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Inquirer Headlines: Nation

A World with Extreme Poverty is a World of Insecurity.

Friday, July 27, 2007

NSO to conduct census starting Aug. 1

CENSUS HELPS GOVERNMENT ALLOCATE RESOURCES AND REVENUES

By Jonathan L. Mayuga
Correspondent/Business Mirror

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THE National Statistics Office (NSO) will conduct the 2007 Census of Population starting on August 1.

At least 37,000 census-takers will conduct the nationwide survey to interview household individuals to make a complete count of the population.

The nationwide survey is the 12th to be undertaken since 1903. The NSO is the sole government agency mandated by Commonwealth Act 591 to undertake such nationwide population count.

The census will cover all people living in the Philippines, including overseas Filipino workers and foreigners who intend to stay within one year.

Underscoring the importance of an updated information on the size of population in development planning, Romulo Neri, director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), appealed for the public’s full cooperation.

“From the rural areas of Batanes to the remote barangays of Jolo, no one should be left out. Stand up and be counted,” Neri said during the press launch of the 2007 Census of Population at the Sul├┤ Hotel on Thursday

The last census, the 2000 Census of Population, revealed that there are 76.5 million people living in the Philippines. It was from this figure that the NSO was able to project the current population in the Philippines of 88.7 million, at a projected population growth rate of 2.36 percent.

With this year’s census, NSO hopes to get an accurate information about the population in the Philippines and determine whether the growth rate is increasing or decreasing.

The current population growth rate, on a demographic point of view, is “unacceptable,” said Socorro Abejo, officer-in-charge of the Household Statistic Department of the NSO.

“The Philippines is what you call right now explosive population. Ideally, a country’s growth rate should be based on the capacity of the government to provide for the basic needs of the people. Our current growth rate is not acceptable,” she said.

NSO administrator Carmelita N. Ericta said the census, which was supposed to be conducted in 2005 but was shelved due to lack of budget, will take 40,000 NSO-trained census-takers and 7,800 team supervisors to cover 41,944 barangays in the Philippines.

The nationwide survey will last about 25 days and will be made available by end of February next year.

She said the NSO-trained census-takers, wearing official 2007 Census of Population IDs and T-shirts will visit and interview every household to ask basic information about the number of people living within the house, including their ages, sex, marital status, education and other demographic, social and economic characteristics. The interview will take about 15 to 30 minutes.

The government will spend P1.6 billion to conduct the survey.

The census will also cover institutional populations such as those living in hospitals, sanitaria, penitentiary, military camps, convents and seminaries.

Allaying fears that the census will be used for other purposes, such as conducting surveillance under the Human Security Act (HSA), Ericta said any information obtained during the census will be held strictly confidential, as per Section 4 of Commonwealth Act 591.

However, she also said that refusing to give information or providing false information to census-takers is punishable by law.

Under Section 3 of Commonwealth Act 591, upon conviction, a fine of not more than P600 or imprisonment for not more than three months or both will be meted to any person who unjustifiably refuses to furnish the information called for in the census questionnaire.

She said the 2007 Census of Population will provide current data on population counts, which will be the basis for the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the creation of new local government units (LGUs), or conversion of some of the existing LGUs to a higher level, pursuant to the provisions of the 1991 Local Government Code.

It aims to continuously address the specific data requirements of the national government agencies, like NEDA and LGUs, especially in targeting beneficiaries of basic social services.

Census of population is the complete count of all residents, both Filipinos, including overseas workers, and foreigners, who have stayed or are expected to stay for at least a year.

Among the important uses of such census for the government is the accurate and timely formulation of policies, preparation of plans and programs concerning population such as the number of schools to be built, the number of teachers, number of policemen to be deployed, and number of public health workers needed in a province, city or municipality and even barangay.

It will also help determine the number of congressional seats in a province, city or municipality based on the population.

Such census also aids the government in allocating resources and revenues, and help in planning the creation of political and administrative units.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Palace exec counters study on Cordillera hunger

by Vincent Cabreza
Philippine Daily Inquirer-North Luzon
Last updated 02:04am (Mla time) 07/21/2007

BAGUIO CITY—A Malaca├▒ang official on Thursday said the conventional definition of poverty that the government was using may describe key Cordillera provinces as “food poor,” but the reality is “no one starves in any Igorot community.”

Speaking before a regional development council assembly, former Sagada Mayor Thomas Killip, presidential assistant for Cordillera affairs, countered a recent health and nutrition report that the region is “hungry.”

“To us in the Cordillera, even the thought of chronic hunger or starvation is not part of our vocabulary. In our values, to allow a family to starve is not only a disgrace, it is a crime,” he said.

Government health and nutrition experts announced in a Wednesday press conference that they had detected high incidences of malnutrition and hunger in the Mt. Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, and Abra.

These provinces make up the Cordillera Administrative Region. Only Benguet, Metro Manila’s main source of salad vegetables, was excluded from a government nutrition project scheduled this year to correct this nutrition anomaly.

Sagada is a tourist-drawing town of Mt. Province, which displaced Ifugao from a list of the country’s poorest provinces last year.

During the Wednesday news briefing, Michaela de Fiesta, Cordillera coordinator of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), referred to the 2005-2006 Social Weather Stations’ hunger survey and a 2003 nutrition survey which detected the region’s malnutrition crisis.

De Fiesta said one oddity about Cordillera consumption patterns is the fact that indigenous Filipinos here still preferred to consume meat than the vegetables they produce.

Juan Ngalob, Cordillera director of the National Economic and Development Authority, said most vegetable farms in Benguet and Mt. Province are dedicated to consumers who spend up to P2 billion on salad vegetables shipped to Metro Manila each day.

The Cordillera’s gross regional domestic product in 2006 grew to 3.7 percent from the 0.7 percent rate posted in 2005, largely due to high farm yield, according to a statement released by Benjamin Navarro, Cordillera director of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

A major hybrid rice producer, Kalinga produced 66,000 metric tons of palay in 2006.

Most farmers have a substantial farm surplus which families consume, Ngalob said.

Killip made no reference to the SWS hunger survey when he countered reports about Cordillera hunger.

“Cordillerans in their whole history do not have accounts of starvation even in the worst of times,” he said. “Even while Spanish conquistadores [like] Guillermo Galvey conducted punitive expeditions to pacify Igorots and take control of the gold resources in these areas by burning entire villages and fields to starve communities, there were never any accounts of starvation,” he said.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hunger stalks Cordillerans, say health, economic execs

By Desiree Caluza
Philippine Daily Inquirer-Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 01:24am (Mla time) 07/19/2007

BAGUIO CITY -- Although the Cordillera is identified as an agricultural region, its residents are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, according to health officials and economists here.

Juan Ngalob, regional director of National Economic and Development Authority in the Cordillera, said even if the region had many rice and vegetable farms, many of its people suffer from hunger because of inaccessibility to food due to insurgency and bad infrastructure.

He said agricultural lands that produce rice and vegetables have limited access to the provinces and villages engaged in the food trade.

Dr. Michaela Defiesta, regional coordinator of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), said the provinces identified as “food poor” are Mt. Province, Kalinga, Abra, Apayao and Ifugao.

Benguet, Cordillera’s vegetable capital, was not on the list.

Target areas

Defiesta said the “food poor” provinces are the target areas for the implementation of the government’s anti-hunger mitigation program (AHMP).

“We are involving the Department of Public Works and Highway in this program because we want food to reach the people. We are also campaigning for livelihood programs,” she said.

She said President Macapagal-Arroyo had asked the NNC to include non-government organizations, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the military in the program.

Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, chief of the health operations division of the Department of Health in the Cordillera, said the government does not only want to address hunger in the region but also the lack of food.

Thomas Killip, presidential assistant for Cordillera affairs, said poor infrastructure and insurgency contributed to lack of food in region. But he was bothered by the malnutrition of many people which, he said, should be the concern of all.

Malnutrition

“There is malnutrition because of wrong kinds of food. One may have too much rice ... but he may lack vegetable in his diet,” he said.

Killip said the local government should enhance the production of traditional rice, vegetable and fish varieties that are rich in nutritive values.

There are self-sufficient agricultural communities but the size of arable lands is decreasing due to increasing population, he said.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Business shortcomings on anti-corruption measures remain-UN study

Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 9, 2007


A United Nations survey said Monday that there were still major shortcomings in business's approach to human rights and anti-corruption measures despite progress in adopting socially and environmentally responsible standards.

The first report on the corporate response to the UN's seven-year-old partnership with companies, the Global Compact, said there was "much room for advancement" on corporate assessments of their impact on human rights, reporting cases of corruption, and in overseeing their suppliers' compliance.

"The survey shows there are distinct areas where companies are excelling and others where they lag," it added.

The human rights group Amnesty International said the voluntary arrangement had not been effective so far and voiced frustration at the lack of enforcement of the 10 pledges dealing with human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

The report was released ahead of the biggest meeting yet on the UN's Global Compact in Geneva on Thursday and Friday.

It is due to bring together about 650 business executives, as well as ministers, campaign groups, and international organisations.

The 60 page survey of about 400 companies marks the first time the United Nations has tried to assess the implementation of its 10 principles by the Compact's near 4,000 strong corporate members.

The public benchmarking will now be annual, Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell said.

Eighty-nine percent of companies said they gave employees greater say in policies on labour standards, more than 80 percent said they had measures against discrimination, while 69 percent allowed trade unions.

Half said they had set up policies against forced or child labour, while just 38 percent monitored labour standards in their supply chain.

Forty-three percent of the companies said they had environmental performance targets, but only a quarter to 29 percent had targets for sustainable consumption or production.

Sixty-one percent of companies claimed a "zero tolerance" policy towards corruption, but only seven percent said they publicised political donations and just 23 percent set sanctions for policy breaches.

Companies were largely monitoring human rights in the workplace. Only 31 percent conducted assessments on the broader risk their policies might pose for human rights, while just 16 percent examined their actual impact.

Kell told journalists companies had initially joined the Global Compact thinking they could use it to enhance their public relations.

"That has fundamentally changed, there has been a significant shift towards quality," he argued, underlining the increasing business risk involved in transgressions, and the growing implication of top level management in overseeing proper standards.

"We delisted 600 participants last year and we expect another 500 to be delisted this year," he added, citing shortcomings in their reporting.

However, the number of companies joining the Compact is growing by about one-third a year.

Amnesty International criticised the voluntary nature of the Compact, underlining that it did not replace a company's legal responsibility.

"I would say that we are very concerned that it isn't being very effective," Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty told AFP. "There is no analysis of the substance."

At least one of the companies with participants registered for the Geneva meeting, electric engineering giant Siemens, is embroiled in corruption investigations in Germany, including on suspicion of setting up a slush-fund to obtain foreign contracts.

"Siemens is now prepared to totally reconsider its engagement in the Global Compact and to take it far more seriously," Kell commented.