Lunes, Oktubre 24, 2011

Feature: The Philippines, the United Nations, and the Millennium Development Goals

World War II (WWII) is one of the most trying and also one of the most significant events in history because of its aftermath which has, ironically yet serendipitously, brought countries all throughout the world to unite toward world peace. 

The Philippines was not alien to the vestiges of WWII as its primary city, Manila, was the second most devastated city in the world, next only to Warsaw in Poland. As such, it was no surprise that the Philippines was not indifferent to such show of global concern.

In 1945, the Philippines together with 50 other countries signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, USA, with commitments of “maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.” (

This international organization replaced the League of Nations which was said to have “failed” in its job of preventing another world war. As of now, there are already 193 member states, with the addition of its newest member, South Sudan, in July 2011. With its 17 specialized agencies, the work of the United Nations has reached every nook and cranny of the globe not only for its peacekeeping mandate, but also for its broad range of tasks that are ultimately aimed at achieving sustainable development in various respects such as social, cultural, environmental, health, and economic.

The passing of time since the inception of the United Nations has seen countless developments among its member nations. And in September of 2000, 189 UN member-countries reaffirmed their commitment to the very goals and objectives of the UN through the adoption of the Millennium Declaration (MD), thus, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

All in all, there are eight MDGs which the Philippines is targetting to achieve in another four years, and they have been formulated in a way that they are measurable, quantifiable and realistic. As stipulated, the eight goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

These goals have 21 targets which are quantified through indicators set as benchmarks for measuring the country’s progress until these goals are finally achieved in its target year—2015: 

“Containing commitments to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals or MDGs (and the specific targets under them) by 2015, the declaration reflects the vision of entire nations, working together with international and country-based organizations, to wipe out poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation, and lay the foundations for sustainable human development by the year 2015.” (

Since the apodtion of the MD in 2000, the Philippines has achieved progress towards attaining the MDGs, particularly in terms of gender equality, reducing child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Today, as the world celebrates United Nations Day (pursuant to Proclamation No. 483) as October 24 was the actual signing of the founding member countries of the UN, the Philippines is also made to remember and put into conscious action the goals of the UN.

The UN Week 2011 is also an acknowledgment of the programs of the government that have worked their way to the realization of the MDGs and the national goal of overall progress. With the government’s numerous development and support programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s), Pantawid Pasada Program, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), the K-12, National Greening Program, Convergence Program, etc.—all under the long-term Philippine Development Plan—we are on the right track in attaining the MDG’s.

With this, the UN fully supports efforts of the to attain the MDGs by 2015, and realize the vision of sustainable human development which will be evident in the lives of people and felt across continents, among nations, within communities, and among all Filipinos.

Martes, Oktubre 18, 2011

Feature: Children empowerment in a child-friendly society

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) delineates the rights of children which include the following: the right to express their opinions, and have their opinions and calls acted upon; the right to peaceful assembly and to be protected from abuse or exploitation; and the right to have their privacy protected. 

The Philippines, a democratic country and a member of the United Nations, is a signatory of the UNCRC, and as such, promotes the welfare and rights of children in all aspects -- civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural. Such participation and active promotion of children’s welfare is in harmony with Section 13, Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) of the Philippine Constitution, which states: “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”

In a resarch commissioned by the CWC through the National Committee for Child and Youth Participation (NCCYP), children who have been allowed to actively participate in family and civic matters are more likely to be more confident in decision-making and in leadership roles. These children with more meaningful involvement become more of “achievers”.

The NCCYP-commissioned study entitled “Case Studies on Child Participation in the Philippines” conducted by Dr. Henry R. Ruiz yielded some of the noteworthy findings/conclusions:

1.   The children and youth participation (CYP) in various activities in their own community-based associations and in various undertakings initiated by their respective sponsor agencies has been able to create affirmative and encouraging impact among children. These were clearly illustrated in terms of changes in personality, attitude and behavior, relationship with family, friends, peers, adults and with the community as a whole.
2.   More specifically, CYP has been able to create changes in children’s level of awareness of their rights, expressive skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and desirable social behavior. The children’s responses demonstrated strong emphasis on development and enhancement of their social-orientation and social skills. CYP had a positive impact not only on children but also on their parents, teachers, community leaders and agency workers.
3.   Because of these changes, the children said they were more in a position now to protect themselves from potential abuse or exploitation. 

These results reflect the importance of giving children the opportunity to be active participants in family and community-based endeavors as this develops the person’s character and well-being.

The government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and its attached agency-- the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), is in the forefront in building a society that recognizes the worth of children and the youth in nation-building. 

Programs such as the “Zero Streetchildren in Ten Priority areas in Metro Manila”, Local Council for the Protection of Children, “Bright Child”, and laws such as the Juvenile Law are all in consideration of the welfare of the youth who are aptly labeled “hope of the nation”.

The month of October is also National Children’s Month and the celebration is a reminder of the rights of children to positive filial and socio-civic participation. This year’s theme “Local Council for the Protection of Children para sa Bright Child: Pakilusin, Palakasin, Pagtulungan Natin!” also calls for the combined efforts of the local government units to protect and empower children.

Earlier, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has called on local government units to create a child-friendly society in celebration of National Children's Month. DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo lauded Proclamation No. 267, describing the observance of National Children's Month as "recognition of Filipino children as the most valuable assets of the nation and their vital role in nation-building.”
This year’s celebration is filled with various activities for children. Some of which are seminars, film-showings, productions, competitions, etc. that hope to enrich the child’s intellectual, emotional, and social experience. 

The Museo Pambata (MP) will also hold an arts festival on Oct. 29 where kids can learn more about their rights and responsibilities. The MP Children's Arts Fest 2011, with theme “Dahil Siya ay Bata: Kakampi ang Komunidad sa Pagsulong ng Karapatang Pambata,” aims to advocate children's rights and encourage understanding through learning booths.

There will also be a “Forum Para Sa Mga Bata: “Palakasin, LCPC Ko” on October 24, as well as Cine Pambata Film Festival on 22-23 Oct. (w/ National Council for Children’s Television) which would include theater workshops, theater plays, and film showings. 

Lunes, Oktubre 17, 2011

Feature: Int’l Poverty Eradication Celebration vis-à-vis Philippine Dev’t Plan

In a 2011 survey of the world’s happiest countries by the foreign-based Happy Planet Index, the Philippines was among the 15 happiest nations based on life satisfaction, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. The result shows a positive mindset among the Filipinos, even for those with below to minimum monthly income.

In a study released in February 2011 by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines ranked fourth in terms of poverty incidence in population among ASEAN countries. The Philippines is behind Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, but better off than Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The study showed poverty trend in the country during a three-year period (2006-2009).

The study also showed improvement in the subsistence incidence among families -- from 8.7% in 2006 to 7.9% in 2009. One family per 100 was lifted out of food poverty between 2006 and 2009. In terms of poverty incidence among families, there was only a slight reduction during the three-year period – from 21.1% in 2006 to 20.9% in 2009. Subsistence incidence among population improved – from 11.7% in 2006 to 10.8% in 2009.

However, a total of 23.1 million of Filipinos  are still subsisting on below 2 U. S. dollars per day. This figure is considered among the highest in Southeast Asia.
NSCB Secretary General Romulo A. Virola estimates that the government needs to reduce poverty incidence by 2 percentage points every year to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of slashing poverty incidence by half in 2015.
Poverty has always been a recurrent issue not only in the Philippines but in other developing countries as well. Every civilization has, one way or another, encountered economic problems, poverty included.  Poverty could actually inspire a nation to work towards progress. It could also lead a country to turmoil leading to worse economic conditions.
Today is the celebration of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. With the theme “Only a Development That Includes Everyone is Sustainable”, the Filipinos are reminded that collaborative effort of the government, private entities, and the public is the key to eradicating poverty.
In recent times, the government’s poverty reduction programs have seen action as the government aims to have achieved the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan by 2016.
The government’s centerpiece anti-poverty strategy is the Pantawid Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). The program aims to provide financial assistance to Filipino indigents—the poorest of the poor—while also making sure that the benefeciaries comply with the conditions of the program which require health, education, and family consciousness and responsibility among family members.
The current total number of household-beneficiaries is already around 2.4 million. The government is targeting 4.7 million beneficiaries in 2016. This anti-poverty program has been implemented by the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), with tie-ups with the Department of Health, Department of Education. This strategy is hoped to become an effective means for the poor to improve their quality of living and work towards a sustainable economic upgrade.

The CCT is just among the programs that the government has been implementing to achieve a poverty-free country. Generation of jobs, throught the Department of Labor and Employment, and skills training by the TESDA are also endeavors done hand-in-hand by the Philippine government to make its way toward development.

With an optimistic mindset and a nation which synergizes government efforts, private-enterprise assistance, and public cooperation, the reminder of October 17 being International Day for the Eradication of Poverty becomes not only a once-in-a-year commemoration but an ongoing anti-poverty endeavor that will reap its fruits in due time. 

Phl, UST host int’l conference on Ethics in S&T

As man evolves, so does his ethical standards and value system.

“Change and evolution of ethics and its principles make or unmake the internal value system of man. Man’s ethics swings between what is deemed the past, and what is consensually considered contemporary. Ethical norms do not only differ, they evolve.” (

This is what lectures of experts from across Europe, and Asia and the Pacific will center on as Asia’s oldest higher bastion of learning—the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas—hosts “Global Conference on Ethics in Science and Technology” on October 20 to 22 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC).

The goals of the conference are:
  • To provide a platform for the discussion of ethical issues and concerns in the development and application of the new fields of science and technology, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology.
  • To stimulate research on the ethical, political, social and cultural implications of the new developments in science and technology.
  • To increase awareness on the importance of ethical considerations in the conduct of research and development work in science and technology, as they affect society and shared security.

Plenary speakers include world-renowned Prof. Yuan Tseh Lee, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and recently elected President of the International Council of Scientific Unions, and H.E. Most Rev. Msgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences.

Points of discussion include Bioethics and Genomics, Info-ethics, Ethics of Communication and Social Media, Climate Ethics, Nanoethics, Publication Ethics and Research Integrity and Ethics Education in Science and Engineering.

Among the prominent list of invited speakers include Daryl R. J. Macer (Eubios Ethics Institute), Johan Hattingh (Stellenbosch University), Clive Hamilton (Charles Sturt University), Joachim Schummer (University of Karlsruhe), John Weckert (Charles Sturt University), Elizabeth Wager (COPE, United Kingdom), Cameron Richards (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia), Syun Tutiya (National Institution of for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation, Japan), Tom Borsen (Aalborg University), Guido Van Steendam (Catholic University of Leuven), Msgr. Paul Tighe (Pontifical Council for Social Communication), William Torres (National Academy of Science and Technology) and Marita VT. Reyes (Philippine Health Research Ethics Board) and Damian Mapa of Microsoft, Philippines.

This Global Conference is supported by the ASEAN Foundation, UNESCO National; Commission of the Philippines and PCIEERD-DOST.

The conference is jointly organized by the UST Graduate School and the UST Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy and is part of the Quadricentennial celebration of the University of Santo Tomas.