DAVAO CITY, Philippines—An independent think tank branded as ambitious and luxurious the National Economic and Development Authority’s anti-hunger and anti-poverty program dubbed as “AmBisyon Natin 2040.”
Sonny Africa, executive director of Ibon Foundation told Davao Today Wednesday that NEDA’s program is also “too luxurious.”
Africa cited one of the visions, that of “owning at least one car.”
“This will give an implication that the government is not keen on fixing the public mass transport,” Africa added.
Africa also pointed out the need of every Filipino family of capacity to provide for education and health needs.
“It shows that they [Filipino families] will have the burden to spend for it. That is not acceptable,” he said.
Predominant middle class
NEDA’s 25-year vision was a result of a survey conducted in 2015 which aims to have national consensus and baseline data of how a typical Filipino family live a “simple and comfortable life.”
Assistant Secretary Carlos Abad Santos of NEDA central office said that “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” was a collective vision of the Filipinos to eradicate hunger and poverty in 2040.
Santos said the goal of the program is that Philippines, by 2040, will be a predominantly middle-class society.
“Poverty and hunger will have been eradicated. There will be a sufficient good quality local jobs available.”
“It is not a long term plan, but a long term vision,” Abad Santos told reporters at a press conference here Tuesday.
He also noted the plan for a long term vision which will be implemented in a successive six-year development plans.
“You cannot specify strategies in the long term, strategies can change depending on the environment, depending on the priorities of the administration,” he added.
Santos said that 79 percent of Filipinos aspire for a “simple and comfortable life,” which means owning “a medium-sized home, having enough earnings to support everyday needs, owning at least one car, having capacity to provide their children up to college education and going on local trips for vacation.”
NEDA’s survey result was categorized in four questions: What Filipinos want for themselves?; What should the country have?; How Filipinos look in terms of good governance?; peace and security and achieving economic improvement.
But Ibon’s Africa said the vision is silent on how to achieve economic development. “The basis of the dreams of the Filipino families are of what is the economy.”
He added that the country’s economy will remain backward and dependent on foreign importers if, “the agricultural sector will not be improved and the national industrialization will not be implemented.”
Challenges in Mindanao
NEDA’s Maria Lourdes Lim said that Mindanao as part of their vision, represents both challenge and opportunity.
“Challenge because of socio-economic indicators,” Lim said. She pointed out that most cities in Mindanao are part of the lowest economic status in the country.
A data from the Philippine Statistics Office showed the highest poverty incidence per family in the country from seven of the ten provinces in Mindanao, namely: Lanao del Sur, Eastern Samar, Apayao, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, and Northern and Western Samar.
Aside from the numbers, NEDA officials pointed out that the existing problems in peace and security in the island as one of the factors that they considered as challenging.
“It is important to address peace and security. If we can address that we can aim for rapid growth,” Abad Santos said.
He added that there would be no stability of the economy when the issue on peace and security will not be addressed.
But Africa argued that NEDA should not attribute the existing armed conflict as the “main cause of poverty.”
“There are conflict because of poverty,” Africa said.
In Mindanao, different groups have waged war against, for instance, the Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the New Peoples’ Army, he said.
“If we look into other parts of the country where there are no armed conflict, there are several Filipino families who live in poverty,” Africa said.
According to Africa, Manila which is the economic center of the country that have a high number of poor Filipino families.
The “AmBisyon Natin 2040” was first launched in Luzon last November 15 and recently launched in Davao City for Mindanao. (davaotoday.com)