From InterAksyon (Jul 29): Conflict, infra lack pull down quality of life in Mindanao, UN report says
The quality of life in nine Mindanao provinces, including those pestered with armed rebellion, was the worst in the Philippines, indicating that conflict and poverty were intertwined in Asia's fastest growing economy.
According to the latest Philippine Human Development Report, Sulu scored the lowest, with a human development index (HDI) of 0.216, followed by Maguindanao, 0.300; Tawi-Tawi, 0.310; Zamboanga, 0.353; Agusan del Sur, 0.354; Davao Oriental, 0.356; Sarangani, 0.371; Zamboanga del Norte, 0.384; and Lanao del Sur, 0.416.
Most of the 10 lowest-ranked provinces are conflict-ridden.
The report said Sulu's HDI was almost as bad as those of the African countries of Niger (0.261), Democratic Republic of Congo (0.239), and Zimbabwe (0.140) -- all cellar-dwellers in terms of human development.
The HDI is a measure of human development, averaging three basic dimensions: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. Ideally, the HDI should be close to one.
Luzon dominated the top performing provinces as follows: Benguet, 0.849; Batanes, 0.789; Rizal, 0.734; Cavite, 0.709; Bulacan, 0.699; Bataan, 0.698; Laguna, 0.695; Nueva Viscaya, 0.678; Ilocos Norte, 0.641; and Pampanga, 0.634.
The HDI index in Metro Manila was 0.634.
Toby Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines and principal author of the 2012/2013 Philippine Human Development Report, said the HDI performance of the provinces was "uneven."
"I think we can explain the performance of certain areas by things like conflict in Mindanao. Apart from the conflict in Mindanao, the issue has always been connective infrastructure. Facilitating the movement of goods and the people has always been an issue," Monsod said.
She said shipping goods to Mindanao is more expensive than to Hong Kong.
The report pointed out that the combined failure of national vision and denial of local responsibility, amidst the country's geographical challenges, leads to dissipation of resources that is the "divide-by-N" syndrome.
It added that the pork barrel system has institutionalized the "divide-by-N syndrome" and has brought about overlapping investments, many small projects with little or no development significance dotting towns and cities, such as waiting sheds, entrance arches and multipurpose pavements.
The results, according to the report, are duplicative infrastructure and programs in disregard of scale, synergy and the conscious integration of larger markets.
Monsod recommended that the pork barrel finance what the provinces considered priority rather than what would benefit politicians.
She said linkages between leading and lagging areas are more important than trying to put a factory in every province that does not work.
Reacting to the report, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Baliscan said updating the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 would help the government to better align local and national development plans.
"This is critical if short-and medium-term gains are to take root and carry the country forward into the longer term," he said.
Baliscan said the remaining three years of the Aquino administration will focus on creating more quality jobs and reduce poverty close to the target of the Millennium Development Goals.
Toshihiro Tanaka, country director of United Nations Development Programme said the report could "unveil solutions to the issue of rising inequality and disparity of urban and rural areas."
Overall, the HDI of the Philippines is 0.654. Average life expectancy is 69 years, mean years of schooling, 8.9 years; expected years of schooling, 11.7 years; and gross national income per capita, $3,752.
The country ranked 114th out of 187 countries in the UN report. The Philippines' gross domestic product however grew 7.8 percent in the first quarter, making it Asia's fastest.
The delegation was sent by the MILF Central Committee and headed by MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal and included Peace Panel member Prof. Abhoud Sayed Lingga, Ustadz Ibrahim Ali of the Transition Commission (TC) and Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, MILF TWG member and UN Senior Advisor to FASTRAC (Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities). The visit is the first ever by a high ranking official of the MILF to the UN Office in Manila.
The visit is just a part of the wide range of partnerships that the UN and World Bank currently have with the MILF, the TC and the Peace Panel as outlined in the FASTRAC.
The delegation was received by Mr. Praveen Agrawal, Acting UN Resident Coordinator and World Food Program Country Director, and Alma Evangelista of the UNDP. A tour around the UN office was given to the delegation. Mr. Agrawal conveyed the gratitude of UN Resident Coordinator Luiza Carvalho, who is currently in Brazil, to the MILF delegation for taking time to visit the UN Office and for the fruitful partnership that it has forged with the UN.
After the brief tour, a meeting ensued with Matt Stephens and Nick Leffer of the World Bank joining. The meeting extensively discussed the next steps for the partnership given the approval of the FASTRAC workplan by the Consultative Committee last July 29. The MILF expressed thanks to UN and WB for the continuing partnership and the much needed technical assistance in the anticipated transitions to the Bangsamoro.
FASTRAC is a demand-driven facility established through an exchange of letters between the UN/WB and the MILF and was officially launched in Camp Darapanan last April 29, 2013. The Facility aims to deliver timely and well-sequenced technical assistance to the MILF and other stakeholders in the peace process to ensure not only a successful conclusion of the peace negotiations but also of the implementation of the same.