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Progress reports

GOOD news regarding our country’s economy: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the Philippines posted the highest economic growth among Southeast Asian nations—7.1 percent—in the third quarter of the year. Indonesia registered 6.2 percent; Malaysia, 5.2 percent; Vietnam, 4.7 percent; Thailand, 3 percent; and Singapore, 0.3 percent.

During her visit last month, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said “the Philippines has become a vibrant emerging market that is approaching investment-grade status. Growth has averaged 5 percent over the past decade. And during the financial crisis, the Philippines remained resilient.”

News and reports about our country’s economic growth and progress continue. It is expected that such an outlook will result in more investors pouring capital or engaging in various enterprises in the Philippines.

However, the “ordinary” Filipino, if I may call them that, does not seem to “feel” this so-called economic growth and progress, bannered by these so-called accomplishments and economic reports.

Most of the country’s workers, especially those employed in the cities, lack security of tenure, which our leaders continue to ignore. Even those who think they have that security, they actually don’t. Their heads are just a few inches higher “above water” than most Filipinos. A little misfortune, a bad report, a falling out with management or with the boss (new or otherwise), and that little “security” is gone. There goes your car plan, your monthly amortization, your health card. We join those we call “less fortunate.” We at Caritas Manila and Radyo Veritas 846 know. We deal with these stories all the time, and I’m referring to stories from our volunteers, not our beneficiaries.

And what do you think is happening to our rural folks? To our farmers and fishermen? I hope they are feeling economically progressive.

We continue to build on sand.

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board’s sexy statistics: “Despite socioeconomic gains and positive growth in the Philippines’s gross domestic product, the headcount poverty rate and other indicators of poverty have almost remained unchanged for almost a decade—poverty incidence among the Filipino population ranged between 24.9 percent to 26.5 percent during the period. And this happened despite our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015.”

The same is observed even in past data on the employment and underemployment of the poor. Statistics from sample surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office suggest that there have not been much improvement in conditions of the poor’s employment between 2006 and 2009. The number of employed poor people even increased by 6.6 percent, from 15.8 percent in 2006 to 22.4 percent in 2009. (source:

Comparing the unemployment rate, the Philippines’s 7 percent tops Thailand’s 0.7 percent, Vietnam’s 2 percent, Malaysia’s 3.1 percent, China’s 4.1 percent and Indonesia’s 6.6 percent.

The Church’s Catholic Social Teaching, through the encyclical Populorum Progressio, teaches us that “development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.

“Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.

“Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each man receives reflects the glow of brotherly love and the helping hand of God.” (source:

The daily bread that each man receives. Easy enough an indicator for me.

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