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General Discussion during the 58th Session of the Commission for Social Development

Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro, National Economic and Development Authority Government of the Philippines
UN Headquarters, New York


Thank you, Madame Chair.

Good afternoon.

The Philippines takes this opportunity to reaffirm to the global community its commitment to put people at the center of development.

The Philippine Government committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our action plan for our people and our planet, and we are serious about keeping the promise to leave no one behind. In line with this, the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the medium-term economic development plan of the current administration, is geared towards achieving our long-term goal dubbed Ambisyon Natin 2040 (or Our Vision 2040), a Philippines where no one is poor by 2040.

Under our medium-term plan, over-all poverty is targeted to decline from a baseline of 23.3[AN1] % in 2015 to 14% by 2022, which is not a far-fetched target considering that we have managed to reduce our poverty incidence to 16.6% in 2018, a decline that equates to 5.9 million Filipinos lifted from poverty between 2015 and 2018.

Consistent with the pledge to end poverty in all its forms and to leave no one behind, the Philippine President signed into law in April last year Republic Act 11291, otherwise known as the Magna Carta of the Poor. Under the law, concerned implementing government agencies must establish a system to meet the rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and the highest attainable standard of health. My office, the National Economic and Development Authority, along with the National Anti-Poverty Commission, identifies the target individuals and families. 

The Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development is also implementing a conditional cash-transfer program popularly known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (roughly translated as “Enabling Filipino Families to Cross the Threshold”). The program covers more than 42,000 communities and has served more than 4.5 million households.  Proof of the success of the program is the voluntary withdrawal from the program of hundreds of recipients for the reason that they are already out of poverty and no longer need the support of the program.

The Philippines also thanks the Commission for Social Development for making “Affordable Housing and Social Protection Systems for All to Address Homelessness” the priority theme of its 58th session. The government of the Philippines recognizes the significance of this pressing need. This is why we have crafted national initiatives, policies, and programs that promote affordable housing and human settlements.

As detailed in our Philippine Development Plan, we are enhancing housing affordability for low-income groups through two major strategies: first, implementing innovative housing finance modalities; and second, strengthening the primary mortgage market and further developing the secondary mortgage market. We are also pursuing a housing sector program called Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable, and Inclusive Filipino Communities, or BALAI program. It is a multi-stakeholder partnership platform that seeks to expand access to housing opportunities by accelerating housing production, enhancing housing affordability especially for low-income groups, and ensuring livability and sustainability of human settlements. We also have a modified conditional cash transfer program for the homeless. This targets homeless street families and provides them with a complete package of assistance, including shelter assistance.

The Philippines finds it crucial to discuss the issue of natural disasters and human-induced emergencies in any discussion of homelessness. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction ranked the Philippines 4th among the countries most affected by extreme weather events from 1998 – 2017. In 2019, more than 20 typhoons hit the Philippines. The very last one, Typhoon Ursula that lashed across central Philippines on Christmas Day last year, damaged 527,201[AN2]  houses. Floods, earthquakes, monsoons, and volcanic eruptions add to the list of disasters and drive up the extent of the damage.  Just last month, the eruption of Taal Volcano affected more than half a million people.  While some can return to their homes, about 6,000 families from the Taal Volcano Island itself, which shall be declared a “no man’s land” very soon, need to be re-located. Human-induced emergencies also add to displacements and homelessness. The 2017 Marawi Conflict, a result of violent extremism, displaced 77,170 families. We have just marked the closing of the so-called “tent city” in Marawi last February 8, as we relocated the last 64 displaced families to decent transition shelters. At present, the government continues the rebuilding of their damaged city. 

We continue to be innovative to mitigate the risk of Filipinos being homeless during disasters and conflicts through various social assistance programs, such as temporary shelter construction, core shelter assistance program, emergency shelter assistance, and cash-for-work program. We are also in the process of updating our National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan 2011-2028, which tackles post-disaster housing as a significant component, and the updated plan will be ready by next month.

In closing, we also take this opportunity to state that the Philippines joins the international community in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. Aligning ourselves with the statement delivered by Thailand on behalf of the ASEAN, the Philippines commits to cooperate with the international community in seeking solutions to the remaining challenges and in placing people at the center of development. Moreover, the Philippines express full support[AN3]  to the high-level political commitment made by the Government of China and the efforts of the World Health Organization to contain the outbreak of novel coronavirus. We deeply appreciate the importance of global action on health-related risks to ensure sustainable development.

Thank you very much.

 [AN1]Note to DFA/PH Mission to UN: The Philippine Statistics Authority did a “back estimation” of poverty incidence and revised the 2015 figure from 21.6% to 23.3%.

Back estimation of the full year 2015 poverty statistics was made due to the following:
• rebasing of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) market basket prices from 2006 to 2012; and
• adoption of the 2015 Census of Population (PopCen) results for the weights in the FIES.

For more details, see: https://psa.gov.ph/poverty-press-releases/nid/144733

 [AN2]From the NDRRMC’s report dated 30 January 2020.

 [AN3]I think these sentences are enough. The Statement by Guyana on behalf of the G-77 and China already sufficiently incorporated the coronavirus talking points requested by China. See: http://statements.unmeetings.org/media2/23732267/guyana-on-behalf-of-g77-and-china-item-3a-b-.pdf.