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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Ms. Marie Yvette Banzon
Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations

44th Session of the Commission for Social Development
New York, 13 February 2006

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation is pleased to see you leading our discussions. We would like to extend to you and your bureau our warm congratulations.

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by South Africa, on behalf of the G77 and China.

This occasion of the end of the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty is yet an important period to assess where we are in our collective effort to rid our societies of poverty. Frankly speaking, we do not find ourselves surprised anymore hearing recommendations that we have already heard before. Clearly then, the various commitments and plans to combat poverty, including the pledges to ensure adequate participation of all sectors of society in the development process, has not been matched by current degrees of implementation.

Ensuring growth with equity

The tendency to race towards economic growth while neglecting to address inequality is precarious. Since equality is not an automatic consequence of development, anti-poverty efforts should consciously and deliberately incorporate strategies to ensure that all sectors are able to have a just share in the development pie. A comprehensive approach to poverty eradication, which includes the social, economic and political dimensions needs to be sustained, while enabling the poorest sectors to realize their full productive potential.

In responding to the basic needs of the poor, the Philippine Government’s efforts have been directed towards the strengthening of microfinance institutions, hastening of asset distribution, developing and operationalizing a social protection framework, pursuing health sector reform, and institutionalizing empowerment strategies through stronger political participation by the poor.

Employment for all

Securing jobs for people is essential to overcoming inequality and combating poverty. The Philippine government is vigorously implementing four major employment strategies in the pursuit of decent and productive employment: employment generation, employment preservation, employment facilitation and employment enhancement. In the Philippines, the majority of the unemployed are young people aged 15-24 years old. To address this, the government has focused on strengthening local job and enterprise creation among young Filipinos, providing opportunities to both schooled and out-of-school youth, eliminating employment discrimination and eradicating child labor. Moreover, the Philippine Youth Employment Network, an integrated youth-led and multi-stakeholder mechanism aims to create sustainable livelihood for Filipino youth in local communities and increase their capacities to undertake poverty alleviation programs and build effective networks for advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.

Protection and empowerment of vulnerable sectors

A cornerstone of the Philippine development plan is empowering the vulnerable sectors of society in order that they can participate in the development process. Thus, the vulnerable members of society are given preferential access to government-led social assistance, social protection and capacity-building programs. Sectors targeted are women and children in need of special attention, such as those living in rural areas; the victims of exploitation, abuse, calamities and disasters; indigenous people; older persons; persons with disabilities and families undergoing crises.

The Philippines’ efforts to uplift the lives of these sectors are rooted in the intrinsic obligation to guarantee protection of their human rights. But the work of protecting their human rights occurs in the practical context of ensuring their development. Therefore, the Philippines looks to the practical usefulness of existing international frameworks, in particular the World Programme of Action for the Youth, the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, among others, in guiding and complementing national efforts towards development of these sectors.

Enhancing the quality of international discussion, analysis and cooperation

In this connection, let me emphasize the need for discussion and analysis, especially in the debates of the UN and in the reports by UN agencies and divisions on the situation of vulnerable groups, to be acutely attuned to the primary development challenge of erasing global poverty. It is when we are fully cognizant of this context that we can generate useful and practical strategies that will make concrete differences in the lives of the marginalized.

Let me also recall one of the points that was so emphatically mentioned by one of the resource speakers at the opening of the session: if we are to move towards our goal of halving the number of the poorest in the world, we cannot go on at the pace we are going. We must be ready to make radical changes in the national and international levels that direct knowledge, resources and partnerships towards efforts that will carve the greatest impact and the broadest coverage possible. We would also need to continue thinking “outside the box” and dare to forge innovative and creative solutions to expedite our progress. In this respect, we call attention to the “debt-for-equity” proposal that was shepherded by my delegation at the World Summit event last year.

In conclusion, we want to highlight the fact that the present scenario of our development efforts is characterized by so many changing trends and dynamics to which we would need to effectively respond. An example of this is the issue of migration, which clearly impacts on global development. We therefore want to join other delegations who have called for a substantive contribution by the Commission to the forthcoming international conference on migration and development and pledge our country’s willingness to work with others in achieving the global goal of development for all.

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