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Stakeholders’ Step-Up Campaign Forum on the Philippines Millennium Development Goals
His Excellency BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
At the Stakeholders’ Step-Up Campaign Forum on the Philippines Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
[September 8, 2010, Dusit Thani Hotel]
The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals have served as a blueprint for progress for many countries since the year 2000. From eradicating extreme poverty to hunger, from achieving universal primary education to promoting gender equality; its goals are historic in scope and ambition. From the empowerment of women to reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases to ensuring environmental sustainability, it aims for a global approach by means of developing a global partnership for development. The millennium goals are a reflection of humanity’s aspirations – to break the chains of ignorance and disease, poverty and injustice. To end in our new millennium, the millennia-old scourges of humankind.
The Philippines Fourth Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals is an important instrument in assessing where we now stand as far as the MDG’s are concerned. This report, which contains data from 1990 to 2009, identifies the threats that remain, how we can address them, and other efforts we need to focus on so we can fulfill our commitment of realizing the MDGs by 2015.
Based on the reports, the Philippines is faring well in the reduction of the mortality rate among children age 5 and below, the decrease in the death rate associated with malaria and our leaps in the treatment of tuberculosis. We have also been successful in expanding access to safe water and sanitation. This means that despite our economic challenges, we have been able to achieve significant inroads to improve the health and hygiene of our children.
An aggressive effort in accomplishing the MDGs is vital. But we cannot do it alone. Reducing poverty, reaching universal primary education and improving maternal health are three areas that demand more attention, not just from the government, but from every Filipino citizen.
To help eradicate extreme poverty, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has implemented the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that provides cash grants to poor families after they have complied with government conditions. This project, which was originally funded by The World Bank, is now also being supported by the Asian Development Bank through a 400 million dollar loan. In addition, the KALAHI CIDSS program, also spearheaded by the DSWD, has received a generous 120 million dollar loan from the Millennium Challenge Corporation for it to continue building the capacity of the poorest communities through roads, utilities and other services which used to be inaccessible to them. These programs enjoy the continuous support of foreign aid groups because they have clearly demonstrated, by means of consistent data gathering and monitoring, that school attendance rates have risen, monthly check ups have been undertaken and once severely deprived communities are now able to reap the benefits of sustainable livelihoods. This is clear evidence that efforts to solve poverty are underway and will be vigorously pursued by this government in partnership with basic sectors.
We will do all these by remaining committed to our promise to fight corruption. Better governance, transparency and accountability will ensure more efficient use of funds for MDGs and will minimize leaks and waste in the use of public funds. I expect each Filipinos to remain vigilant in serving as watchdogs of the government, keeping our campaign battle-cry alive: the end of corruption is the end of poverty.
A nation is only as good as its poorest people. What we become then as a nation depends on our ability to provide the needs of our most vulnerable, ensuring a foundation for a more sustainable and prosperous tomorrow.
We have already proven that, united, nothing is impossible. What we lack in funds, we make up with heart, faith and a burning and earnest sense of communal responsibility. The Filipino has proven this to the world, time and again: when once we were shackled by tyranny and oppression, we armed ourselves with compassion and achieved democracy; when once our feet were stuck, muddied by the crooked path, we pulled ourselves out, and began finally, to walk the straight and righteous path.
With the same commitment, we can achieve the same for our MDGs. We can free ourselves from the chains of poverty and fulfill the great potential of our nation.
Because that is our pledge, and in the name of all those whose trust has provided today’s foundation for change, we will achieve this. We will rebuild, and we will prosper. The Filipino people deserve nothing less.