By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Efforts to attain the Duterte administration’s goal of lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty has gathered steam in the past three years.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista, head of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster, shared the Duterte administration’s gains in human capital development as an essential factor in socio-economic growth.
In the first half of 2018, poverty incidence has significantly dropped by 6.1 percent as compared to the same period in 2015. More Filipino families are able to meet basic food needs as subsistence incidence decreased to 6.2 percent in the first half of 2018.
The proportion of Filipino individuals considered as poor has settled at 21 percent of the country’s population, down from 27.6 percent during the same period in 2015.
Bautista attributed the substantial decrease in poverty incidence by focusing on four priority areas namely, education, health, social protection, and rural poverty.
Net enrollment rate for grades 7 to 12 has increased from 75 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2018.
For school year 2018-2019, the completion rate for elementary is 97 percent, while for junior high it is 89 percent.
In addition, the Department of Education (DepEd) has recorded at least 1.3 million graduates of senior high school.
Tertiary education has become more accessible through the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the Republic Act 10931.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) was given a budget of P40 billion in 2018 to implement the law. This amount gave about 1 million college students free tuition.
More than 260,000 were enrolled in technical-vocational education and training, majority of whom are women.
In addition, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also implements the Training for Work Scholarship Program and the Special Training for Employment Program to ensure that the students find gainful employment.
Under the feeding programs of DSWD and DepEd, 3.9 million children have been provided healthy, nutritious and locally-sourced food.
In 2018, DSWD has served some 1.7 million children in daycare centers, while DepEd provided 2.1 million undernourished learners food with high nutritional value.
Every year, 1.5 million Filipinos are pushed to poverty because of high out-of-pocket medical care expenses. The Department of Health (DOH) has implemented the medical assistance for indigents program (MAIP) to help indigent Filipinos obtain financial assistance for diagnostics, medicines, medical supplies and services.
In 2018, 1.3 million indigent patients received financial assistance through MAIP, which is higher by 15 percent compared to the 1.1 million patients recorded in 2017.
As a complement to the MAIP, DOH and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) work together to implement the point-of-care program, which seeks to provide poor Filipinos with healthcare coverage.
In 2018, 17.5 million Filipinos were enrolled in the program, compared to the 330,000 enrolled Filipinos in 2017.
In addition to the initiatives of DOH, DSWD’s assistance to individuals in crisis situations was able to cater to almost half a million individual who were in need of medical assistance, disbursing a total of P2 billion.
More than 31,000 health personnel were deployed nationwide to complement the existing local health professionals, especially in the remote areas, and municipalities with indigenous peoples.
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) served more than 4.1 million poor households. These families are given health and education grants as well as additional rice subsidy of P600 per month.
The social pension for the poor elderly is now benefitting 3.7 million indigent senior citizens. A hundred thousand pesos is also provided to elderly who reach 100 years old under the Centenarians Act.
Almost 9.5 million Filipinos have also benefitted from the unconditional cash transfer program. Each beneficiary received P2,400 in 2018 and are expected to receive P3,600 this 2019.
During times of disasters, such as typhoons and earthquakes since 2016, DSWD has delivered relief assistance to over 3.2 million households.
To protect and respect all rights at work, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) strictly enforced compliance to labor laws and standards through its Labor Inspection Program.
It also remains aggressive in its efforts to realize the President’s directive in putting an end to “endo” and other forms of illegal contracting.
This resulted in the regularization of about 470,000 workers from 2016 to 2019.
From 2016 to 2018, DOLE ensured the documentation of over 4.2 million deployed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Almost 64,000 victims of illegal recruitment were also provided with legal assistance.
On-site assistance, such as training, case management, custodial services, repatriation, and other welfare services were extended to almost 2.5 million OFWs.
Under the reintegration program, nearly 160,000 OFW-returnees and their families underwent training and or received livelihood assistance.
DOLE also implemented the integrated livelihood and emergency employment program consisting of livelihood assistance and emergency employment, as well as cash-for-work, social insurance amounting to P65,000 and free skills training to prepare them for self or wage employment.
With a budget of P8.5 billion, DOLE reached a total of 1.3 million beneficiaries. Seventy-nine percent were provided with emergency employment, while the rest were given livelihood assistance.
In 2018, they launched the Boracay Emergency Employment Program for workers affected by the closure of Boracay. Almost 25 percent of displaced workers were provided with financial assistance, training, livelihood, emergency employment, and employment facilitation services.
Complementing the efforts of DOLE, DSWD also offers the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). As of March 2019, over 600,000 households benefitted from the program through microenterprise development and employment facilitation track.
In addition, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council reported that as of May 2019, over 3.5 million individuals or almost 600,000 households have been provided with socialized and low-cost housing. This represents 98 percent of the accomplishment for the period–the highest accomplishment as compared to previous administrations.
As a result of the increased activity in the housing sector, local skilled and semi-skilled construction workers have been employed, providing additional income to almost 3.8 million individuals.
The government also reported that it has adopted a whole-of-government approach to the recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of Marawi City.
The Marawi Rise Plan underscores building resilience, capitalizing on identity, and creating a sustainable framework for development and positive evolution.
The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) implemented the Kathanor–a biometrics-based profiling of internally displaced persons. To date, at least 37,000 displaced families have been registered, which ensured that support and interventions are provided to them.
To date, almost 10,000 displaced persons or over 1,600 displaced families from evacuation centers, inside and outside Marawi City are now living in temporary shelters.
DSWD, in turn, has delivered relief and social assistance to IDPs through the provision of livelihood settlement grants from the SLP.
About P300 million of livelihood assistance were distributed to more than 19,000 IDPs.
DSWD also distributed transitory family support packages amounting to P827 million and “pabaon” packs amounting to almost P20 million.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has distributed 90,500 hectares of land to nearly 58,300 agrarian reform beneficiaries from July 2016 to March 2019.
Likewise, in response to the thrust of President Duterte in increasing food production and reducing poverty in the provinces, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has created the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), providing beneficiaries with livelihood projects and training.
As of 2019, DA served about 58,000 individuals and more than 1,000 farmer group beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, DAR has established its Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development and Sustainability Program. Over 1.5 million beneficiaries were enrolled and were given access to credit and microfinance services, technical enterprise and farm productivity support, and physical infrastructure.