Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

The Philippines is one of the 191 member states of the United Nations which signed the September 2000 Millennium Declaration. The declaration features eight specific goals that should be achieved by signatory countries in 2015. The eight goals, now known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are as follows: 1) Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; 2) Achievement of universal primary education; 3) Promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women; 4) Reduction of child mortality; 5) Improvement of maternal health; 6) Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7) Ensuring environment sustainability; and 8: Developing a global partnership for development.

What are the indicators used in measuring the progress of countries in achieving the UN MDGs? For goal 1, a country has to reduce by half the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day, halve the proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption, and halve the proportion of underweight children under 5 years old. For goal 2, the country’s net enrolment ratio, completion rate, and cohort survival rate in elementary education are measured. For goal 3, gender disparity should be eliminated in all levels of education before 2015. For goal 7, a country has to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. For goal 8, a country has to develop further an open, rule-based, and non-discriminatory trading and financial system. The debt problem should also be addressed comprehensively in order to make debts sustainable in the long term.

Can the Philippines achieve the MDGs by 2015? According to the latest progress report submitted by various government agencies, the Philippines is confident it can achieve goals 1 (halving poverty), 3, 4, 6, and 7. Improving nutrition and dietary energy requirement (goal 1) is rated as medium probability. It is least likely that the country can achieve goals 2 and 5.

The latest progress report is depressing. Even the positive indicators can slip back as negative outcomes in the next five years. For example, the Philippines claims it has already achieved goal 6 but just recently the Health Department has warned about the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases among young professionals. A doctor-lawmaker described the AIDS situation in the country as reaching epidemic proportion. Underreporting of HIV/AIDS cases also distorts the true picture and extent of the problem.

Goal 3 is listed as an achievement but women’s groups continue to assert that gender discrimination is still rampant. The Task Force on Education and Gender Equality proposes to broaden the targets for goal 3 to include the following: strengthening opportunities for post-primary education for girls, guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health and rights, investing in infrastructure to reduce women’s and girls’ time burdens, guaranteeing women’s and girls’ property and inheritance rights, eliminating gender inequality in employment, increasing women’s share of seats in national parliaments and local government bodies, and combating violence against girls and women.

Poverty reduction is an empty boast. Extreme poverty has worsened due to the continuing deterioration of the global economy. The domestic economy has failed to produce enough jobs and livelihood for the struggling poor. The country was also battered by powerful storms and volcanic eruptions in recent months. The inability of the government to mitigate the impact of natural disasters will reverse the initial gains in achieving the UN MDGs.

The stubborn refusal of church and national authorities to legislate and implement a comprehensive reproductive health policy makes it virtually impossible for the Philippines to achieve goals 2 and 5. Maternal health care is viewed by many church and conservative leaders as a euphemism for abortion. Based on Philippine experience, it can be surmised that a poor country with a fast population growth rate (and high corruption index) will not be able to achieve universal primary education.

The lameduck Arroyo government has lost the credibility (and time) to initiate measures that would fast track government programs related to the fulfillment of the UN MDGs. The next government should identify human development as its top priority. This means the national government should invest more resources in the delivery of basic social services and other essential needs of the people. Local Government Units can adopt the MDGs as indicators of their performance. The private sector, especially civil society organizations, can also contribute in formulating a national blueprint on how to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

Every president wants the Philippines to become a First World nation. The incumbent president believes the country can attain this status in 2020. The next president should concentrate on more basic goals, like achieving the UN MDGs. We cannot be a developed nation if hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and discrimination continue to spread in society.

Related articles:

Poverty indicators
Education for all
Women in legislation
Population explosion

4 Responses to “Can the Philippines achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals?”

  1. good day! Your page is indeed of great help.If you don’t mind, would you provide me with sources or links which could prove whether the Philippines could or could not achieve the MDG? Please And Thank You!!:)

    Ma. Pamela Aloha

  2. […] MDGs 2010 Nurse migration […]

    Mong Palatino » Blog Archive » MDGs and health workers

  3. Do you have any related literatures regarding whether health-related MDGs are achievable?thanks

    Juvilynn b. dinampo

  4. Hello. Did the Philippines signed/joined the millennium declaration? And also, in other sites (wikipedia), says that only 189 world leader attended the said summit?


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