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PIA Press Release

Gov't positioned to meet its MDG commitments - PGMA

Manila (11 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said yesterday that halfway through the government's commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Philippine economy has attained a new state of stability and maturity with some of the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in 20 years.

The "ratio of Filipinos living in extreme poverty has been drastically cut from 20.4 percent in 1990 to 10.2 percent in 2006," she said at the launching of the 2007 MDG Report and the Philippines Midterm Progress Report at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel yesterday morning.

The government started its commitments to the MDG in 2000 which ends in 2015.

While expressing elation that poverty in the country is down, the President admitted, however, that "we have a long way to go. But only through a strong economy can we improve the plight of the poor, our education and our health."

She said that poverty reduction is her overarching goal and that she intends to focus on attaining it during the remaining three years of her term.

The Chief Executive said she was heartened that of the 15 indicators, the Philippines is doing well in 10 because it's one of the few countries where the MDGs are "really internalized in the economic reforms reflected in our Medium-Term Development Plan."

She pointed out that her immediate goal is to reduce the incidence of poverty by half and meet all the country's MDG commitments by 2015.

"The short answer to continue with economic growth and meeting all the Millennium Development Goals is not just the 10 out of the 15 is summed up in three words: Invest, invest, invest," the President said.

"The imperative now is to sustain growth by making long overdue investments in education, healthcare and training and attract more investments by fast tracking billions in new bridges, roads and ports," she added.

The President said that as shown by the country's MDG report, the Philippines has made considerable progress, particularly in poverty reduction, nutrition, reducing child mortality, combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilet facility.

The progress report stated that the Philippines needs to work harder on targets concerning universal access to education, maternal mortality and access to reproductive health services.

"We are putting more money in the areas suggested by the MDG report," she said.

First, the government would increase investment in infrastructure to attract more investments that would translate to more jobs.

Second, directly improve social services such as health insurance subsidies for indigent patients and the inclusion of child birth in health insurance so as to meet the MDG's goal of lowering maternal mortality.

More money would also be spent on upgrading local government hospitals from primary to secondary as secondary hospitals have childbirth and caesarian facilities.

The government would also spend more on the food-for-school program so as to entice parents to send their children to school and increase the country's early education survival rate.

Third, as part of its poverty reduction program, the government would boost educational support by investing in better schoolbuildings, new textbooks and teaching materials and training programs for mentors.

Fourth, cutting red tape and continuing to eliminate corruption from the system.

The President stressed that the flow of investments and implementation of vital infrastructure projects must not be derailed by any political noise.

"We hear and heed the advice to strengthen our efforts in five areas of education and health to make sure our MDG targets are met," she said.

"Our vision is a Philippines on the verge of First World status in 20 years when we will have dramatically reduced poverty, created a robust middle class and have all the hallmarks of a modern society in strong and stable institution. In strengthening our institution, political noise will not distract us from our tasks," the President added.

The MDGs are based on the United Nations Millennium Declaration endorsed by all 192 UN member-states in 2000.

The eight goals are halving the incidence of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability, and, developing a global partnership for development by 2015. (OPS) [top]

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