vigilant in ensuring
that stronger laws protecting children’s
rights are passed. Should there be a
constitutional convention, public pressure
should bear on the delegates that the
new constitution they will frame will
guarantee effective implementation of
laws governing child protection.
The New Media should be tapped to
unlock opportunities for greater selfexpression and creativity among the
youth—a clear asset to democracy and
ultimately to the advancement of the
rights of the child.
The political leadership and the citizenry
should aspire to turn globalization into a
positive force that will benefit our young
population. Our people’s international
exposure and the use of English as a
medium of instruction have enabled us
to more easily adapt to globalization.
The current globalization crisis has
increased awareness and appreciation
for the need to be less dependent on
overseas employment and to create
more industries and generate more local
Improving the conditions of our children in earnest
is directly linked to the future of the nation as a
whole. Better educated, healthier and well-raised
children will generate fresh generations of leaders,
talents and workforce that would bring technology,
industry and politics in our country to a higher
level. Change is taking place all over our region
and the world. We cannot allow ourselves to be
resigned to being in a “changeless” land. Change
is possible as long as we choose the right leaders.
By guaranteeing good governance for the next
generations, we are ensuring that their rights will
be protected. Only then shall we have the peace of
mind that the Filipino children of the future will be
safer, happier and better treated.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
(adopted in 1987), Article XV, Section 3,
Article XIV, Section 1.
Article XIV, Section 2.
Article XIV, Section 3.
Article XIV, Section 5.
cfm?ArticleID=2650>, accessed 7 December
See Appendix for the Philippine indicators for
the Millennium Development Goals.
UNICEF, 2003, “Children’s Rights at the Heart
of Millennium Development Goals,” <http://>,
accessed on 24 November 2008.
Council for the Welfare of Children, 2006, The
Filipino Child of the Millennium National Plan
of Action for Children: 2005- 2010 (Quezon
City: CWC), p. 9.
2008 Worldwide Governance Indicators, World
Bank reported in Philippines Daily Inquirer,
25 June 2008 <
inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080625144628/WB-Corruption-in-RP-worst-in-EastAsia>, accessed on 14 November 2008.
Report of Transparency International
Global Corruption Barometer 2007
<www.transparency. org/content/
report_en_02-12-2007.pdf>, accessed on 24
November 2008.
Council for the Welfare of Children, 2008,
2006 State of the Filipino Children: Focus on
Nutrition (Quezon City: CWC), p. 6.
Ibid., p. 12.
Ibid., p. 23.
Ibid., p. 23.
Ibid., p. 26.
The Child and Youth Welfare Code
(Presidential Decree No. 603 <http://www.
codeofthephilippines.htm>, accessed on 23
November 2008.
Ibid., p. 28.
Ibid., p. 29.
Human Development Network, 2000,
Philippine Human Development Report
(Makati: United Nations Development
Program). <>, accessed on
14 December 2008.
Rights Center–Adhikain para sa Karapatang
Pambata in cooperation with the International
Labour Organization, 2002, Opening Doors: A
Presentation of Laws Protecting Filipino Child
Workers (Makati City: ILO and Ateneo Human
Rights Center); Sedfrey Candelaria (ed.), 1997,
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
and the Philippine Legal System (Makati City:
Adhikain para sa Karapatang Pambata of the
Ateneo Human Rights Center).
Council for the Welfare of Children et al.,
1999, Laws and Issuances on Children,
Vol. I (Q.C.: CWC); Council for the Welfare
of Children, 2005, Laws and Issuances on
Children, Vol. 2 (Q.C.: CWC); Ateneo Human
Chapter One: Quality, Access and Relevance
in Basic Education in Philippine Human
Development Report, 2000, op. cit. <http://
PHDR/D.%20Chap1.pdf>, accessed on 14
December 2008.
See Wing-Cheong Chan (ed.). 2007.
Support for Victims of Crime in Asia (Oxford:
Council for the Welfare of Children, 2008,
2006 State of the Filipino Children Report
(Quezon City: CWC), p. 19.
Lourdes Balanon, 1998, “Women and
Children as Victims of Crime,” <http://
PpPhilippinesBalanonItem5. htm>, accessed
on 3 December 2008.
UNICEF Philippines, 2007, “Stop Child
Pornography Today!” <
philippines/support/sup_12.html>, accessed
on 27 November 2008.
Ma. Lourdes Carandang, 2008, “What is
Happening to the Filipino Family?” in Ma.
Lourdes A. Carandang and Dr. Queena N.
Lee-Chua (eds.), The Filipino Family Surviving
the World: Psychological Essays on the Family
(Manila: Anvil Publishing), pp. 3-7.
PREDA Foundation, 2005, Report on the
implementation of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child by the Philippines,
prepared for the Committee on the Rights of
Child, 38th Session, Geneva, Switzerland,
January. <
accessed on 4 December 2008.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 March 2008.
Social Weather Stations, 24 August, 2009., accessed on 7
September 2009.
Julio Teehankee, 2004, “Generational Shift
and Elite Reproduction: Up-and-coming
Leaders in the Philippines,” presented at the
US State Department Conference on Up-andcoming Philippine Leaders and US-Philippines
Relations, Washington, D.C., November.
Internet Worldstats <http://www.>,
accessed on 18 December 2008.
It is claimed that by 2005, there were
34.78 million cellphone subscribers in the
Philippines. <http://salaswildthoughts.>, accessed on
18 December 2008.
For analyses on social impact of texting, see
Rich Ling, 2004, The Mobile Connection:
The Cell Phone’s Impact on Society (San
FraMorgan Kaufmann: San Francisco);
Vicente Rafael. “The Cell Phone and the
Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary
Philippines,” in Public Culture, v.15, n.3,
Oct. 2003, 399-425; Raul Pertierra,
Mobile Phones, Identity and Discursive
Intimacy,” “Human Technology,” Volume 1
(1), April 2005, 23-44; Mediappro, 2006,
The Appropriation of New Media by Youth
(Brussels: European Commission). <http://
pdf>, accessed on 22 November 2008.
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Appendix A: Millennium Development Goals Indicators
Source: National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)
1991 and 1994-Based on old poverty methodology which uses region-base menus, special rice, regional prices and changing FE/TBE ratio.
Data are disaggregated by region.
1997-2003 - Based on newly approved provincial poverty methodology which uses region-base menus, provincial prices, ordinary rice and
Source: National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)
Source: National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)
Source: Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) - National Nutrition Survey
Source: National Statistical Coordination Board
1992 1993
1995 1996
1997 1998
2001 2002
2003 2004
Source: Department of Education
*refers to the proportion of enrollees at the beginning grade or year who reach the final grade or year at the end of the required number of
years of study
1990 1991 1992
1995 1996
1997 1998
2000 2001* 2002* 2003 2004
Source: Department of Education
*Revisions were due to DepEd latest data updates
1994 1995
2001 2002
Source: Department of Education (DepEd) for data on primary and secondary education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for
tertiary education data.
1994 1995
2001 2002
Source: Department of Education (DepEd) for data on primary and secondary education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for
tertiary education data.
1993 1994
2000 2001
Source: Department of Education (DepEd) for data on primary and secondary education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for
tertiary education data.
Source: National Statistics Office - 1990 data: Census of Population and
Housing; 1994 data: Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey
1992 1993 1994
1997 1998
2000 2001
2003 2004
1999 2000
Source: National Statistics Office - Labor Force Survey
(Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines)
House of
1992 1993
Source: Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Source: National Statistics Office - 1998 and 2003 data: National Demographic and Health Survey; 1990 to 1995 data: TWG on Maternal
and Child Mortality-National Statistical Coordination Board
INFANT MORTALITY RATE (per 1,000 live births)
Source: National Statistics Office - 1998 and 2003 data: National Demographic and Health Survey; 1990 to 1995 data: TWG on Maternal
and Child Mortality-National Statistical Coordination Board
1992 1993
1995 1996
1997 1998
2001 2002
2003 2004
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS)
MATERNAL MORTALITY RATIO (per 100,000 live births)
Source: National Statistics Office - 1998 and 2000 data: National Demographic and Health Survey; 1990 to 1995 data: TWG on Maternal
and Child Mortality-National Statistical Coordination Board
Regional Data
1992 1993
1995 1996
1997 1998
2001 2002
2003 2004
Source: Department of Health
National Epidemiology Center/Philippine Health Statistics
(excludes traditional midwives)
Source: National Statistics Office
1993 and 1998 data: National Demographic and Health Survey;
1995 to 1997 and 1999 to 2002 data: Family Planning Survey
Source: National Statistics Office
1993 and 1998 data: National Demographic and Health Survey;
1995 to 1997 and 1999 to 2002 data: Family Planning Survey
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) for death rates and
Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
Death Rates
1992 1993
1994 1995
1998 1999
2000 2001
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) for death rates and
Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
PrevalenceSource: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) for death rates
and Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
Death Rates
1992 1993
1994 1995
1998 1999
2000 2001
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) for death rates and
Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System
(FHSIS) for death rates and Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
Source: Department of Health - National Epidemiology Center/Field Health Service Information System
(FHSIS) for death rates and Philippine Health Statistics for prevalence rates
Source: Forest Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
For 1997 to 2002, an assessment of the current forest situation based on recent studies was undertaken in order to generate an updated
statistics which was released in 2003.
Revised as of July 5, 2004 based on the submission of DENR, data posted earlier referred to proportion of area classified as forest.
1992 1993
1995 1996
1997 1998
2001 2002
2003 2004
Source: Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Revisions were due to PAWB latest data updates.
Source: Environmental Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Revised as of July 5, 2004 based on the audited report as submitted by EMB.
*needs to be verified by an independent auditor to be conducted this June and expected to be completed by July 30, 2004.
No urban-rural disaggregation
Source: National Statistics Office - 1990-2000 data from census of Popn and Housing; 1998, 1999 and
2002 data from Annual Poverty Indicators Survey
No urban-rural disaggregation
Source: National Statistics Office - 1990-2000 data from census of Popn and Housing; 1998, 1999 and
2002 data from Annual Poverty Indicators Survey
TO SECURE TENURE (owned and rented) (%)
Source: National Statistics Office - 1990 Census of Population and Housing
Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas - Selected Philippine Economic Indicators
2003 2004
2005 2006
16.4 16.9
14.9 15.9
18.9 18.41
Source: National Statistics Office
Note: 1990-1996 data were based on the 1980 Census population projections; starting 1997, data were based on the 1995 census
population projections.
Source: National Telecommunications Commission
Source: National Telecommunications Commission
Source: NCSB <>
Economy, Environment and Filipino Children
Communication Media and the
Future of Filipino Children
by Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid and Ramon R. Tuazon
The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise
a child,” suggests that a child’s socialization is
best nurtured in a community, where parents,
neighbors, other community members, and
community-based institutions like the school
and media reflect and reinforce the cultural
values and practices of that community. It is in
this environment that interaction, dialogue, and
opportunity for participation in the life of the
community are nurtured.
In this age of the Internet and social networking,
it is the small media in the community that play
a pivotal role in the development of the Filipino
child. For despite the many benefits that a
globalized communication media system brings,
the community media hold the greater promise
of fostering interpersonal connectivity to promote
cooperation, creativity and critical thinking and to
develop one’s own cultural and national identity.
This is the challenge in today’s Knowledge Society,
where the communication media virtually dominate
every major activity of children and youth – from
play to leisure, family relations to schooling,
socialization to education. Amidst the pervasive
presence of big media, small community media
provide the necessary counterpoint in helping
shape the attitudes, beliefs, values and lifestyles of
Filipino children.
The communication media landscape for today’s
children and youth includes print, radio, television,
video games, computers and the on-line technology
of e-mail and various Internet applications such
as social networking, blogs, chats, and usergenerated content. The shape of this landscape,
media-related issues on child development,
trends in communication media and the scenario
for the Filipino child, and policy and program
recommendations are discussed in the sections
that follow.
Overall, the general trends in communication as
they relate to the future of Filipino children are as
Children today are participating more
actively in generating information,
initiating interaction with peer groups
through social networking, and using
the media more actively as sources of
Children are spending more time with the
media than they do with formal schoolrelated activities.
Children are more discriminating about
the choices of programs and information
that they want from the media.
The availability of more channels and
program choices presents a challenge in
media education and regulation.
High costs of investments in media
infrastructure and content will be a
constraint in the development of sociallyoriented programs which do not have
much commercial value, as owners or
investors are more interested in the
return of their investment.
Many of the values taught in schools are
seldom supported by the values depicted
in mainstream media.
The growth of “citizen media” is a
favorable trend as it encourages the
participation of children and the youth
in the production and dissemination of
information. They now are both producers
and consumers (“prosumers”). However,
this trend should be accompanied by
adherence to ethical standards. This
has also implications in the relationship
between professional journalists and
citizen journalists.
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Children of the Media:
A Situationer
Findings of the 2006 McCann-Erickson
Intergenerational Youth Study found that top
leisure activities for teens after school remain to be
traditional media, that is, watching TV and listening
to the radio. However, there is an emerging
prominence of technology-related activities like
use of cellphones and Internet, indicating a
growing interest and participation in the so-called
technocentric life.
television is the most pervasive media channel. The
2004 4As Media Factbook showed TV household
ownership as follows: Metro Manila (96%), Mega
Manila (94%), Balance Luzon (77%), Visayas (86%),
and Mindanao (83%). Television also was perceived
as the most credible source of knowledge and
information and overtook radio as the media
channel providing the population with knowledge
and information (2004 FLEMMS). Catering to
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are The Filipino
Channel of ABS-CBN and GMA Pinoy TV of GMA
Cable Television
A. When Old is Still In: The Mass Media
Metro Manila has 30 dailies: 12 broadsheets,
with nine in English and three in Chinese, and
18 tabloids (2007). These dailies claim a total
circulation of over seven million (2005). About 150
community papers outside Metro Manila regularly
come out weekly or daily. Newspapers were cited
as one of the top three sources of knowledge
and information in the 2003 Functional Literacy,
Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS). In
terms of credibility, newspapers rank third, after
television and radio, as a “more often credible”
mass medium (Philippine Center for Investigative
Journalism, 2004).
Radio is a pervasive mass medium, with 86
percent of Philippine households owning radio
sets. Nationwide, radio reaches 98 percent of the
population. Radio stations nationwide total 993
(National Telecommunications Commission, 2007).
As a source of knowledge and information, radio is
one of the top three sources (2003 FLEMMS). In
nine regions, it ranked number one. As a credible
source, radio is considered “more often credible”
by 35 percent, ranking higher than newspapers but
lower than television.
With 350 stations nationwide (NTC, 2007),
There are now 753 cable TV operators nationwide
owned by more than 500 companies. Cable TV
is enjoyed by 36 percent of 2.2 million homes in
Metro Manila. For the 13.1 million homes with TV
in Urban Philippines, only 26 percent have cable
connection. Most programs on cable TV, however,
are from foreign satellite channels, since not
enough local programs are produced.
B. New Media, New Priorities
Personal Computers and Internet Access
The coming of the Cyber Age in the Philippines has
also brought a “digital divide.” Only 7 percent of
households owned personal computers, as of 2003
(FLEMMS). The 4As Media Factbook (2004) cited
that computer ownership among households in
Metro Manila was 17 percent and only 7 percent in
Urban Philippines. Personal computer penetration
is estimated at 1.9 for every 100 persons.
The Survey on Internet Access and Use by Filipino
Children completed in October 2009 by the AIJC for
UNICEF provides baseline data on the topic. The
survey had over 900 schoolchildren respondents
from Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
According to the study, Internet usage is 74 percent
for all four areas, higher in both the Visayas
area (90%) and Metro Manila (88%). The lowest
incidence of usage is in Mindanao (47%). Majority
of the non-users of Internet are female (55%),
between nine to 12 years old (51%), are in grades
four to six (52%), and studying in the public schools
(66%). This finding seems to indicate the existence
of a digital divide. Reasons for not using the
Internet centered mainly on the absence of Internet
connection at home/school (61%) and computer
illiteracy (51%).
Our schoolchildren are quite “late” users, as
majority first used the Internet between 8 – 11
years old, with Metro Manila and Visayas children
as early users (2-9 years old), compared to Luzon
and Mindanao schoolchildren.
Internet cafes provide the venue for bridging the
digital divide, as 8 of 10 Internet users access the
Internet in Internet cafes. Grade-schoolers access
the Internet more at home than in Internet cafes,
perhaps because the former may be perceived by
parents and guardians as safer and more secure.
In contrast, high school boys go to Internet cafés
probably because there are less restrictions and
they are able to socialize more with their peer
The Synovate Media Atlas study conducted
nationwide from July 2008 to June 2009 reported
that Internet access in the Philippines stands
at 40 percent, with the younger segment as the
highest at 60 percent. In the Greater Manila area,
46 percent of respondents have access. Data was
gathered from 8,028 respondents aged between
15 and 64 across all socioeconomic groups.
An earlier related study conducted OctoberNovember 2008 is the Yahoo-Nielsen Net Index
2008. Covering 1,200 respondents with ages
ranging from 10 to over 50 years old, from 22
major cities including Metro Manila, the study
reported that children and young people are among
the heavy Internet users with 50 percent in this age
bracket accessing the Internet. Another heavy user
is the 20 to 29 year-old bracket with 41 percent
going online.
Online Social Networks
Online social networks present a new and growing
environment wherein people exchange social
information and manage impressions. It is a
form of Internet application that helps connect
individuals online (Wikipedia 2006).
Friendster (, the most popular
social network service (SNS) in the Philippines, is
estimated to be used by about 5 million Filipino, as
of end 2005. There are over 58 million registered
Friendster users worldwide. The biggest percentage
of users in Asia is from the Philippines with 39
percent of the site traffic. Other social networks
include Myspace, Livejournal, Multiply, and
In the Social Media Study conducted by Universal
McCann in March 2008 entitled Power to the
People Wave 3, the Philippines leads the way with
83 percent of the people surveyed being a member
of a social network, followed by 76 percent in both
Hungary and Poland.
A high incidence (88%) of membership in online
social networks was reported by respondents of
the AIJC 2009 study. There is no difference among
Mindanao (89%), Metro Manila (88%) and the
Visayas (88%). Luzon respondents indicated the
lowest (76%) incidence of membership, probably
because being located in mountainous areas they
have limited access to the Internet.
Wikipedia defines blog as a “website where entries
are written in chronological order and commonly
displayed in reverse chronological order.” Blogging
enables individuals to “publish” their own profile,
thoughts, and opinions, among others.
According to LiveJournal, the Philippines ranks
seventh among the top 15 countries where blog
hosting is popularly used. There are presently
39,274 Filipino bloggers under this hosting site.
Among 29 countries surveyed, the Philippines
ranks second with 66 percent of Internet users
writing a blog, or 42 million bloggers, next to China
with 70 percent (Universal Media Study: Universal
McCann Power to the People Wave 3 Report,
The 2009 AIJC study indicates that only a little
over one-fourth (27%) of respondents indicated
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
they are writing blogs. The highest incidence
was reported by Metro Manila (34%) and Luzon
(32%). Mindanao respondents reported the lowest
incidence at 8 percent. The low incidence of
blogging is unfortunate as “responsible” blogging
can have positive impact on child development,
such as enhanced writing skills, reasoning, selfexpression and even critical thinking. As expected,
high school students blog more often than
elementary students.
Online Gaming
Private school students chat more than their
counterparts from public schools. Over one-third
(37%) of online chatters chat two to three times a
week. Fortunately, most do not chat with strangers,
perhaps aware of the dangers of doing so. The high
incidence of online chatting among elementary
and high school students can be attributed to
the availability of online chatting in many web
applications. Online chatting is now facilitated
by online games, chat rooms, instant messaging
clients such as Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk,
Skype, and Window Live Messenger.
According to the 2009 AIJC study, online gaming
is another favorite with almost 8 of 10 elementary
and high school students playing online games.
This can be attributed to the visual and interactive
characteristics of online games. There are more
grade school pupils than high school students who
play online. This is probably because high school
respondents have other social activities besides
playing online games. Surprisingly, there are more
girls than boys in elementary playing online games,
as the latter may have other social activities
outside the house while girls may opt to play online
at home. But as schoolchildren grow older, there
are more boys than girls playing online. Incidence
of online gaming is highest in Luzon and lowest in
Mindanao. In Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao,
more males play online games than females.
Use of Wikipedia
Joey Alaralla, founding president of the Asian
Gaming Journalists Association, has observed that
“teens and twenty-somethings tend to patronize
online games more,” as reported by Ronald James
Panis (2007).The same report noted that online
gaming makes up 80 percent of the total Internet
use in the country. Online gaming subscribers in
the Philippines increased from 60,000 in 2003
to 350,000 in 2004. The International Data
Corporation predicted that by 2009, there would be
6.9 million Filipino gamers!
According to the NTC (2006), there are 42,868,911
cellular mobile telephone subscribers (CMTS). This
number translates to a CMTS density of 49.29.
PLDT President Napoleon Nazareno has forecast
a 70 percent mobile penetration by 2010. Major
cellular phone operators are SMART (17,201,005
subscribers) and Globe (16,659,742 subscribers).
Other operators are Piltel (6,974,379), Digitel
(2,000,000), Nextmobile (22,411), Extelcom
(10,374), and CURE (1,000).
Wikipedia is popular among elementary and high
school students, and its use is more pronounced
among the latter. A little over two-thirds (68%)
of respondents of the AIJC survey are using the
Wiki. It is used primarily for education purposes
whether for school work or for research not related
to schooling. The site complements textbooks
and other print references. A possible reason for
its popularity among students is ease in getting
information on almost any topic, which makes
doing assignments (research) less tedious. The
online format makes it a better option than print –
since online is visual and interactive.
Mobile or Cellular Phones
Short Messaging Service
Online Chatting
Schoolchildren (3 out of 5) also chat online with
friends and family/relatives, as shown in the 2009
AIJC study. The highest incidence of chatting online
is highest in Metro Manila and lowest in Mindanao.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of Filipinos aged 15
to 64 used short-message-service or SMS to
communicate with one another, while the same
group agreed that SMS has become an important
form of communication to them, according to the
latest data from Synovate’s Media Atlas study. A
survey of Pulse Asia in 2003 showed that about 70
percent of texters sent as many as 10 messages a
day, and another 13 percent sent more (11 to 20).
On the whole, about 250 million text messages are
sent per day by Filipinos. Of this number, 70 million
text messages consist of the one-letter word, “K”!
Communication Media and Child
Both real-life and media-related activities affect
the development of children. Child development
specialist Feny de los Angeles-Bautista points out
the essential elements in child development, which
are growth and development in motor language,
thinking, and social skills. Development from
early childhood through adolescence involves
the development of children’s personalities, their
sense of self and autonomy, their intelligence and
ability to think, reason out and solve problems, and
their values (undated report).
While much emphasis has been placed on the
perils of exposure to both mass and new media,
the generation of today is also on the winning
end of the advances in technology worldwide.
In cyberspace, children do as in the real world.
they use computers for most of the activities of
traditional childhood. That is, they play, socialize,
communicate and learn in the course of their
explorations (Bautista).
Cognitive Development
Liwag (2007) claimed that exposure to imagery in
electronic technologies might have contributed to
the selective increases in non-verbal intelligence
scores during the past century. She cited the study
by Flynn (1994) which compared the average
scores of British respondents of comparable
ages in the non-verbal test in 1942 versus 1992.
The said test showed that there were significant
increases for all age groups tested.
On the downside, Dr. Queena Lee-Chua of Ateneo
de Manila University (2007) claimed that excessive
TV watching is one reason why our youth cannot
focus well or sustain attention. She cited the 2004
study by Dr. Dmitri Christakis, a pediatrician at the
Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle.
He found that kids aged one to three who watched
TV or videos regularly faced a 10 percent increased
risk in attention deficit problems when they
reached age seven.
Adolescents as well are not immune to attention
problems. Another recent study by the Columbia
University College of Physicians and Surgeons in
New York followed 700 children for a decade and
found that 14-year-olds who watched TV for more
than three hours daily were twice as likely not to
finish school, compared to those who watched
for less than an hour. Watching too much TV has
made activities such as homework and reading
more boring and more difficult for them. Chua-Lee
(2007) stressed that increased “tuning out” by
media-blunted brains of children is one factor in
the growing epidemic of attention problems.
Meanwhile, the Youth Protection Roundtable Toolkit
(YPRT) warns of Internet addiction especially
among children and young people who are at risks
of not being able to switch off the computer.
Socio-Emotional Development
Communication media have affected the social
and emotional development of children and the
youth. For example, how they relate to their parents
and their peers are influenced largely by their
exposure to these various media. Liwag (2007)
cited that equality in online communication among
computer users of all ages tends to erode authority
structures. This development could mean that
children now may be less accepting of parental
As to social connections, the Internet has
become an instrument to keep up and maintain
relationships with close friends and close
family members. However, it also creates virtual
relationships with strangers and acquaintances,
thus forming “weak ties” that provide less social
support than real relationships with family and
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Charles J. Sykes in The End of Privacy (1999) warns
of profound consequences for families of “way too
much information” and end of privacy. Say Sykes:
The young are no longer the uninitiated or
the innocent. They no longer have to pass
through stages as they are socialized and
introduced to the secrets of adulthood.
All the veils are down. Any child who
watches TV, author James Twitchell notes,
‘sees things that only adults would have
known of in a pre-electronic world.’ On the
Internet, they can find out about things
that adults do that even many adults have
never imagined.
Physical Growth and Child Development
The 2006 McCann-Erickson Intergenerational
Youth Study underscored that technology has
made an impact on the youth lifestyle, as indicated
by a significant decline in 2005 in the young
people’s involvement in physical activities like
sports. Sedentary pursuits like watching television
and playing computer games have become their
preferred. These activities expose them to a
number of physical risks including vision problems,
seizures, hand injuries, and other musculo-skeletal
complaints. Such sedentary activities have likewise
been cited as a factor in the increasing number of
obese children and adolescents.
Liwag (2007) cited recent studies that showed
evidence that computers could have a negative
impact on a child’s vision. She said that about
25 to 30 percent of computer-using children
need corrective eyewear to work comfortably and
safely at the computer. She added that “flicker
frequencies” or quickly flashing images in some
video games could also trigger seizures.
In a paper presented during the July 2007
Philippine Association of Nutrition (PAN)
Conference, Ms. Anna Jacob noted that many
adolescents are engaged in health-compromising
behavior including poor food habits and a
sedentary lifestyle. She said that long hours of
study combined with sedentary hobbies such as
playing computer games and watching television
increase sedentary periods in the day.
Jacob’s observations were validated by Dr.
Sioksoan Chan Cua. During the same forum,
Chan Cua expressed concern over the growing
prevalence of overweight and obesity as children
in developing countries have been adopting a
Western lifestyle characterized by decreased
physical activity and over-consumption of energydense food.
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics
issued a statement advising parents to limit
their children’s time spent with media (no more
than one to two hours a day) and to emphasize
alternative activities such as sports and games, as
well as imaginative play.
The World Wide Web also contains accessible
information that may be physically harmful to
children, e.g., websites promoting suicide, anorexia,
etc. According to the Youth Protection Roundtable,
with Web 2.0 and the increasing possibilities
to publish user’s own content, the risk of being
exposed to content inciting harm is growing.
Family Relations
Contrary to the popular notion that media
consumption has eroded family relations, the latest
research conducted by OMD Philippines showed
that media technologies in fact have helped many
Filipino households keep their families intact.
A high 89 percent of respondents agreed that
technology enabled them to remain in contact with
other family members.
The study further showed that, with the emergence
of a multi-tasking lifestyle, the Filipino family
used 10.9 hours per day in the consumption of
media and 14 hours in utilizing technology (OMD
Philippines, 2007). About 4.8 hours were spent
in surfing the Internet and 2.7 hours in watching
television. Respondents also said that they spent
more than 6 hours with their families and almost
2 hours with their friends. The rest of the day was
spent for routine activities like sleeping, school or
Linking Disconnected Families
Some 10 percent of the country’s population
abroad of 8 million are Overseas Filipino Workers
(OFWs), with an average deployment of one million
a year. The estimated total remittances from OFWs
in 2008 is US$ 15.7 billion
The 2003 Children and Families Study conducted
by the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Scalabrini
Migration Center and Overseas Workers Welfare
Administration (OWWA) reported the following
Parental absence created displacements,
disruptions and changes in caregiving
arrangements. The departure of one or
both parents left an emotional mark on
the young children left behind.
In terms of socioeconomic variables, the
children of migrants were markedly better
off compared to the children of nonmigrants.
Among migrant families, family relations
remained close not by presence but
by constant communication. Access to
instant communication helped bring
family members together despite the
Access to communication technology
played an important part in linking family
members separated by distance.
OFW families were twice more likely to
have a landline telephone connection
than non-OFW families (63% vs 29%).
Some 94 percent of migrant families had
cell phones, compared to 60 percent
among non-migrant families.
More than a third (35%) of OFW children
had their own cell phones compared to
only 12 percent among non-OFWs.
Traditional ways of communication
between migrants and the left-behind
families, such as letters and cassette
tapes, have been replaced by the
telephone and SMS or texting.
Communication not only kept family
members updated about what goes on in
their daily life but also enabled parents to
continue their parenting role.
Communication and Culture
Communication media is part of the broader
cultural industries. Several communication
theorists affirm the impact of media in shaping
culture. Media is recognized as the harbinger
of popular culture. One of the most common
criticisms against media is that it abets “cultural
homogenization.” At the global setting, the western
media is perceived as the cultural yardstick
particularly for values and lifestyles. At the national
level, urban centers define what is “in” or “out.”
With the advent of new media, especially cable and
satellite television and the Internet coupled with
economic globalization, the threat of a monoculture
swallowing up the world’s diverse cultures seems
to have become more real and urgent.
But technology is a doubled-edged sword. Local
communities now have at their disposal the same
technologies which will enable them to share to
a worldwide audience their indigenous cultures.
According to Thomas Friedman (The World is Flat),
“uploading has made possible the globalization of
the local,” or what another communication scholar
calls “glocalizaton.”The Internet is a very powerful
tool for the preservation and enhancement of
cultural autonomy and particularity. The global
media can also be a potent tool in promoting
universally shared values which can bind people as
global citizens.
The Right to Privacy
The advent of new ICTs has exacerbated the
threat to the right to privacy, with the immense
or almost unlimited capacity of new technologies
such as computers to accumulate, store, process,
retrieve and transmit personal and other data and
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
The emerging “Tell-All Society” is the result of a
confluence of events. Modern technology has
facilitated the development of expansive and
intrusive databases that add seemingly harmless
information, such as a demographic profile, to an
individual’s credit worthiness, work experiences,
and even political leanings. More and more
government agencies, business companies, and
other institutions like hospitals are automating
their operations and in the process collecting
unrestricted personal information. Likewise,
the latest surveillance equipment and facilities
are becoming more sophisticated, unobtrusive,
powerful and intrusive. Examples are microphones
that can pick up conversations from more than a
mile away and global position satellites that can
track movements especially when one uses a cell
phone. Sykes (1999) wrote about Kindercams
which allow parents to watch their child in the
day care center over the Net and personal
transponders implanted in animals (or individuals)
now being marketed to enable parents to monitor
the whereabouts of their children.
This seemingly growing disregard for privacy,
however, can be self-inflicted. Note how thousands
of individuals audition for the TV reality show
Pinoy Big Brother that airs 24/7 every activity
of the housemates. Sykes (1999) explains this
phenomenon, thus:
Perhaps this is inevitable in a postmodern
celebrity culture that has traded
achievement for publicity; restraint for
exposure; reticence for authenticity;
and decency for self-revelation. Daytime
television has become a national town
hall of confession, peopled with a class
of individuals willing to endure any
humiliation or pay any price to escape
their privacy. Unable to achieve fame
through accomplishments or actual
celebrity through other means, they offer
their privacy as the kindling for their
moment of pseudo-celebrity, especially
on television.
Related to privacy are data persistence and data
portability. The Youth Protection Roundtable (YPRT)
warned that children and youth are often not aware
of the short-term and long-term consequences
of published texts and pictures which they do not
want to be publicly available later; but unfortunately
it is difficult if not impossible to delete this
information totally later on. Data portability refers
to ease in transferring data deliberately stored on
a server or platform to innumerable other servers;
and in the process, people lose their privacy.
Many children and young people are also
unmindful of the dangers or negative
consequences of readily disclosing or sharing
private information with the desire to be part of a
network or community. Related is the problem of
identity theft wherein some individuals intentionally
use other people’s electronic identity for personal
(and even criminal) gain.
ICT and Violence
Past studies have confirmed that continued
exposure to violence on television desensitizes
children to other people’s suffering. Numerous
studies have also shown that watching violent
television programs and films increases children
and adults’ aggression and hostility. As early as
1970, a study of the US Surgeon General already
reported that “TV encourages aggressive behavior
among children.”
According to noted Filipino psychologist Dr. Lourdes
Carandang (as cited in Braid and Tuazon, 1998),
media exposure to violence, aggression and
meaningless sexual activities stimulates aggressive
impulses and therefore primes the child to act
aggressively. For older children, the impact is more
subtle and insidious. Even for adults, constant
exposure can lead them to think that what they see
is the natural state of things.
The popularity of computer games can be a reason
for alarm, for it is plausible that playing violent
computer games would have similar effects. Many
computer games are equally violent and realistic.
Research has also shown that playing such games
desensitizes children to human pain.
Liwag (2007) cited a study which analyzed the
Nintendo and Sega Genesis computer games. The
results showed that nearly 80 percent of the games
had aggression or violence as an objective. Liwag
noted that while educational software for home
computers included many games that encouraged
positive, pro-social behaviors by rewarding players
who cooperated or shared, the most popular
entertainment software promoted competition and
aggression. It was also noted that the amount of
violence increased with each new generation of
games (Subrahmanyam and Greenfield, 1998).
Another study showed that playing a violent game,
even for brief periods, had short-term transfer
effects, such as increased aggression in children’s
free play, hostility to ambiguous questions, and
aggressive thoughts (Subrahmanyam, 2004).
In addition, children who preferred and played
aggressive computer games demonstrated less
pro-social behavior, such as helping someone
(Liwag, 2007).
The top five favorite online games for Filipino
schoolchildren according, to the 2009 AIJC study,
are Audition, Cabal Online, Ran/Ran Online, DOTA
and Counter Strike. Audition is the top choice for
Metro Manila where there are more girl children
players. DOTA and Counter Strike, which feature
violence, are in the top three in two survey areas.
Meanwhile, bullying which is a form of violence is
becoming more prevalent. Mobile phones equipped
with digital camera are used to take defamatory
photos with the intention to share with as many
individuals through MMS or to upload in the
ICT and Pornography
PREDA Foundation Inc. has warned that
pornographic exploitation of children is growing
at an extremely alarming rate, given the backdrop
of poverty, sex trade and sex tourism, trafficking,
advanced technology, and globalization. Recorded
cases in the Philippines show that children aged
12 to 17 are common prey. However, some reports
indicated that victims were even younger than
age five. PREDA’s advocacy paper estimated the
number of child sex workers as between 40,000 to
While technology on the whole has been beneficial,
it has also been used for less than noble purposes.
Trinidad (2005) observed that advances in
technology have allowed for the easier production,
reproduction and dissemination of child
pornographic images and consequently have made
child victimization easier.
Pornography has indeed become widespread
through the World Wide Web. It is estimated
that some 40 percent of active websites host
pornographic materials, with an estimated 260
million pages of pornography online as of July
2003. In a research study by the Crimes Against
Children Research Center in the United States, 25
percent of respondents stated that they had been
exposed to unwanted pornographic materials while
surfing the Internet (Trinidad, 2005).
The 2006 Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years
Later report (as cited by Philippine Daily Inquirer
contributor Cathy Babao-Guballa, 2007) mentioned
that approximately one in seven youth, aged 10 to
17 years old, received sexual solicitation over the
Internet. The report also found that 34 percent
received unwanted exposure to sexual material,
such as pictures of naked people or people having
The Internet has likewise become a venue for the
widespread distribution of all kinds of pornography.
Trinidad (2005) cited reports on pedophiles who
used the Internet to communicate with fellow
pedophiles, to locate like-minded individuals, to
find children to abuse, to transfer and create child
pornography, and to profit financially from such
Indeed, the danger for children does not only lie in
their being recruited as models for lewd materials.
The Internet has spawned a generation of children
who are savvy in navigating their way through
different Internet sites with ease and confidence.
These children, who are the most vulnerable to
be exposed to pornographic sites, may become
desensitized to such images and consequently
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
become desensitized to sexual activity. Some
researchers have suggested that childhood use
of pornography may distort children’s developing
sexuality and encourage sexually abusive behavior
in their adulthood.
Figure 1. The Social Technographics Ladder
The Internet has likewise been used as a digital
highway for human trafficking. Information and
transactions are sometimes processed through
the Internet, although empirical studies are yet to
establish this claim.
Social Technographics Profile
Early this year, Forrester Research introduced the
concept of Social Technographics Profile (STP). Just
as demographics describes the characteristics of
populations and psychographics the psychographic
characteristics of individuals, technographics
focuses on technology behaviors and practices,
particularly in relation to the various Internet
applications such as blogging, social networking,
uploading/ downloading video, contributing to
wikis, and ratings and reviews (Li and Bernoff,
The STP categorizes individuals according to
so-called groundswell activities (various Internet
applications) in which they participate. Through the
use of rungs on a ladder to visualize rankings, it
places in the lowest rung the inactives, while in the
highest rung are the creators.
Initial STPs within countries and across continents
show that children and young people occupy the
higher rungs, compared to older people.
Megatrends in Communication
1. Media Convergence
The delivery of content and services was previously
provided by several media, but today it is done
by a single artifact, often networked computers
and lately mobile phones. New generation mobile
phones have the following features: video (TV) and
audio (radio) streaming, messages (SMS, MMS
and e-mail), Internet access, camera for photo and
video capture, and video gaming.
Friedman (2006) describes the trend as
follows: “Convergence technologies challenge
the boundaries that separate the once neatly
divided territories of print, broadcast and
telecommunications. This does not mean that this
will lead to a world without borders, but probably
to one with different boundaries and more crossboundary work.”
2. User-Generated Content
Media producers no longer have the power to
dictate where, when, how and by whom their
content is received. With the new technologies and
available gizmos, today’s media “consumers” or
users, especially the young ones, now have other
options aside from the big mass media providers.
They can now source and repackage or produce
their own content and patronize content produced
by their peers.
Based on the 2009 AIJC Study, the incidence of
uploading images and music is 71 percent and 69
percent, respectively, compared with downloading
at 77 percent and 70 percent, respectively. In
addition to being attractive to the techno-literate,
many uploading/download sites are very userfriendly even for young children. Friendster is the
most frequently used site for uploading music and
images, while YouTube is the choice for videos. On
the other hand, IMEEM and MP3 are the favorite
sites for downloading music; Friendster, Google and
Yahoo for images; and Yahoo for games;
and YouTube and Lime Wire for videos.
3. Consumers as Prosumers
The latest technologies have allowed individuals,
often young people, to produce their own TV shows
or movies (posted on YouTube or Dailymotion),
their own music or radio program (podcasts),
and publications (blogs). Computers, videocams,
digicams, mobiles, iPods, MP3s/4s, and such other
gadgets allow consumers to produce their own
sights and sounds. Now self-reliant in meeting
their information and entertainment needs, such
media consumers who are also content producers
have been dubbed “prosumers”
ICTs and the new media have empowered and
enhanced the independence of today’s children
and youth. Adults can no longer, all the time, tell
their children how to work things out. In some
cases, children are the ones telling adults (parents)
how to do things especially on the use of ICT. Now
more than ever, children are given the power to
make decisions (Who will you evict tonight on Pinoy
Big Brother or Pinoy Dream Academy? Who will
be the first Pinoy Idol?). At a young age, they are
communicating and making decisions on their own.
The average age of first-time mobile users is
six years old! The earliest known blog in the
Philippines was made by 10-year old Lauren Dado
in 1996.
4. Freedom of Expression
Very much related to the ability to produce their
own content is the ability of children and young
people to freely express themselves. For example,
with blogs, children have a ready medium for
expressing their views on diverse issues and topics
with hardly any control by adults.
The free-wheeling nature of the new media is shown
in the experience of four student bloggers of Quezon
City High School who were ordered suspended for
10 days in January 2009 for posting an article in
their blog that
allegedly contained articles and photographs against
the school principal’s policies and person as well as
the students’ gripes over irregular lunch hours and
required subjects. According to news reports, the
principal also ordered the closure of the school’s two
student publications, Electron and Banyuhay while
the student newspapers’ faculty adviser was also
sacked from his position. The regional director of the
Department of Education-National Capital Region
eventually ordered the lifting of the suspension
In this relation, UNESCO in a 2008 document issued
a reminder that with expanded freedom, there is the
possibility that children and youth may still have little
understanding of their ethical responsibilities. This
is one of the reasons why UNESCO is pushing for
media and information literacy for children.
5. Information Explosion and a Cluttered Media
Children and youth today are exposed to an
unlimited amount of information which can only be
attributed to what Emily Abrera of McCann Erickson
has described as “more media channels, more
media options, and more media choices.” Because
young consumers are now more occupied with so
many things to do with so little time available, Abrera
opined that it will be a constant struggle to get their
attention. She described today’s young consumers
as “empowered, informed, multi-taskers, impatient,
hard to reach, attract and engage – or fool for that
The abundance of data and information makes it
extremely challenging especially for young people
to organize and process information. Children
and young adults now need other competencies
beyond the traditional 3Rs, i.e., reading, ‘riting
and ‘rithmetic, which no longer suffice. Media
and information literacy are the most important
competency in today’s Knowledge Society.
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Personal Image, Mobile Sociality and
Solitary Mobility
Children and youth define their own image. On
SNS, they create their own identities outside the
confines of social status and physical appearances.
The study by Garcia (2006) found that only heavy
male users revealed more personal information
over Friendster. Unlike their female counterparts,
the heavy male users tried to project a desirable
image of themselves through interesting writeups and photos. The study further found that all
user groups browsed through the profiles when
seeking information about others online. More than
anything else, they looked at the testimonials. All
user groups considered photos contained in the
profiles and testimonials as important in forming
impressions of others.
Quoting from the blog of Alex de Carvalho, Abrera
(2008) observed that individuals, especially
children and young people, have two choices, i.e.,
Mobile Sociality or Solitary Mobility. One expresses
his or her preference for solitary mobility by wearing
headphones or “shielding acoustically from one’s
environment, by building one’s own private sound
bubble” to listen to music or a Podcast. On the
other hand, one expresses preference for mobile
sociality if he or she is equipped to connect with
the world while on the move, through voice, SMS,
MMS, e-mail, Internet access, etc.
Creative Expressions
New media do not only enable children and young
people to express their views. They also provide
them an additional channel or venue for expressing
or displaying their creativity, innovativeness and
even ingenuity.
For example, at a young age of 17, Charice
Pempengco has been dubbed as the world’s top
YouTube sensation. Her singing performance
uploaded in the FalseVoice channel of YouTube
in 2007 attracted worldwide attention. She was
invited to perform in major broadcast companies
in Sweden, Korea, United Kingdom and the United
States where she guested in top shows such as the
Ellen De Generes Show and Oprah Winfrey Show.
Charice has performed with such luminaries as
Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Josh
Groban, and Boz Scags. (http://charicepempengco.
Other Filipino artists now performing abroad and
discovered through YouTube are Arnel Pineda of the
band Journey and Erin and Roxanne.
Cross-Cultural Boundaries
With the new media has emerged a borderless
world which has resulted in increased or even
unlimited opportunities for interaction within
communities and beyond cultural boundaries.
Children can now directly communicate with
other children across the world and know more
about other cultures beyond what textbooks
and movies can offer. Through peer-to-peer file
sharing applications, cross-cultural communication
becomes a daily reality. These young people do
not only share or exchange music and images.
They also exchange values, beliefs, attitudes, and
Public-zenship (The Tell-All Society)
People, including the younger generation, seem
to be less and less concerned with their privacy
and even tend to enjoy sharing themselves with
the outside world through reality broadcast shows,
blogs, and social network sites (SNS) such as
Friendster and Myspace and equipment such as
camcorders and web cameras. “There is nothing
that someone is not willing to reveal or share about
his or herself” (Sykes, 1999). The 1998 movie The
Truman Show, which is about a television show that
chronicles and broadcasts every minute in the real
life of the main character, is now a 24/7 reality.
Today, there are hundreds of websites chronicling
24/7 the daily lives of individuals to escape, what
Sykes (1999) quoting Frederick Exley describes
as, “the blank anonymity of life.” One of the
most popular of these net-cams is the Jenny-cam
chronicle, visited by some 10,000 customers who
pay US$15 to have a front seat in watching a day in
the life of Jennifer Ringley.
But not all are on “cyber exhibitionism.” To Pinoy
rap icon Francis Magalona, the web was part of his
life support system during his unsuccessful “happy
battle” against cancer. To chronicle his treatment
for myelogenous leukemia, FrancisM, as he was
fondly called by colleagues and fans, created and
maintained his website “A Free Mind on http:// He labelled his
chronicle “happy battle,” the title of one of his
albums released in 1996.
Part of the visual world is the use of color as
part of political activism and social advocacies.
According to Naisbitt, the first to use color for
political campaigns in modern times was former
president Corazon Aquino who used the color
yellow. In Iran, pink was the color of dissent, blue in
Belarus, yellow and pink in Kyrgyzstan, and rose in
Make or Break is a regular radio program aired
over 102.7 FM. A listener calls the radio station
which contacts the partner or love interest of the
caller. The listener-caller talks to his or her partner
on-air to discuss personal matters, usually love
or marital problems. The latter is not aware that
the conversation is being aired live and therefore
listened to by thousands of radio listeners
The print medium continues to be the medium
of choice, both for publications and advertising.
According to Dominador Buhain, president of
the Southeast Asian Nations Book Publishers
Association, books and other printed matter still
dominate the readers’ universe. “In the global
setting, the print business is still 70 percent of the
total, with digital accounting for the remaining 30
percent. We’re still on the traditional stage, and
have not completely moved to the multimedia age
just yet,” he said. (Ho, 2009)
10. Emergence of a Visual Culture
“A farewell to Gutenberg’s world of
scripture, a welcome to MTV’s world of
According to Naisbitt (2006, p. 113), there is an
unprecedented visual assertiveness in the world
today. It is an MTV world where visual narrative
is overwhelming literary narrative. Naisbitt points
to the decline in reading literacy worldwide with
the rate of decline highest among children and
young people compared with the adult population.
Newspaper circulation has also been observed
to be falling in many countries, a phenomenon
Naisbitt refers to as the “slow death of the
newspaper culture.” The world-renowned futurist
attributes this decline to the emerging visual
culture of MTV. The explosion in the visual and
music world continues unabated with Internet
applications (including YouTube and DailyMotion),
new generation cell phones, multimedia players
(MP3s and MP4s), and video games. Quoting
University of Wisconsin Professor James Paul Gee,
Naisbitt describes video games as “the major
cultural activity of the generation 30 or 35 and
below, the way movies and literature were for
earlier generations.”
11. Print Media Still Supreme
It has also been pointed out that other forms of
media did not actually compete with printed matter,
particularly books. In the same article by Abigail
Ho, National Book Development Board executive
director Andrea Pasion-Flores said, “Consumers
are different now, as compared with those from five
or 10 years ago. They now consume various forms
of content from different types of media.” PasionFlores cited research that showed that the more a
person surfs the Internet, watches TV, movies and
DVDs, the more he or she is likely to read books.
12. Citizen Journalism
Primetime news broadcasts now often include
news reports not from regular network
correspondents but from ordinary citizens. These
contributions are either solicited or volunteered
by individuals who happen to be in a place
when a particular news event occurred. Some
news networks encourage viewers or listeners
to send in their news stories. The availability of
new technologies particularly 3G cell phones
and handycams makes it easy for citizens to
be “journalists.” Some have decided to upload
their “news stories” in the YouTube. Citizens’
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
participation in news reporting is now referred to as
“citizen journalism.”
Blogging and podcasting are also other ways of
“practicing” citizen journalism. Says Leo Magno, “In
blogging and podcasting, we are seeing ordinary
citizens reach out to millions without the need to
operate or buy air time from broadcasting stations.
We are seeing them create electronic magazines
without the need to operate a printing press.”
The Internet and other new media channels have
expanded the court of public opinion. Blogging has
become the “fifth estate.”
Generation, i.e., digital media, multimedia, and
computer animation, among others. Unlike their
parents and other elders, they need not leave
for abroad to work. They can do business (work)
at home online through outsourcing schemes.
Outsourcing may yet slow down the dis-integration
of the nuclear Filipino family brought about by the
unabated “wholesale migration” that started in the
late 1980s. “Homesourcing” gives family members
opportunities for more quality time to be together.
In the US, about 23.5 million or 16 percent of the
labor force work from home (Friedman, 2006).
14. New Media and “Schools of the Future”
A raging debate is whether bloggers and
podcasters can be considered journalists when
they do not follow essential journalism principles
such as verification, etc. The main issue is whether
the advent of new media can lead to a redefinition
of news and journalism.
With children and young people at the forefront
of the new media revolution, it is likely that most
of the practitioners of citizen journalism belong
to this so-called Yahoo or Google Generation. A
recent UNESCO document (2009) on media and
information literacy noted that this generation
does not accept that news and information
should come from a daily newspaper or at set
times from television and radio broadcasts.
Rather, they expect to get information, news and
entertainment when they want it and to share
opinions, experiences and lifestyles through social
networking sites.
The growth of “citizen media” is a favorable trend,
as it encourages the participation of children and
the youth in the production and dissemination
of information. However, this trend should be
accompanied by adherence to ethical standards.
This also has implications in the relationship
between professional journalists and citizen
13. New Jobs and Careers for the Google
New media channels and applications also are
providing new career options for the Google
The increasing number of out-of-school children
and youth and young illiterates, kept out of school
because of poverty, can now be brought back in
the education loop through alternative learning
systems (ALS) and alternative delivery modes
(ADM) using ICT-based tools. Schooling is no longer
the only option to get an education, as one can
pursue lifelong learning with the home, workplace,
worship place, and community centers as venues
for education.
The school system can use ADM for children and
young people such as street children, working
children, the physically disadvantaged, etc., who
cannot go through the traditional classroom
setting. ADM is also ideal in communities affected
by natural and man-made calamities such as
conflict situations.
Most ALS and ADM interventions use
communication media channels, such as radio and
computers, for online learning.
15. Media and Information Literacy as Basic
Competencies in the 21st century
“Media and information literacy” refers to a
teaching and learning process and application of
critical thinking to receiving and producing mass
communication media. This implies knowledge
of personal and social values, responsibilities
relating to the ethical use of information, as
well as participation in cultural dialogue and
the maintenance of autonomy in a context
where influences eroding that autonomy may
be particularly subtle. Media and information
literacy may be summed up as being centered on
five core competencies, referred to as the “5Cs”:
comprehension, critical thinking, creativity, crosscultural awareness, and citizenship.
“Media literacy is generally defined as the ability to
access the media, to understand and to critically
evaluate different aspects of the media and media
contents and to create communications in a variety
of contexts. This definition has been validated by
a large majority of the respondents to the public
consultation and by the members of the Media
Literacy Expert Group.” (European Network on
Information Literacy website)
“Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to
education. It provides a framework to access,
analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety
of forms — from print to video to the Internet.
Media literacy builds an understanding of the role
of media in society as well as essential skills of
inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of
a democracy.” (Centre for Media Literacy website)
In teaching media and information literacy,
teachers focus on engaging critically with
information, developing analytical, organizational
and evaluative skills, and problem solving and
communication. They focus on the competencies
that underlie intentional learning and that will allow
critical engagement with future media content and
form and emerging information and communication
media technology is a double-edged sword which
can be used either to serve the common good or
to protect the interests of a few. Communication
technology does not take its own course. There
are determinant factors, such as communication
policies (of government and business), economic
climate (e.g., cost determines access to
technology), political ideology (press freedom),
and democratic pluralism (role of civil society,
etc.). The presence or absence of specific policy
and program “interventions” will determine the
impact of communication technology on our
children’s lives within the next two decades. Longterm consequences can be observed in these
areas: individual privacy; family and community
relations; lifestyles and workstyles; socioeconomic
productivity; social equity (e.g., access to basic
education and literacy, health, nutrition, other
social services); culture, values and national
identity; culture of peace; and political participation
or democratic pluralism (see Table 1).
On the other hand, interventions needed are
viewed as supportive of the common good and
facilitative of the attainment and sustainability
of children’s rights (see Table 2 for summary of
these interventions and Part V of this Report for a
detailed discussion).
Table 3 describes the environment of the Filipino
child likely to develop within the next few years
with and without these interventions. The scenario
likely to happen with interventions constitutes our
desired scenario.
Scenario for the YouTube
Communication media technology will continue
to dominate political, economic and socio-cultural
development. We are moving into the Knowledge
Society, although no one can adequately describe
its contours because of rapid and continuing
technological changes. But the basic question
remains: Will the new technologies lead to a better
quality of life for our children?
As previous analyses of trends indicate, the
impact of technological development could go
either way – positive or negative. Communication
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Table 1. Selected Megatrends in Communication Media and Their Impact
Technology (Format)
Impact Areas*
Transborder flow of information
Multimedia convergence (including
mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures)
Family and community relations
(especially diaspora communities)
Cultural homogenization or cultural
Channel explosion
Technology and delivery of
social services (education, health,
nutrition, etc.)
Demassification and
decentralization of media
(alternative media)
Workstyles, e.g., outsourcing,
Digital divide
Mobile sociality or solitary mobility
Access to technology and information
Information explosion
Culture, values and national identity
Niche programming
Cultural homogenization or cultural
Emergence of visual culture
User-generated content, including
peer-to-peer sharing
Creative expressions
Privacy or Tell-All Society
Copyright and public domain information
Children and youth as dominant media
producers and consumers
Creative expressions
Citizen journalism
Media and information literacy as
basic competencies
Women-empowering media
Alternative learning systems/
alternative delivery modes
Freedom of expression and
other forms of political participation
Multimedia career options for children
and youth
* as they affect comprehensive child development
Table II. Selected Megatrends in Communication Media and Proposed Policy and Program Interventions
Policy/ Program Interventions
Information and channel explosion
Use of mother tongue as language of learning and social interaction
Right to Information Act
Promotion of public domain information and free and open source software
Public online networking subsidy
Institutionalization of distance education
Human resource development for curriculum developers and other facilitators of
Conversion of government broadcast networks into a PBS
Department of ICT
Community e-Centers (telecenters)
Niche programming (specialized channels)
Distance education (including tele-medicine)
Human resource development for planners of media programs for children
Demassification and decentralization
of mass media
Community Media Incentives Act
Community-based broadcasting
Regional communication resource centers
Community e-Centers
Interactive media and convergence
of technology
Department of ICT
Children and youth as dominant
media audience/user
Media and information literacy in formal and nonformal education
Child rights sensitivity programming
Development of multimedia content for children
Women empowering media
Gender-sensitivity programs for media
Review and updating of women-related provisions of codes of ethics
Continuing rise of NGOs
Alternative Broadcast Program Development Fund
Media relations and advocacy training
Media watch (monitoring)
Policy and program advocacy campaigns
Alternative Broadcast Program Development Fund
Media Education through guidelines, rather than outright censorship
Communication Technology Planning and Evaluation Commission
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Table III. Findings and Recommendations: Communication Technology
Positive Trends
Program/Policy Options
Information and channel explosion
Digitized newsroom
Public online networking subsidy
Demassification of media
Multimedia applications in lifestyle,
workstyle, family and community relations,
political participation, etc.
Community e-Centers
Specialized channels and
niche programming
Expansion of computerization program
in all schools (especially public)
Women in media empowerment
Interactive multimedia channels where
media users (audience) co-create product
and services they need rather than
depend on market supply
Promotion of public domain information
and free and open source software
Increase in the number of children’s
Specialized channels and programming for
special sectors
Institutionalization of distance
Re-skilling and re-tooling of computer
and telecommunication
literate workforce
Universal computer literacy
Human resource development for
planners for media programs for
children, curriculum developers and
other facilitators of learning
Interactive multimedia technology
Communication and information as
“new age” profession; specialization
further diversifies jobs
Emergence of small to “mega”
enterprises arising from
telecommunications, computer and
multimedia revolutions
“Digitization” of government offices,
business establishments, hospitals,
banks, etc.
Global mass media complemented by
community media
Convergence of technology using wireless
Conversion of government broadcast
network into a Public Broadcasting
Creation of a Department of ICT
Free flow and accessible information
Negative Trends
Urban and elite concentration of
communication technology leading
to lack of access by marginalized
sectors (rural populace, urban/
rural poor, etc.)
Overdependence on technology
in the workplace, home, leisure, etc.
Excessive competition among growing
number of actors in mass media and
telecommunications sector.
Dominance of sex and violence in media
Excessive commercialism and
consumerism of media content
Slow pace in the indigenization of
mass media and other cultural products,
compared with onslaught of global
(western) cultural products.
Computer or techno-illiterate and
technophobic populace
Inequitable economic and political
structure between techno-poor and
techno-rich societies
Program/Policy Options
Expansion of Community e-Centers
Expansion of community-based
Media and information literacy in formal
and non-formal education
Excessive commercialism and materialism
in the global and national (local) mass
Policies on socio-cultural aspects of
mass media and information
Information wars or extreme competition
for information
A comprehensive policy framework
especially on new information technology
and cable TV
Global cultural homogenization
Monitoring and greater citizens vigilance
on excessive sex and violence on media
Competition will force small players to
close down
Policies on “rationing” of information
highways and redesigning of rules both
for commercial markets and informationpoor communities
Policy on use of filter software in various
Laws on protection of children and
women against cyber crimes, e.g.,
pornography, trafficking
Restructuring of the National Council
for Children’s Television into National
Council for Children’s Media
Policy on use of mother tongue as
language of learning and social
Policy and Program Agenda
The time frame for the proposed policy and action
agenda coincides with the development planning
cycle of the national government and the UN
system in the Philippines. The current MediumTerm Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) ends
in 2010 and its successor plan will be for 20112016. The country programs of the World Bank and
various UN agencies in the Philippines, including
UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNESCO, have agreed to
adopt this timetable.
It is hoped that some of the proposals included
in this paper can be integrated in the succeeding
MTPDP and country programs.
Immediate (Short-Term) Agenda (2009-2011)
Executive Action
Public Online Networking and
Community e-Centers
To democratize access to online (global)
information networking, the national
government (through the CICT) and
local government units should expand
but, at the same time, rationalize the
introduction of Community e-Centers
(telecenters) nationwide. Community
e-Centers have the potential to serve
as channels for producing, sharing and
disseminating content on child rights
and other child-related concerns. CeC
operations have to be rationalized in
terms of the following: local content
development, capability building for CeC
staff, and adoption and implementation
of manual of operations and business
Private Sector Involvement in Internet
It has been suggested that a
certain portion of income taxes of
telecommunications companies should
not be turned over to the government
but instead be converted into units of
CeCs (Lallana, 2009). Telcos will deploy
and manage the CeCs in marginalized
communities similar to the SAS model
adopted in the 1990s. But unlike SAS,
telcos will not roll out voice but Internet
service only. Telcos will develop a
business model suitable for CeCs and
determine the best technology option to
roll out.
Alternative Content Development Fund
Production costs for quality alternative
programming is prohibitive, especially
for independent and non-commercial
producers. At the same time, revenues
for such programs are not always
adequate to cover costs.
Necessary to balance the influence of
commercialism on mainstream media,
alternative content is intended for both
multimedia platforms and the broadcast
industry. Content development initiatives
should be given priority support vis-à-vis
infrastructure development and capability
building (training). Content development
should focus on the use of public domain
information, open content and open
source software.
A common concern of Community
e-Centers is the lack of access to content
produced by development agencies
from government and other sectors.
Developing content is also constrained by
the dominance of proprietary materials.
To encourage groups to continue
producing alternative (content) programs,
the government, in cooperation with
the private sector, may provide either
seed money or a counterpart fund for
these independent products. Such
a development fund may be needed
until the appropriate environment for
alternative programming is established
or, in the case of broadcasting, a Public
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
converted into a Public Broadcasting
System with education as one of its major
Broadcasting System (PBS) is set up and
becomes the regular channel for the
airing of alternative programs.
The proposed development fund for
broadcasting may be managed by the
National Commission on Culture and the
Arts (NCCA) through its Broadcast Arts
Committee or the Cultural Center for the
Philippines (CCP). For e-content, the CICT
shall take the lead.
Considering that children and the youth
constitute the bulk of media users, a
sustained and systematic media and
information literacy program should be
instituted in all elementary and high
schools. Media and information literacy
develops critical awareness among
media users of the value and quality of
media programs. It will enable users to
identify media content which not only is
of technical quality, but more important,
helps develop appropriate values and
behavior. Media and information literacy
also includes enabling children and young
adults to become socially responsible and
ethical media producers.
Institutionalization of Distance
Various options can be identified to
institutionalize distance education.
Some do not need enabling legislation to
facilitate the process.
First, universities and colleges should be
encouraged to offer distance education
similar to the UP Open University
Program. But our schools should first
invest in workforce training, self-learning
module development, multimedia
planning and production, monitoring and
evaluation, etc. Some of them own and
operate radio stations which could serve
as the main learning delivery channel.
Because of the high cost of investment
involved in distance education (especially
with the use of broadcast, on-line
computers, and telecom services),
universities or colleges may opt to enter
into consortium, joint programs, and the
More cable channels should be
encouraged to offer educational
broadcasting. Cable TV owners and
their associations can closely link with
academic institutions for a resourcesharing scheme.
Distance education can be further
boosted if the government broadcast
network (especially NBN Channel 4) is
Media and Information Literacy
Program in Schools
Media literacy should empower children
and the youth to demand or advocate for
and produce content or programs which
will promote their total development and
meet their social, cultural, political and
spiritual needs.
Community Learning Centers in
Marginalized Communities
Community learning centers (CLCs) can
complement existing public schools by
providing print and audiovisual materials.
At present, the Bureau of Alternative
Learning System (BALS) with LGUs has
been setting up CLCs for out-of-school
children, youth and even non-literate
Promotion of Public Domain Information
and Free and Open Source Software
The CICT should adopt a program which
will promote the use of public domain
information (PDI) particularly those
child abuse materials using various
media formats.
related to child development and child
rights. This program will complement
the government’s aggressive promotion
of respect for copyright and other
proprietary rights under the aegis of the
Intellectual Property Office. Related to the
promotion of PDI is the promotion of free
and open source software (FOSS).
Universal Internet Access Policy
The Philippines should adopt a Universal
Internet Access Policy consistent with the
WSIS goal of providing easy, affordable,
and usable access to information
goods and services that promote a
just, democratic and inclusive society.
Toward this end, we should also support
the adoption of a “Broadband Bill of
Rights” as proposed by the Center for
Digital Democracy or CDC (see http://
html) which includes the following
ten principles: choice (open access
regulations), non-discrimination, privacy,
open systems, interoperability, public
interest obligations, civic content,
educational opportunities, children’s
programming, and digital divide.
Legislative Action
These bills recognize that the advent of
ICT has abetted pornography through new
platforms such as mobile phones and
digital cameras, pirated VCDs and DVDs,
etc. The Internet further has facilitated
the speedy production, possession and
distribution of pornographic photos and
Proposed Laws on Child Pornography
and Cyber Crimes
The Philippines being a state party to
both the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) and the Optional Protocol
to the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution and Child Pornography
should immediately pass an anti-child
pornography law. There are several bills
filed in both houses of Congress defining
what constitutes child pornography and
Proposed Laws to Curb Sex and
Violence in Mass Media, Cable TV, and
Several bills have been filed in both
houses of Congress that seek to limit
excessive sex and violence in media
and advertising. For example, Senate
Bill 1351 seeks to limit exposure of
children to violent programming on TV
and cable system, while Senate Bill 2539
seeks to penalize advertising and media
companies which exploit women and
glorify sexual violence in advertisements.
Senate Bill 2345 prohibits the public
exhibition or display of obscene and/or
distractive motion or still pictures along
major thoroughfares.
Amendment to the National Council for
Children’s Television Mandate
The Council’s present mandate has been
limited to television. With technological
convergence and growing preference for
new media channels among children,
there is a need to amend the coverage
of the law creating NCCTV. The aim is
not for the Council to “regulate” new
media channels but rather to promote
the use of new media as platforms for
child development and child participation
through an appropriate incentive system.
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
There is need for legislation related to the
protection of privacy or a comprehensive
data protection law that governs the
collection, use and dissemination of
personal information by both the public
and private sectors
Creation of a Department of Information
and Communications Technology (DICT)
Existing executive offices in charge of
communication/ information technology
are engrossed in regulation and execution
of policies, with very limited resources
and efforts for long-range planning.
The legislative branch (Congress), on
the other hand, tends to develop laws
with limited perspective (as they can
be amended and replaced anyway).
Considering that information and
communication technology will be the
driving force for economic growth in the
21st century, adequate attention should
be focused on how best to plan for the
use of new communication technology for
The proposed DICT should be part of
the priority legislative agenda. The
Department will focus on “cuttingedge issues” or those which impact
on the setting up and utilization of the
information superhighway. Among
these issues are ownership, regulatory
framework, technology convergence,
transborder information flow, technology
transfer, globalization and national
Another important function of the
proposed Department is rationalization of
technology transfer and monitoring and
evaluation. The Department is envisioned
to conduct technology assessment,
including socio-cultural impact
assessment, in addition to economic and
technological considerations. This means
that the Department’s membership
should be multidisciplinary.
Enactment of Privacy Law
Conversion of the Government Media
Network into a Public Broadcasting
System (PBS)
A Public Broadcasting System (PBS)
addresses the problem of high costs
on investment in media infrastructure
and provides the venue for sociallyoriented programs which do not have
much commercial value. The envisioned
system will consist of the TV network
(National Broadcasting Network) and a
few radio stations (now under the Public
Broadcasting System).
There have been efforts in the previous
Congress to convert NBN into a PBS.
However, the national government has
opted to transform it into a government
corporation instead. Several reasons
were mentioned for this decision,
foremost of which is that the government
needs a strong information channel to
reach out to the entire country for political
stability. There is also fear that PBS is not
financially viable.
What is needed is an independent and
alternative channel. A governmentowned and controlled network may not
be able to adequately reflect the views
and provide the information needs of
the public and sectoral interest groups,
as its responsibility is to first present the
government’s stance.
But the long-term viability of a PBS
needs further study in light of the
communication technology revolution.
There may be a need to “re-engineer” the
structure of the traditional “monolithic”
PBS and adopt the community-based
broadcasting (CBB) concept. The
national network is “demassified” or
“decentralized” into a local PBS for
more localized alternative programming
expression and privacy of individuals
including children. Guidelines should not
lead to curtailment of creative expression
by children.
through UHF, VHF and even cable
systems. New technologies can link
these community-based stations with
each other and to national and even
global media, thus eliminating the danger
of parochialism in content and outlook.
The use of filtering or blocking software
for Internet sites that contain unwanted
content for children may be explored by
schools, homes, and even public Internet
cafes. However, no blocking system
is foolproof, as even computer savvy
children can find codes to break through
The Role of Family and Community
Parents as Responsible Internet Users
Parents and other adults can only “guide”
their children on responsible Internet
use if they themselves have adequate
digital literacy. Parents who are computer
literate are more likely to encourage
their children to enhance their IT skills
and reap the benefits of the Internet.
Parents and adults should endeavor to
continuously upgrade their own digital
Adults should be reminded that when
they create Friendster accounts for their
underage children/siblings, they are
teaching them to lie. (Note: Children
must be at least 18 years old to have a
Friendster account.) They should also be
encouraged to check the websites that
their children visit and be aware of the
people that their children communicate
with online.
Reasonable Guidelines on the Use of
the Internet
Rule or guidelines on responsible use
of the Internet can be agreed upon by
parents (guardians) and children. For
example, families can be encouraged to
place computers in shared rooms (such
as living rooms, dining rooms, offices
or libraries), where children will not be
isolated and will use the Internet with
others around them. Also, schools and
parents should teach children never
to share personal information (name,
address, telephone) online.
Parental “control” may still be a key
in keeping very young children safe
on the Internet. Parents, especially of
elementary children, can impose time
limitation and websites that can be visited
by their children especially in home
Internet use.
Responsible Social Networking
Use of Filter Software
Parents and guardians should consider
the use of filter software that can protect
children and young people from stumbling
over or deliberately accessing harmful,
illegal and inappropriate websites and
online content. Filter software could be
installed at the following locations: enduser’s PC, local server, Internet Service
Provider, and proxy server-based Internet
filtering service. According to the Youth
Protection Roundtable Toolkit (YPRT), filter
software is estimated to block about half
of all websites with age inappropriate
and violent content and slightly higher
effectiveness for illegal content.
But guidelines on Internet use should
recognize such rights as right of
Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
Non-Government Organizations
NGOs can initiate media monitoring
activities, including content analysis, to
rate or even rank media organizations
against previously set criteria. Results of
broadcast monitoring can be the basis for
the renewal of broadcast franchises.
Media Relations and Advocacy Training
Issues and concerns of NGOs and POs as
well as their views on local and national
issues are not well ventilated in media.
NGOs are generally not public relations
conscious and do not have access to
mainstream media. NGOs and POs,
especially those working for children’s
rights, need a capability-building seminarworkshop on media relations and
NGOs can also help shape media policies.
For example, the Gabriela Commission
on Children and Family has prepared
a set of guidelines for Child-Sensitive
Handling and Coverage of Children’s
Cases, especially since cases of child
prostitution, abuse, delinquency, etc.
seem to be increasing and are regarded
as “hot media items.”
Civil society organizations are no longer
limited to traditional media – print and
broadcast. New media channels have
proven to be effective platforms for
dialogue, advocacy and mobilization.
There are websites and social network
sites that can be tapped.
Media Watch, Policy and Program
Civil society organizations/ NGOs are
effective advocacy and pressure groups
in demanding quality media content or
programming. Media managers can no
longer ignore the impact of NGO lobbying
on their corporate image and market
What are some of the “doables” for
NGOs to sustain or enhance their growing
influence? NGOs can launch advocacy
campaigns for or against a media policy,
content/ programming, personality,
etc. which they think are inimical to the
common good and the rights of the child
in particular. NGOs have built a track
record of success in such activities.
NGOs should keep track of the legislative
agenda of both houses of Congress,
including those related to children and
communication media.
Promotion of Public Domain Information
NGOs and other sectors should support
efforts in promoting pubic domain
information and free and open source
software discussed earlier.
Mass Media Sector
Child Rights-Sensitive Programming
Media owners, producers and performers
should be more sensitive to children’s
rights, as the media audience is now
predominantly children and the youth.
Sensitivity means not only providing
more children-oriented programs but,
more important, being sensitive in using
language and visual images.
Aside from increasing CRC-related
programs or content, media should also
broaden access and participation of
children and youth in various aspects of
planning and programming. Sensitivity
must also include protecting the rights
of young media personalities who are
engaged in a form of child labor.
Education Sector
Research on Socio-Cultural Impact of
New Media on Children and Youth
Local research in this area remains
limited and therefore needs support and
encouragement. Among the pioneers
in studying socio-cultural impact are
McCann Erickson, UP-CMC and AIJC.
Communication research agencies
and schools should conduct related
research studies to generate substantial
information needed for planning and
decision making.
Other Sectors
Multimedia Content Development for
Multimedia content development for
children and by children should be
encouraged and promoted. Among the
incentives are awards to and recognition
of outstanding (child-friendly) digital
content, blogs and websites. An example
is the Animated Flash Fiction Scriptwriting
Contest of the Animation Council of the
Philippines, Inc. in cooperation with
the UNESCO National Commission of
the Philippines. Stories highlight the
following themes: Filipino freedom from
colonization, recognition of Filipino’s
cultural diversity, and promotion of the
Philippine cultural heritage.
promote positive values for children.
These programs may be produced
individually by the NGOs or co-produced
by a network of NGOs.
NGOs may be empowered to monitor and
content analyze television programs to
determine the number of violent scenes
in these programs. TV stations would be
graded according to their use of violent
programs to attract audiences. The
ranking should influence the renewal of
licenses of TV stations.
In the US, Violence Watch has been
organized to categorize the different
instances of violence found in films, for
better evaluation. Aside from instances
of violence, other categorized caveats
for young viewers include the following:
scenes showing the use of drugs and
alcohol; sex and nudity; profanities; and
inordinately scary scenes.
Media and information literacy lessons
should be integrated in relevant subjects
or courses from the elementary level to
college, to develop critical consciousness
among media users.
Medium-Term Agenda (2012-2016)
Program and Project Options
Role of Non-Government Organizations
NGOs, particularly those with media
production capabilities, should seriously
consider producing alternative broadcast
materials (audio and video tapes) which
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the Future of Filipino Children
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Communication Media and
the Future of Filipino Children
The Partners
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Asian Institute of Journalism and
Communication (AIJC)
The Asian Institute of Journalism and
Communication is one of the leading
communication institutions in the country, making
significant contributions in generating and
sharing new knowledge in communication and
development. It helps build desired communication
environments, not only by providing training
for communicators and journalists, but also by
advocating policies and programs consistent with
its philosophy of communication as a development
AIJC is a non-stock, non-profit organization
committed to the management and utilization
of information and communication for national
development. Organized in 1980, the Institute was
first envisioned to provide a journalism school for a
new breed of journalists in the Philippines and Asia
who are able to address development issues and
concerns while remaining committed to the tenets
of press freedom.
The Institute offers a graduate studies program
for degrees in Master in Communication
Management and Master in Journalism and is
engaged in research and consultancy, professional
development and continuing education (including
online courses), development communication
planning and management, and editorial and
multimedia services.
Its consultancy outputs have been incorporated
in milestone documents and institutionalized
in development programs, including the 1987
Philippine Constitution, Supreme Court Blueprint
for Action on Judicial Reform, Action Program for
Judicial Reform, Philippine Agenda 21, Education
for All Program, Literacy Coordinating Council
Blueprint for Action, Country Program for Children,
Philippines-UNESCO Country Program
Document 2009-2011, and communication plans
of various sustainable development programs.
5/F iCollege Bldg.
2244 España Ave.
Annapolis Wilshire Plaza
11 Annapolis St., Greenhills, San Juan
724-4564, 740-0396
[email protected]
Development Issues and Trends
The Expert-Writers
Dr. Carmen A. Abubakar is professor at the
Institute of Islamic Studies, University of the
Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. She has served
the Institute as Dean.
Alicia R. Bala is Undersecretary for Policy and
Programs, Department of Social Welfare and
Development. She also sits as Chairperson,
National Committee on the Filipino Family (NCFF)
and Chairperson, Juvenile Justice and Welfare
Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan is professor of
Economics, University of the Philippines-Diliman.
He has served as Director, Southeast Asian
Ministers of Education Organization-Southeast
Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and
Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO-SEARCA) and
Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture.
Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid, President
Emeritus of the Asian Institute of Journalism
and Communication (AIJC), is also Chair,
UNESCO National Commission of the
Philippines–Communication Committee. She
was Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional
Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan, a medical doctor, is
former Secretary of the Department of Health. He
is professor, University of the Philippines College of
Medicine, Department of Family and Community
Medicine and President, Health Futures Foundation
Dr. Cielito F. Habito is Director, Center for
Economic Research and Development, Ateneo de
Manila University and former Director General,
National Economic and Development Authority
Dr. Emil Q. Javier was a professor of agronomy and
plant breeding at UP Los Baños, President of the
University of the Philippines, and Cabinet Minister
for Science and Technology. He is presently the
President of the National Academy of Science and
Dr. Trinidad S. Osteria is President of the
Yuchengco Center, an education and research
center based at De La Salle University. She was
Director of the DLSU Social Development Research
Center and UNFPA Regional Adviser for East and
Southeast Asia.
Dr. Ernesto M. Pernia, professor of Economics
at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, has
served as Lead Economist, Asian Development
Bank and Regional Adviser, International Labour
Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea is professor of Philippine
Studies at the Asian Center, University of the
Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City and was
Director of the university’s Center for Women’s
Dr. Mercedita A. Sombilla is Manager, Research
and Development Department of the Southeast
Asian Ministers of Education OrganizationSoutheast Asian Regional Center for Graduate
Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEOSEARCA).
Dr. Minda C. Sutaria, before she passed away
in December 2009, was Consultant (and former
Director) of the Southeast Asian Ministers of
Education Organization Regional Center for
Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEOINNOTECH). She had served as Undersecretary of
Rizza M. Trumata is Economic Development
Specialist II, Environment Services Division,
National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Ramon R. Tuazon is President of the Asian Institute
of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and sits
as Chair, Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
Technical Panel for Communication, Journalism
and Broadcasting.
Myrna M. Velasco is a journalist who covers the
energy beat for Manila Bulletin. She is author of
two books, Surviving A Power Crisis: The Philippine
Experience and Energy Guidebook for the
Philippine Media.
Dr. Wilfrido V. Villacorta, Professor Emeritus of
De La Salle University, is former Deputy SecretaryGeneral, Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN). As Delegate to the 1986 Constitutional
Commission, he authored the constitutional
provision on the rights of children.
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Department of Energy, is President and Chief
Executive Officer of Trans-Asia Oil and Energy
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