HDPR: The Enormous Challenge, Poverty

Poverty is the big challenge. How does the Aquino administration orchestrate the poverty fight?

This blog continues JoeAm’s discovery of how the Philippines works. Where it is first class, and where it is not.
It is striking how small the Philippines is in terms of who is managing things.
When MLQIII takes time to drop a comment off to JoeAm, or national newspapers print JoeAm’s ramblings, then it is easy to suppose that our little Society of Honor here could potentially influence “national thinking”.
I just bumped across an old acquaintance while reading through the Blogwatch News daily report that I receive by e-mail. Her name is Lila Shahani. We corresponded briefly a couple of years ago when she was actively blogging. Now she is working as Assistant Secretary & Head of Communications for an inter-agency coordination effort called The Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) Cabinet Cluster.
I didn’t know this effort was underway. HDPR is on a Presidential mission to coordinate among 20 different agencies to work on poverty. This is hugely important, it would seem to me.
The cluster approach was announced in President Aquino’s “Executive Order  Number 43“, May 13, 2011: PURSUING OUR SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH THE FILIPINO PEOPLE THROUGH THE REORGANIZATION OF THE CABINET CLUSTERS. The order recognizes that some goals require the involvement of multiple agencies. 
As one of the clusters, HDPR has thrown its weight behind the RH Bill, urging President Aquino to address it in his SONA and issuing a press statement urging passage. That is a heavy-weight endorsement, when you think about it. How can legislators ignore the heads of 20 important agencies working on poverty-reduction in favor of a NON-GOVERNMENTAL agency, a PUBLIC INTEREST GROUP, called the Catholic Church?
How can legislators ignore the U.N., WHO, Human Rights Watch, the World Bank and just about every other responsible organization on the globe in favor of a PUBLIC INTEREST GROUP, called the Catholic Church. Not to mention women’s rights and welfare groups.
But I digress.
Here is the HDPR web site link.
As is usually the case, I form impressions as I walk up to the front door of a web presence. On this one I see a headline referral to the singularly important subject:  Poverty, scarcity and the rule of the Catholic Church. That is hitting the nail on the head. Lila wrote it for publication in Rappler. It largely counters the Church arguments against the HR Bill and the New Church Math that claims 140 votes lined up to defeat the Bill. She reasons well, which is something I have known for a couple of years now.
The HDPR web site is crisp and clear with four subject areas: News, Press Release, Research & Publications, and Related Links. However, there is not much material within the separate sections. The “Research” link leads to a National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) article about poverty by sector in 2009. From there, you can rummage through the NSCB resources. To me, 2009 data seems stale. Maybe it takes time to roll it up and get it on line.
The HDPR site seems new and underdeveloped, but I can see how it would be a valuable portal linking to poverty-specific resources at the base agencies. Like NSCB. One thing that is not yet clear to me is how all the pieces fit together. What is the master plan? I’d like to see the thinking on that.
Given that the web site is thin in content, I’ve dug a little to discover what HDPR has been up to.
  • HDPR has also issued a very reasoned and passionate plea for peace in Mindanao (pdf) so that poverty reduction work can continue unimpeded. Indeed, the key to peace is economic opportunity. It has little to do with religion.
  • The  Department of Management and Budget will implement a “bottoms up” budgeting process to get more development money to poor local communities. HDPR has identified 55 communities in the Eastern Visayas that will get special attention in 2013 as a pilot effort. This is a very important, groundbreaking step to ensure that poor localities have the kind of infrastructure development that improves the community AND provides jobs. It ensures that they don’t get shuffled aside as politically irrelevant.
  • Here is a presentation by the National Statistical Coordination Board (pdf) to HDPR regarding poverty statistics, methodology and progress at poverty reduction. There is a lot of technical material here. One meaningful point to me was how little progress on poverty reduction was made during President Arroyo’s term. Most regions were 8 years behind targets by 2009. The Aquino administration seeks to correct this.
  • The National Nutrition Council’s nutrition program (HAIN) is being introduced in 609 cities and municipalities across the Philippines. These communities were identified by HDPR for attention.  Better nutrition, better minds, better lives.

  • President Aquino has touted a Career Guidance Advocacy Program to better match job skills to the needs of the Philippines. Today too many college graduates leave the university trained for jobs that don’t exist. This program is under HDPR auspices.
This small sampling of projects underway suggests this is a very busy agency working to give direction and ACHIEVEMENT to the President’s goal of reducing poverty.
Poverty will not be corrected overnight. It will take years for some programs to bear fruit. But it is clear that with HDPR actively engaged to orchestrate efforts of a large and complex government, the important Agencies are joined to work on the task.
This is a strong way to deal with poverty as a priority. It is a sound step . . . no, a vital step . . . toward a First Class Philippines.
Here’s wishing HDPR great success.
Here is the charter for HDPR as set forth in Executive Order Number 43:
SECTION 7. Human Development and Poverty Reduction. The Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster shall focus on improving the overall quality of life of the Filipino and translating the gains of good governance into direct, immediate, and substantial benefits that will empower the poor and marginalized segments of society. In particular, the cluster shall pursue the following goals:
a. Making education the central strategy for investing in our people, reducing poverty and building national competitiveness;
b. Recognizing the importance of advancing and protecting public health;
c. Building of the capacities and creation of opportunities among the poor and the marginalized;
d. Increasing social protection and engaging communities in their own development;
e. Promotion of equal gender opportunities in all spheres of public policies and programs; and
f. Ensuring effective coordination of national government programs for poverty reduction at the local level.
The composition of the Cluster shall be as follows:
Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Chair, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform
Secretary, Department of Agriculture
Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Secretary, Department of Education
Chair, Commission on Higher Education
Secretary, Department of Health
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment
Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
Secretary, National Economic Development Authority
Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government
Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission
Secretariat: National Anti-Poverty Commission

17 Responses to “HDPR: The Enormous Challenge, Poverty”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Joe,I am impressed as hell, after all this President is not LAZY eh?Its Jack

  2. He is not. I understand from a Rappler article that he is demanding and detail-oriented, but lets his subordinates carry the load. He operates like an executive should operate. Much stronger than I had pegged him for when he was running for office, and I think getting stronger. My main complaint is continuing to play favorites and not grasping when to butt out. Like pushing De Lima so hard for Supreme Court Justice. I think if she is selected, her credibility will be very low, and acceptance of controversial decisions will be tainted by possible bias. This "trade of favors" needs to stop.

  3. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)1. Good showcase report, thanks!2. Good Management should produce a good plan and goal/day/date/time target by which to measure success and progress!3. Question: What is better, spending money on half(band aide type/short sighted) fixes complete withneed for annual emergency and claimity bonus (for badjob/work by government) or paying people out of proverty each day?Observation: One suggestion to help "pay people outof proverty" would be to earmark a fund that would putthe "unwashed", the "uneducated", the "needyfolks" intoa public works program that would target helping to fix our national plumbing problem (i.e., ocean and stormwater flooding issues)! Simple first phase would be to establish in eachcity a "sandbag" and burm bag loading center and put people to work 24/7 if necessary to load sand containers (in-city and at designated locations) foruse as "core" material to build ocean sea walls, dikes, burms and fresh water rivers, creeks, water retention-man-made lakes- facilites (eventually coverthe core of sand bags with rock rip-rap and cement caps).This project could become a centerpiece that would allowchildren to go to school, support the RH bill intent, helpeducate and support good parenting, reduce crime and"suffering proverty". So we would get a 2 for 1–provide and construct damns,lakes, reserviors,retention and recycle freshwater, improveinfastructure and coastal ocean surge/flooding issues andhelp the unemployed to help themselves! Seems like a win-win! This program could provide a better "face" to thetourists and aide organizations.chirp!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Boo Chanco's article said as much-Pnoy will lose so much political capital if he appoints De Lima. At times like this, Pnoy's vision seems to stretch no further than his nose. Seige mentality. I'm glad you're a bit optimistic about this agency's vaunted horizon but remember the many think tanks and blue prints that have been churned out since Marcos. A long way to go from the lab to the bench. Even the RH Bill risks sabotage at every turn. Pnoy has to lose some friends in order to gain an inch fighting poverty. Brass balls are needed. One thing I miss about Arroyo-balls but oh so wrong- headed.DocB

  5. Anonymous says:

    P.s., from island jim-e!Question: Is it true that it only takes threemonths to train entry level policepersons(and only a highschool eduction for pre-requsits).

  6. Good thinking from the rocker today, I see. Yes, it is strange to me the way it works now. The government gives money to parents if their kids remain in school. The schools assess fees to collect the money back that the government has paid the parents. I think that's the way it works.I like your "community work" idea better.

  7. Boo is a superb thinker. I agree Mr. Aquino needs balls of brass. Actually, I was impressed that he stepped forward and asked legislators to put the nation first on the RH Bill. The venom of the Catholic Church, that place of compassion and understanding and grace, descended upon him.

  8. Regarding police, I don't know. I'd be surprised if it were that short, especially if they have to be in shape and shoot a gun straight. And know laws. I thought a college degree was required for PNP. Sorry, I'm ignorant on the qualifications.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, sounds like he is a good leader and manager, and I am counting on it at the end of his term. Hope is in the air.I have read Reagan, Bush (dad and son), and Clinton. I noticed that they seemed to appoint whitehouse staff and cabinet members from a pool of people they they have known for years. Is that playing favorite or an element of confidence?You are right, pushing De Lima to SC is an obvious "trade of favors" and causes a bitter after taste. Not a smart move.I dont think she will make it, Do you?Its Jack

  10. Yes, good point about American leaders also appointing people they know. I think Bush the Younger did this more than most, old college chums and Texas pals. And I gave kudos to Mr. Aquino for his appointment of Jimenez, who ran his campaign, to the tourism post. I suppose knowing someone who is COMPETENT gives one confidence, rather than going with a stranger. The risk is that competence is traded off for comfort or, in the Philippines, to pay off a debt.If I were on the JBC I'd mark De Lima off immediately for the APPEARANCE of bias, and to make sure the Judiciary remains apart from Executive. Plus her shoot-form the hip style is not exactly judge material in my book. And I wouldn't use excuses like the disbarring complaint. I'd explain exactly why. I have no idea what they'll actually do, but I'm rooting for professionalism.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Best way to fight poverty is create jobs. Jobs provide people the means to feed themselves and pay their way through life. How do you create jobs. Through investment. You create jobs–that does not depend on government spending– only through investment. So focus on increasing, doubling, tripling, quadrupling Investment. It helps if some passengers get off and the able-bodied get down and help push the bus and clear the road of pebbles, but you get better result by fixing the engine and the accelerator.- ricelander

  12. Agree, but it is also easier to push if the land is flat and not uphill. It is uphill when the demand for jobs (population) exceeds the economy's ability to generate wealth. I think there is not one solution, but it will take several efforts. Like for a business to make profits, you can either cut expenses or increase sales. Or do both. The latter gets you to your goal soooner.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You do not need passengers getting off or some help in pushing the bus uphill, with a great engine, JoeAm. Nor do you need to flatten the land.Demand for jobs and supply of workers are two sides of the coin. You cut down on population today, twenty years or so from now, you will have worker shortage. Later you have crisis in retirement funds owing to a disproportionately bigger number of retirees as old age extend to 100 and fewer workers to replenish the fund. Oh well, it really is a complicated problem.There simply is shortage in investment. That has been the case for decades now. Whatever growth generated in the past until now for the most part depended on government spending which is of course supported by new taxes and additional borrowings and consumption supported by foreign remittances. You do not need a doctorate in economics to see that this is an unhealthy, unsustainable growth. Growth must come from wealth generated by industry.ricelander

  14. We'll have to agree to disagree, ricelander. I look about and the poverty here, the mobs of kids heading nowhere, is an enormous problem. Foreigners would have to buy the Philippines to make a dent. A few companies is not enough. Not to mention the millions working overseas that can come home, but not if population growth is 50% higher than what economists consider healthy and sustainable.

  15. Edgar, I try to connect with the link and it says I "don't have rights" to visit the site.I don't mind long replies within the discussion threads if you wish to paste it here.

  16. Okay, I got it by linking through your name and profile. It is lengthy so you'd better damn be not posting that here! ahahaha. Let me digest what you wrote and comment either here or there.

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