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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
Ambassador Maria Lourdes V. Ramiro Lopez
Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs
Agenda Item 93: Implementation of the World Summit for Social Development and of The twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
Agenda Item 94: Social Development, including questions relating to the world social Situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
Agenda Item 95: Follow up to the International
Year of the Older Persons:
The Philippines associates itself with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
At the very outset, my delegation wishes to make the following specific observations.
We support the Secretary General’s recommendations that the Commission include the situation of older women in its agenda, and for our efforts to achieve the MDGS to consider the situation of older persons. The Philippine Congress recently granted additional benefits and privileges to senior citizens, amending the old Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation Building.
We note the call of the Secretary General in A/59/176 for Governments to establish three institutional pillars in integrating family issues into national development policies. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued last April a Presidential Proclamation directing the National Committee on the Filipino Family to coordinate the observance of the International Year of the Family and the Preparation of a Decade Plan for the Filipino Family for 2005-2015.
We share the Secretary General’s observation that social development requires systematic efforts at all levels of policy-making to place people at the center of public strategies and actions.
The Philippines endeavors to pursue policies that are consistent and coherent with the overarching social development objectives of the United Nations as embodied in major documents like the Millennium Declaration and the outcome documents of the World summit for Social Development. We continue to seek a process of development with a strong social dimension, leading to the attainment of a “society for all” based on respect for individual dignity and human rights. We advocate a course of action, which focuses squarely on meeting peoples’ needs.
We give highest priority to the central aspirations of our men, women and children. We have long recognized the need to care for and develop our human resources. My President’s ten-point development agenda for the next six years include public investment in education and the creation of decent jobs. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the Philippine Centers on social services, good governance, and equitable development.
Over the period 2001-2004, the Philippines managed to achieve decent growth rates, and we embarked on a more aggressive implementation of policies that will address the most critical threats to macroeconomic stability and long-term growth and development. Our Medium Term Development Plan (2001-2004) provided the country’s blueprint for sustainable socio-economic development, and embodied the anti-poverty and overall development framework of the country.
More importantly, we have pursued social integration of the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups by ensuring that appropriate policies are in place, complemented with programs, activities and projects that are supportive of these policies of empowerment and mainstreaming.
Policies and programs continue to be implemented aimed at providing access to quality education, health, nutrition, and reproductive health care. Social services expenditure for the past three years averaged about a quarter of the total national government expenditures, with education, culture and manpower development comprising most of our expenses, followed by housing and community development.
Indeed, we have accomplished many significant achievements. However, challenges exist, and much more needs to be done. Like the unfinished chambers of the Economic and Social Council here in New York, the work of those committed to social development is an on-going, and perhaps, never-ending struggle. Let me identify, therefore, what my delegation feels are the most urgent and compelling areas for priority action.
First, developing countries have to address weaknesses in their macroeconomic environments and fiscal conditions. If an environment conducive to social development is to be attained, we should be able to address weak fiscal conditions while economic fundamentals are still favorable. This entails more aggressive revenue mobilization and efficient management of expenditures.
Second, there is a need to pursue pro-poor growth through programs that promote rapid economic growth, reduction in income inequality and an increase in the access of the poor resources and jobs. The growth should enable the poor to actively participate in economic activities and benefit from them. A critical concern in this regard is the need to address spatial disparities, particularly the development gap between urban and rural communities.
Third, improvement in employment policies have to go hand in hand with reforms to stabilize the macro-economy and accelerate long-term growth. Policy imperatives for employment include generating employment faster than the growth in the labor force, addressing high levels of long-term unemployment, and exploring the indexation of growth in minimum wages to labor productivity.
Fourth, there is a need for a complete and credible monitoring system at all levels to enable planners and project implementors to design and deliver more appropriate interventions specific to the needs of the most vulnerable.
Fifth, we have to pursue programs toward improving the quality of basic education. Such program should address exceedingly low academic performance; high incidence of low quality education in rural communities; and the development of a new system of education outcome assessment. Innovative approaches in delivering educational services to complement the traditional systems should also be explored.
And sixth, in terms of cross-cutting issues and challenges, there is a need for a credible and complete database for monitoring and formulating policy actions. Gender equality and sensitivity must also be given further attention. The ability of local government units to implement social development projects should also be addressed. There is a need to strengthen partnership with civil society and other partners in the provision of basic social services. Financial constraints and inefficiencies must also be remedied.
The challenges facing our Governments may be different, but my delegation believes that we must adopt the same bold approach. We must be focused and unyielding. As stated in the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization, we must challenge the status quo. Towards this end, we have to be strong in the conviction that among the many important missions and responsibilities of government, the duty to ensure that everyone lives a secure, prosperous and productive life, remains the supreme goal.
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