Social Issues in the Philippines

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Falling Income
The Philippine GDP per capita shrank to US$990 in 2000 from US$1,129 in 1997 while the GNP per capita contracted to US$1,033 from US$1,197. This was a result of the Asian financial crisis, which caught up with the Philippines in 1998. 

After expanding 5.2 percent in 1997, the country's GDP backpedaled by 0.5 percent in 1998. It grew by only 3.4 percent in 1999 and 4 percent in 2000. With a high population growth rate of 2.3 percent annually, economic growth in 1999 and 2000 did little to improve the real per capita income of Filipinos.

Peso Drops 14 Times vs. US Dollar
According to Senator Ralph Recto, the country's per capita income has barely grown in the past 21 years. He said that the per capita income of P12,913 in 2001 is only P318 higher than P12,595 in 1980. "In today's pesos, the P318 increase in 21 years amounts to nothing at all." he said. Senator Recto also noted that the value of the peso has depreciated by as much as 1,373 percent against the dollar since 1960. 

The Poor and the Rich
In its 2000 survey of family income and expenditure, the NSO said that the average income of the population's 10th decile, representing the richest 10 percent of the Filipinos, was 14 times higher than the average earnings of the first decile, representing the poorest 10 percent. Each decile was representing about 8 million Filipinos. 

Poverty Threshold: P13,916
While the per capita income declined between 1997 and 2000, prices of consumer goods and services increased by almost 20 percent during the three-year period or over six percent annually. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) was forced to raise by 23 percent the national per capita poverty threshold to P13,916 in 2000 from P11,319 in 1997.

Unequal Regional Development
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reported that Metro Manila's per capita gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in 2000 was more than twice that of the national average and more than five times that of Bicol region. 

Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that 11 of the country's 16 regions had a poverty incidence of over 30 percent as of 2000. The five other regions with lower poverty levels are all located in Luzon. The NSCB placed the poverty incidence in the country (the proportion of families with per capita incomes below the poverty threshold) at 28.4 percent in 2000, up from 28.1 percent in 1997. In terms of population, poverty incidence was estimated at 34 percent in 2000, also up from 33 percent in 1997.

The NSCB data showed that in 2000, the National Capital Region or Metro Manila had the lowest poverty incidence of 5.7 percent among families. It was followed by four other regions in Luzon, with Region 3 (Central Luzon) registering a poverty incidence of 17 percent; Region 4 (Southern Tagalog), 20.8 percent; Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), 24.8 percent; and Region 1 (Ilocos), 29.6 percent.

Two regions in Luzon – Region 5 (Bicol), the southernmost region in Luzon, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – had a poverty incidence of over 30 percent. About 49 percent of families in Bicol were suffering from poverty while 31.1 percent of families in CAR were also in the same category.

All regions in the Visayas had over 30 percent of poverty incidence. Region 6 (Western Visayas) had a poverty incidence of 37.8 percent; Region 7 (Central Visayas), 32.3 percent; and Region 8 (Western Visayas), 37.8 percent.

All regions in Mindanao also had over 30 percent of poverty incidence. Region 9 (Western Mindanao) had a poverty incidence of 38.3 percent; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), 32.9 percent; Region 11 (Southern Mindanao), 31.5 percent; Region 12 (Central Mindanao), 48.4 percent; Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 57 percent; and Caraga, 42.9 percent.
32 Million Poor Filipinos
With the adjustment on poverty threshold, the number of Filipinos considered poor or affected by poverty incidence swell to 30 million or 39.4 percent of the population in 2000 from 36.8 percent in 1997. According to the Commission on Population (Popcom), the figure could have further climbed to 32 million or 40 percent of the population in 2002. In terms of number of families, poverty incidence affected 33.7 percent of all Filipino families in 2000 from only 31.8 percent in 1997.

5.1 Million Poor Families
The NSO reported that in 2000, poverty incidence affected 19.9 percent of families in urban areas and 46.9 percent in rural areas. Real number of poor families climbed to 5.1 million, 1.5 million of them in urban areas and 3.6 million in rural areas. Some 2.5 million families were living in subsistence level, meaning their income was not enough to buy their basic food requirements.

Poor and Near Poor, 58 Percent
In its 2001 report, the World Bank said 12.7 percent of Filipinos were "poor", a term it assigned to those who lived on less than US$1 a day while 45.9 percent were "near poor" or those who lived on less than US$2 a day.

A 2002 survey conducted by the local poll group Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 58 percent of its 1,200 respondents had considered themselves poor. The survey, conducted on March 4 to 23, 2002, also disclosed that 52 percent of the respondents believed that their quality of life had deteriorated over the past 12 months while only 15 percent said otherwise.

Only 80 Percent Had Access to Safe Water
Access to safe drinking water dropped to 80 percent among Filipino families in 2002 from 81.4 percent in 1999, according to the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO). In real figure, however, the number of families with access to safe drinking water climbed by 6.2 percent to 12.746 million in 2002 from 11.999 million in 1999 largely because of the 8 percent population growth during the three-year period.

86.1 Percent Had Toilets
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that the percentage of Filipino families with access to sanitary toilet improved to 86.1 percent in 2002 from 85.8 percent in 1999. In real number, this translates to 13.713 million families with sanitary toilet in 2002, up from 12.662 million families three years earlier.

79 Percent Had Electricity
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that around 12.581 million families or 79 percent of the total had electricity in 2002, up from only 10.809 million or 73.3 percent of all families in 1999.

72 Percent Had Strong Houses
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that 11.497 million Filipino families or 72.2 percent of the total had their roofs made of strong materials and 9.888 million had their outer walls made of strong materials.

67 Percent Owned House and Lot
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that 10.593 million Filipino families or 66.5 percent of the total had their own house and lot in 2002, with only 546,000 of them or 5.1 percent using the government's finance program to purchase their house and lot. Some 3.425 million families or 21.5 percent of the total had lands other than residence in 2002 while 376,000 families acquired lands through the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Ibon: Poverty Affects 87.5 Percent
Ibon Foundation Inc., a research think-tank that was accused by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as leftist, reported that poverty incidence actually affected 13.4 million Filipino families or 87.5 percent of all families in the country. The independent research agency based its computation on data from the National Wage Commission. Ibon said that the daily cost of living for a family of six was P530 in Metro Manila and P435 in the whole country, as of April 2002.

16 Percent Experiences Hunger
A survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) in March 2001 showed that 16.1 percent of its respondents had experienced hunger at least once in the last three months. About 6 percent of the households surveyed also claimed that they were experiencing hunger often or always.

20 to 34 Percent of Filipinos Undernourished
About 20 to 34 percent of 74.2 million Filipinos in the period 1998 to 2000 was undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its report entitled "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002." The situation in the Philippines was worse that those in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam where only 5 to 19 percent of the population was undernourished. 

Only less than 2.5 percent of population in Malaysia was undernourished while there was no record of similar problem in Singapore and Thailand. Only Cambodia, with 35 percent or more of its population being undernourished, was worse off than the Philippines.

The FAO reported that there are some 840 million undernourished people in the world today while the World Bank said about 1.2 billion people lived on less than US$1 per day. Some 25,000 people reportedly die of hunger and poverty each day. Measured annually, around six million children under the age of five are dying of hunger.

6 of 10 Policemen are Poor
A study concuted by the UP Variates and the CORPS Foundation in July 2002 showed that 32 percent of Metro Manila policemen claimed that their monthly income they took home were below the poverty threshold of P8,877 a month while nearly 90 percent admitted they had debts to government and private lending institutions. Nearly 50 percent had no bank savings.
1.391 Million Families with Working Children
Child labor remains a problem in the country. As of 2002, there were 1.391 million families or 12.8 percent of the total that had working children aged from five years old to 17 years old.

4 Million Children, Working
So critical was the poverty incidence in the country that many Filipino children had to find work in 2001. According to the NSO, 4 million out of the total 25 million Filipino children were working during the survey period from October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2001. 

Most of these working children were male, aged 10 to 17 years old, unskilled and unpaid. They worked as farmers, fishermen, hunters, vendors, and factory workers. Some 221,000 children did heavy physical work; 1.1 million faced physical hazards; 942,000 suffered injuries at work; and 754,000 had work-related illnesses.

These figures were consistent with the findings of an international institution. According to the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), some four million Filipino children were forced to work as of 2002 because their parents could not find jobs. Around 67 percent of these children were working in the agricultural sector and had to stop going to school. About 50 percent of the children were feeding their respective families.

15 Million Children, Malnourished
A 2002 study conducted by the Philippine Congress showed that about 15.6 million or more than 60 percent of the 25 million Filipino children (below 18 years old) were malnourished. In a separate study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), three out of 10 Filipino pre-schoolers were found malnourished or underweight in 2001. In actual numbers, there were 3.7 million malnourished pre-school children.

RP Imported 24 Million Bags of Rice
The Philippines, which remains largely rural and agricultural, has become the world's fourth largest importer of rice, after Indonesia, Nigeria and Iran. Citing a report of the US Department of Agriculture, Representative Satur Ocampo said the country imported about 1.18 million tons metric tons of rice in 2001 and a total of 1.2 million metric tons (24 million 50-kilogram bags) of rice in 2002.

1.5 Million Street Children 
The Philippines has one of the world's largest populations of street children. A 1996 report of the non-government movement End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) showed that the Philippines had 1.5 million children living or working in the street of 65 cities. Metro Manila alone had at least 75,000 street children.

ECPAT claimed that many children in the street were working as pickpockets and beggars and that around 60,000 children were either sexually exploited or driven to prostitution. According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, 325,000 children were using illegal substance, particularly rugby. 

About 100 million children in the world were said to be living in the street as of 1994. 

2.8 Million Illiterate Filipinos
According to the Functional Literacy Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) conducted in 2001, about 2.8 million Filipinos could not read and write while 7.4 million others are functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy refers to the inability of a person to use his skills in reading, writing and counting to improve his life.

10.8 Million Unemployed, Underemployed
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that as of April 2002, there were 4.866 million unemployed Filipinos accounting for 13.9 percent of the total labor force estimated at 35.052 million workers. About 5.922 million others or 19.6 percent of the labor force were also underemployed, meaning they had no regular sources of income.

26 Percent of College Graduates Unemployed
A study commissioned by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in 2002 showed that 26.2 percent of college graduates aged 24 years old and below were unemployed. In comparison, only 13.6 percent of high school graduates and 9.1 percent of elementary dropouts were unemployed during the same period.

Workers, Only 30.6 Percent of Population
Measured against the whole population (80 million), those who were working at least 40 hours a week estimated at 24.264 million workers comprised only 30.5 percent of all people in the Philippines as of April 2002. 

40 Percent of Voters Unaware of Rights
In June 2002, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), an independent Catholic organization, announced that almost 40 percent of their respondents composed of Filipino voters were unaware of their voting rights.

Prices Up by 6 Percent
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), prices of goods and services moved up by over 6 percent in 2001. In particular, prices of fuel, light and water increased by an average of 11.5 percent, year-on-year in 2001. Rice in the Philippines reportedly costs three times as much as it does in Thailand.

Price of Medicine, Three Times as Much
Prices of eight common drugs in the country were three times as much as they were in India, according to the Department of Health (DoH). For example, a 20-milligram tablet of Adalat Retard or Nifedine 20 that cost over P34 in the Philippines in 2001 was only priced at about P5.74 in India in the same year.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has accused local pharmaceutical firms belonging to the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) of dictating prices of medicine in the country.

5 Million Housing Backlog
According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), some 5 million Filipino families were in need of permanent houses in the whole country.

3.4 Million Squatters
In its 2002 study, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has cited the need to improve the lives of some 3.4 million Filipinos living in the slums of Metro Manila.

3,521 Disabled Filipinos, Driving
As of October 2002, the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP) disclosed that some 3,521 disabled Filipinos have licenses to drive vehicles. The number of disabled driver included 2,550 partially blind, 56 with impaired hearing and speech, 777 with impaired lower limbs and 138 with impaired upper limbs.

Philippine Justice System
According to the Supreme Court, about 45 percent of Philippine courts – regional trial courts, municipal courts, and municipal circuit trial courts – had no judges as of September 2002. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said there was a 22 percent vacancy in positions of prosecutors in the whole country. Just how the courts administered justice with such a wide vacancy in positions of judges and prosecutors paints a picture of disillusionment among victims waiting impatiently for justice. The vacancy in these positions usually means delay in the implementation of justice, which in turn discourages people from actually filing cases in courts. 

88 Signatures for Housing Permit
As of 2001, it took 88 signatures to get an approval to build a house in the Philippines. President Arroyo ordered that the number of signatures be trimmed to 45.

P35 Billion Lost to Project Anomalies
The chairman of the Committee on Appropriations at the lower chamber of Congress said the Philippine government lost P21 billion to graft and corruption stemming from scheming contracts entered into by senators and congressmen in 2001. The amount excluded money lost to corruption involving projects executed by other government officials.

Meanwhile, Senator Edgardo Angara said that around P35 billion is lost to graft and corruption in government infrastructure projects annually. Such anomalies come in the form of rigged public bidding, substandard work and cost padding. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

P21 Billion Lost to Procurement Process
The Philippine government has been losing some P21 billion to corrupt officials involved in the procurement process, the none-government organization Procurement Watch Inc. (PWI) reported. At the same time, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 15 percent of the cost of all government contracts is lost to corruption.

P104 Billion Pork Barrel
Aside from legislating laws, Filipinos senators and congressmen have made it their responsibility to distribute development projects in their respective districts. Each one of the 24 senators receives some P200 million in development funds annually while each one of about 218 congressmen receives P100 million in annual appropriations.

In total, all these development funds for legislators, collectively known as procurement budget or pork barrel, amount to P104 billion annually. According to House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr., some P21 billion or nearly 20 percent of this amount is pocketed by some legislators, other government officials and contractors each year. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

RP, Fourth Most Corrupt in Asia
In its 2002 survey, the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), which asked 1,000 foreign businessmen in 12 Asian countries, has ranked the Philippines as the fourth most corrupt country in Asia closely behind Indonesia, India and Vietnam. The Philippines received a score of 8.0 in the survey, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 the best possible score for a country with no corruption. PERC said Singapore was the least corrupt in the region, with a score of 0.9. 

In a separate survey also in 2002, Transparency International (TI) ranked the Philippines 77th among 102 countries in terms of fighting graft and corruption. The Philippines got a score of 2.6 in corruption perception index, with 10 the highest possible score for the country that has no corruption. Finland was ranked number 1, with a score of 9.7. Bangladesh was at the bottom of the list, with a score of 1.2.

P85 billion Ill-Gotten Wealth Recovered
In its claim as of 2002, the Presidential Commission on Good Government said that it has recovered a total of P85 billion in ill-gotten wealth since it was created in 1986.

2.8 Million Income Tax Payers
While there were 15 million salaried workers in the country in 2000, only 2.8 million actually paid income taxes. According to Senator Ralph Recto, of the total individual income tax returns filed in 2000, 1.953 million were by salaried workers (1.350 million of whom were government employees) and only 536,000 by businessmen and non-salaried professionals (like doctors and lawyers). In real amount, ordinary workers paid some P63.8 billion while non-salaried individuals, mostly businessmen and professionals, contributed only P7.3 billion for a total of P81.8 billion in individual income taxes.

The senator disclosed that about 56.2 percent of salaried and non-salaried workers in the country failed to settle their individual income taxes in 2000. Over the past 11 years, leakage from the individual income tax amounted to P608 billion. This was on top of the P610 billion that were lost to leakage in the value added tax (VAT) scheme.

US$205 Billion Tax Evasion
A study conducted by the research unit of US bank Morgan Stanley said that the Philippine government lost some US$205 billion in potential revenues from 1965 to 2001. The figure was computed based on the estimated annual tax leakage of US$7.6 billion or P380 billion. It was higher than the government's estimate. According to the Department of Finance (DoF), some P242 billion (US$4.65 billion) in potential government revenues is lost to tax evaders yearly. In its 1998 study, the Department of Finance said some P69.85 billion was lost because of leakage in the value-added tax, P59.33 billion in corporate income tax, P98.95 billion in personal income tax, P2.56 billion in excise tax, P6.4 billion in documentary stamp tax, P1.18 billion in interest withholding tax on bank deposits, P2.33 billion in fringe benefits tax, P1.5 billion in gross receipts tax, and P370 million in insurance tax. 

P187 Billion Tax Incentives to Corporations
The government dangled some P187.2 billion tax incentives to the largest foreign and local companies in the country in 2001. These incentives came in the form of income tax holidays and duty-free importation of raw materials from other countries. Companies, which benefited from such tax incentives were those registered at Board of Investments (BOI), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and other investment promotion agencies.

P147 Billion Budget Shortage
The country's fiscal deficit reached P147.03 billion (US$2.95 billion) or 4.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) estimated at P3.6 trillion (US$72 billion) in 2001. While the government spent P710.8 billion, its total revenues amounted to only P563.73 billion. Public sector funding requirement (PSFR) reached P189 billion. Debt servicing or payments to interests of domestic and foreign borrowings reached P27.2 billion.

To augment its budget requirements in 2001, the government sourced 87 percent of its total financing from domestic funds and 13 percent from foreign loans and aid. The government relied heavily on fixed-rate Treasury bonds as it issued P208.42 billion worth of these short-term fixed-income securities.

The situation was worse in 20002. The government said the budget deficit would climb to P223 billion or 5.6 percent of the GDP by the end of the year. The original target was only 4 percent.

P781 Billion Government Budget
According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the government has a total budget of P780.8 billion for 2002. Budget deficit is expected to reach at least P150 billion in 2002. 

Of the 2002 budget, some P233.9 billion or 30 percent is to be poured into social services; P204.2 billion or 26 percent to debt interest payments; P158.9 billion or 21 percent to economic services; P136.1 billion or 18 percent to general services; and P41.5 billion or 5 percent to defense. Among government agencies, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) had the largest share of the pie at P103 billion while the Department of National Defense (DND) got P60.4 billion.

US$53.4 Billion Foreign Debt
The Central Bank said that as of March 2002, total foreign debt of the Philippines amounted to US$53.4 billion. Public debt was placed at P2.62 trillion as of June 2002.

US$45 Billion in Infrastructure Needs
According to the World Bank, the Philippines would need some US$35 billion to US$45 billion in fresh investments from the private sector to improve its infrastructures (roads, bridges, railways, telecommunication facilities, etc.) over the next ten years.

Two People's Revolts
Fourteen years after the historic "People Power Revolution" that ousted the Marcos dictatorial rule in 1986, two people's revolts rocked Metro Manila in the first half of 2001. This was followed by several attempts to repeat the ugly May 1 mob rebellion staged by supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada. In the absence of a legal framework governing people's revolts, political stability became harder to establish. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary and former Senator Blas Ople called for a "sober" examination of the people power phenomenon and warned that a fresh call to stage another revolution would threaten the country's political stability. In a Senate resolution, Senator Blas Ople urged the chamber to assess the merits of "people power" as an instrument of political change and its constitutional implications. 

Episode of Turbulence
Even President Arroyo, who was a beneficiary of the January 2001 people's revolt, appealed for an end to what she called an episode of turbulence and threats. "In a living democracy, no group has the right to hold policy-making hostage by threatening to overthrow the executive on every issue of policy disagreement," she said.

34 Percent Says Democracy Works
The Filipino people were also dismayed. In a national survey conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Center for Leadership, Citizenry and Democracy in November 2001, only one of three Filipino respondents or 34 percent claimed they were satisfied with the way democracy works in the country. In contrast, about 42 percent of the respondents said otherwise. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Violent Elections
A manifestation of poor peace and order situation in the Philippines is the death of at least 87 people in the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections in July 2002. The police said another 45 individuals were injured in 183 violent confrontations among candidates and their henchmen. Ironically, the police described the situation as generally peaceful because fewer people died this year, compared with previous barangay elections. On July 15, the Filipino people elected 41,945 barangay chairmen, a similar number of youth leaders and 293,615 barangay council members.

25,000 Armed Rebels
There are two major insurgency movements in the Philippines, namely: the communist insurgency and the Muslim separatist movement. According to military estimates, there were 25,000 armed rebels as of the first quarter of 2002. 

These included 11,930 communist guerillas, 12,500 active members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and hundreds more belonging to Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf, Abu Sufia and Pentagon groups.

347 Clashes with the Reds
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recorded 347 armed confrontations with the communist guerillas, resulting in the death of 189 rebels and 120 government soldiers in 2001. 

Moro Leader in Prison
In November 2001, former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari who signed a peace pact with the government in 1996 broke the agreement and led another armed struggle along with his loyal supporters. He was facing sedition charges at a prison camp in Laguna province.

Muslim Extremists
The Abu Sayyaf (Bearers of the Sword) is a Muslim extremist group that was fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao. Since 1994, it has burned a Christian town, beheaded a number of innocent civilians, abducted foreigners and planted bombs in crowded areas. The AFP claimed that it was able to reduce the Abu Sayyaf force from 4,000 in 1994 to 600 in June 2001 and to 60 in May 2002. 

In April 2000, the group took 21 hostages, mostly European tourists from the Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia and brought them to Sulu province in Mindanao. The hostages were freed four months later upon payment of US$20 million ransom by the Libyan government. On May 27, 2001, the Abu Sayyaf abducted an American couple along with another American and 17 Filipinos from a beach resort in Palawan province. The group had beheaded the other American but freed the Filipino hostages. 

Some 1,000 American troops went to Mindanao to coordinate, advise and train Filipino soldiers in the rescue mission of the American couple. On June 7, 2002, American hostage Martin Burnham and Filipino nurse who was also taken by the group were killed during an encounter between the Muslim extremists and the pursuing Filipino troops in Zamboanga del Norte province. Gracia Burnham was wounded but survived.

Camp Abu Bakar Falls
The former Estrada administration declared an ugly all-out war against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the year 2000. While the government was able to siege Camp Abu Bakar, the main camp of the MILF, the war resulted in numerous bombings in the south and Metro Manila. There were also summary executions of Filipino Christians in Mindanao. 

On May 7, 2002, the Arroyo government and the MILF signed an interim peace agreement in Putrajaya, Malaysia. While the agreement called for the government's rehabilitation and development of areas devastated by the war in 2000, it did not call for the laying down of arms by the Muslim dissidents.

Cost of War: P100 Billion 
The World Bank said the recurring armed conflict between government soldiers and Muslim fighters would cost southwestern Mindanao over P100 billion in the next 10 years in terms of lost or stagnant investments. 

2 Million Unlicensed Guns
Around 2 million unlicensed guns were circulating in the Philippines on top of the 775,000 legally registered firearms. The figures were disclosed during the "Regional Seminar on Implementing the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons" which was held in Quezon City in July 2002.

A statement issued during the seminar also claimed that the 2 million unlicensed firearms and light weapons, including pistols, rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles, were responsible for the death of four million people in 46 major conflicts in the country in the 1990s.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the national police to intensify the campaign against loose firearms. Reports said there are about 328,329 loose firearms nationwide. In 2002, the national police confiscated 7,633 loose firearms. The Department of Interior and Local Government said that of the 12,000 firearms used in crimes in 2002, more than 10,000 of which were unlicensed.
37,254 Index Crimes
Some 37,254 index crimes were reported to the police in the year 2000 alone. The police claimed to have solved 32,445 or 87 percent of these cases. Index crimes refer to crimes committed against lives and properties.

P1.25 Billion Ransom
The Citizens Action Against Crime, a non-government organization, claimed that around 2,100 people, many of them Filipino-Chinese businessmen, have become victims of kidnap-for-ransom gangs in the Philippines and paid ransom amounting to about P1.25 billion from 1993 to 2002. The group added that in 2002 alone, kidnap victims paid a total ransom amounting to P211 million.

News reports said kidnap-for-ransom syndicates victimized over 240 individuals, including 20 foreigners in 2001. In the first half of 2002, another 80 individuals, including 30 foreigners, became victims of kidnapping. While Manila-based publications tagged the Philippines as the world's kidnap capital, the Philippine National Police (PNP) quickly denied this, claiming that Colombia owns the title.

1,877 Cars Stolen
The Philippine National Police (PNP) documented a total of 1,877 car theft cases in 2000.

Police data showed that a total of 2,219 vehicles were reported stolen in Metro Manila in 2002. This meant that six cars were stolen in the metropolis each day and 185 cars each month in 2002.

8 Rape Victims Per Day
Some 3,145 cases of rape were reported in the country in 2001. This translates to 8 cases of rape each day and one rape incident in every three hours during the year. The figure only covers rape incidents reported to the police. There were also 5,735 murder cases and 4,079 homicide incidents reported in the country in 2001 alone.

5,185 Sex Crimes Against Children
According to the Social Welfare and Development, there were a total of 5,185 sex crimes committed against children in the Philippines in 2000, and 3,980 cases in 2001. Sex crimes refer to rape, incest, and acts of lasciviousness.

143 Escapees
The Bureau of Jail Management reported that 143 prisoners escaped from their cells in 2000. Of these fugitives, 89 were recaptured.

25,000 Inmates
The Bureau of Corrections said that in 2002, it was holding 25,002 inmates, 16,134 of whom are at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), which has a holding capacity of only 8,700.
314 Political Prisoners
As of December 2002, the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa was hosting 314 political prisoners.

239 Dismissed Cops in 2002
In the campaign against erring policemen, the national police reported that it dismissed from the service 239 commissioned and non-commissioned officers who were among the 4,447 policemen who were charged administratively for various offenses in 2002. The national police is encouraging the public to report crimes or ask for police assistance in case of emergency by sending a short messaging service (SMS) or text message to 2920.

P300 Billion Illegal Drug Industry 
According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina, the crime syndicates produce and trade P300-billion worth of illegal drugs in the country annually. The Dangerous Drugs Board also disclosed that some 1.8 million Filipinos are hooked on illegal drugs while 1.6 million others are casual users. 

1.8 Million Drug Users
According to the International Narcotics Control Board, the use of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu has become "the most popular drug of abuse" in the Philippines. The Anti-Narcotics Group of the Philippine National Police disclosed that around 1.8 million of the 80 million Filipinos were regular drug users. 

The agency also disclosed that about 70 percent of marijuana supply in the world might be coming from the Cordillera region in northern Luzon. It claimed that marijuana fields have been found among the 300,000 hectares of Cordillera farmlands in the past. In 1999, the police conducted 7,956 raids and arrested 11,004 individuals on drug-related cases.

55,000 Mail Order Brides to US
According to women's group Gabriela, about 55,000 Filipino women have entered the United States as mail order brides as of 1997. Another 20,000 mail order brides went to Australia.

15 Women Beaten Daily
As of 2002, militant women's group Gabriela said at least 15 women and six children are beaten up daily. In 2001, Gabriela recorded 5,668 cases of wife battering and 2,274 cases of maltreatment of children. 

Two-Thirds of Young Workers Had Premarital Sex 
A survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in 2002 showed that 30 percent of the country's young workforce claimed to be sexually active, with 10 percent of the single male respondents claiming to have casual sex. The study titled "Issues Affecting Young Filipino Workers" also showed that 37 percent of young males have had sex with more than one partner – usually with prostitutes – prior to marriage while two-thirds of married female and male workers said they had premarital sex with the people they eventually married. 

In a separate report, a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in the year 2000 showed that 23 percent of 16.5 million Filipinos aged between 15 and 24 have engaged in premarital sex.

According to the TUCP, about 6.5 million Filipino workers were belonging to the 15 to 24 year age group as of 2002.

400,000 Prostitutes
Despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in the country, women's group Gabriela said that around 400,000 Filipinos were working as prostitutes as of 1998.

100,000 Child Prostitutes
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), about 60,000 to 100,000 Filipino children were working as prostitutes as of 1997. Prostitution was present in 37 provinces then. The major child prostitution dens were found in Manila, Angeles City, Puerto Galera, Davao City and Cebu City. The Philippines has reportedly become a favorite destination of pedophiles from the US, Australia and Europe. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has documented 8,335 cases of child abuse from 1991 to 1996. 

400,000 Abortions
A study released by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in February 2003 said that there were 400,000 cases of abortion in the country each year, despite the fact that abortion is illegal here.

Vagina Economy
While hundreds of surviving Filipino women are still demanding justice from the Japanese government for their travails in the hands of Japanese troops who held them as sex slaves during World War 2, thousands of young Filipino women are ironically asking the Philippine government to ease the rules in the deployment of entertainers to Japan.

One government agency that tried to screen the recruitment of young Filipino women as entertainers in Japan eventually found itself in deep controversy. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the country's main agency tasked to uplift standards of non-degree and non-formal skills training of Filipino workers, was under fire for allegedly delaying the issuance of certification to some 20,000 young Filipino women to work as entertainers or "overseas performing artists" in Japan in 2002.

The Philippine Association of Recruitment Agencies Deploying Artists (PARADA), the association of recruitment agencies deploying young Filipino women as entertainers in Japan accused TESDA director general Dante Liban of deliberately delaying the issuance of the so-called Artist Record Books (ARB) to 20,000 prospective overseas performing artists in 2002. Applicants need an ARB to get a visa from the Japanese embassy.

PARADA alleged that a group of people in TESDA were demanding P25,000 for an ARB from applicants who do not want to undergo testing. Without irregularity, the ARB is supposed to cost only P300. Because of the alleged irregularity in TESDA, PARADA claimed that 20,000 Filipino women lost the opportunity of earning US$800 a month in Japan. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that deployment of Filipino entertainers to Japan slowed to 50,000 persons in 2002 from 70,000 in 2001.

But a group of Filipinos said that the single biggest controversy was not the delay in the issuance of ARBs to young Filipino women but the deployment of thousands of them to work as prostitutes or sex workers in other countries. Labor Undersecretary Lucila Lazo even went to the extent of calling it as "vagina economy".

There are around 180,000 Filipino entertainers in Japan sending US$200 million each year. Many of these women were vulnerable to abuse and some driven to prostitution by the Japanese Yakuza gang.

According to the Movement for Responsible Enterprise (MORE), a civic group of concerned Filipinos, the Philippine government provided cover to save Japan from the embarrassment of hosting Filipino prostitutes. "The government made them appear like performing artists, sent to Japan as entertainers," it added.

Filipino entertainers were eventually called "Japayuki", which was an original concoction made by Japanese media referring to young girls working as prostitutes. The Philippine government allows the deployment of Filipino women as young as 18 years old.

The civic group also called on religious and militant groups to join the campaign against the continued deployment of Filipino entertainers abroad. "Let us all destroy this national disgrace. Stop the trafficking of women. Our national honor is priceless. We must defend it at all cost, at all times," it said.
P8 Billion Annual Gambling Revenues
Gambling is a major social problem in the country. Not even the ouster of President Joseph Estrada from Malacanang Palace, on charges of receiving "jueteng" money from syndicates, could abate the problem. Jueteng is said to be a P40-billion business in the Philippines, annually.

While declaring "jueteng" as illegal, the government promotes other forms of gambling such as casino operations, lottery and recently text games. In May 2002 alone, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the government agency tasked to collect gambling revenues, reported an income of P1.81 billion. For the whole of 2000, Pagcor reported a net income of P8 billion, the second largest amount earned by any Philippine company in that year.

Text Gambling
No one seems to be bothered by the growing trend of text gambling in the Philippines. Due to the popularity of short messaging service (SMS) or text messaging in the country, broadcast stations and telecommunication companies have connived to endorse the now hugely popular text games. Here, the participants, mostly television viewers or radio listeners, put their bet in the form of a text message worth P10 each for the chance to win large prizes. Although less pronounced as a form of gambling, text gambling is no different than other number games like lottery, jai alai or jueteng.

Companies Lose P3.5 Billion to Counterfeiting
According to the Brand Protection Association (BPA), a group of 15 multinational companies based in the country, their member companies lost P3.5 billion to makers and distributors of fake brand products in the first three quarters of 2002 alone. As a result, the government also lost P1.3 billion in potential revenues. 

The BPA also disclosed that the government confiscated fake goods amounting to P2.4 billion in the first nine months of 2002 alone, up from P800 million in the whole of 1998. The BPA said that the counterfeiting and piracy problem is not limited to CD's, VCDs and computer softwares but also affects top brands of garments, bags, wallets, medicines, liquified petroleum gas (LPGs), batteries, lamps, bulbs and switches, brandy, vodka, cigarettes, soaps and shampoo, laser printer toner and ink cartridges, sofa beds, hacksaws, toys and electronic goods. 

About 86 makers of product lines are said to be affected by counterfeits, which are boldly sold at formal distribution channels like shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets. "Not because these companies are in on it, but because they are also fooled," Mr. Wallace clarified. The BPA said that the fake drugs and smuggled medicines comprise 30 percent of total products in the pharmaceutical sector. 

The lighting sector is burdened by a 5 to 15 percent penetration of fake products while about 63 percent of softwares sold in the country is considered pirated. Most of the fake products sold in the country, the BPA added, come from China.

P1.1 billion Smuggled Fuel
A study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (AIM-PC) suggested that some P1.1 billion worth of diesel fuel were smuggled into the country between 1999 and 2001. Some 300,000 liters or 2,000 barrels of diesel are reportedly smuggled and sold in the country each day. The policy think tank blamed several owners of barges and tankers/trucks; ship captains and seamen; past and present officials of oil firms; owners of depots and storehouses; and importers and owners of import terminals as responsible for the smuggling. The culprits reportedly got help from officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard.

Alcohol, Most Abused Drug
Liquor is said to be the most abused substance in the Philippines and the world. While there remains to be a concrete study on the effects of alcoholism, many index crimes such as homicides, physical injuries and sex-related offenses are often associated with alcohol. Adding to these are the numerous accidents caused by drunk driving. Many Filipino families were also ruined by alcoholism, with young children exposed to the evils of their drunken fathers. Sadly, the government does not do anything about it. 

San Miguel Corp., a beverage conglomerate that is the top seller of beer and gin, is also the country's largest corporation. In 1998 alone, the company sold 327.6 million bottles of beer.

1.25 Billion Liters of Beer
In 1995, Filipinos consumed 146,000 bottles of wine, making them the top wine drinkers in Asia. A more shocking report is that Filipinos consumed 1.25 billion liters or 3.9 billion bottles of beer in 1998 alone. In the year 2001, beverages comprised nearly 2.3 percent of the average Filipino's expenditures.

A 1994 survey conducted by the University of the Philippines showed that almost 5.3 million or 60 per cent of Filipino youths were drinking alcoholic beverages. Of the total, 4.2 million were males and 1.1 million, females. A conclusion was that there were more alcoholic drinkers than smokers among Filipino youths, who were starting to drink alcohol at the age of 16 or 17 years old. 

21.6 Percent of Students Smoke
A global youth tobacco survey (GYTS) in the Philippines showed that as many as 21.6 percent of Filipino students were smoking cigarettes. The percentage was 32.6 percent among male students and 12.9 percent among female students. Some students believed that smoking would win them more friends and make them look cool. Tobacco comprised 2.4 percent of the average Filipino's expenditures in 2001.

6,100 Tons of Garbage Daily
According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the metropolis produces some 6,100 tons of garbage daily. In 2001, the total volume of recyclable materials that ended up in junkshops and recycling plants reached 120,162 metric tons.

The Cost of Air Pollution
The World Bank has reported that air pollution in the Philippines results in a yearly loss of US$1.5 billion in medical treatment, lost wages, low productivity and deaths that severely impact the Filipinos' quality of life. The World Bank report also said that air pollution results in 2,000 deaths each year and causes US$1.5 billion in lost wages, medical treatment in the four metropolis of Baguio, Manila, Cebu and Davao The World Bank also said that the country needs US$500 million (P25 billion) to implement the Clean Air Act of 1999 over the next 10 years.

In its Philippines Environment Monitor 2002, the World Bank said the government spends US$400 million in health cost as a result of air pollution in four urban centers alone, namely: Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and Baguio where about a quarter of the population lives. Such a health cost is said to be 0.6 percent of the country's gross national product.

The World Bank cited a 2001 survey showing that more than 72 percent of Metro Manila's residents were alarmed by air pollution and 73 percent said they were not aware that the government was doing anything to address it. The World Bank said air pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen oxides continue to spread. 

In its study, the World Bank said fine particle emissions result in about 2,000 premature deaths and 9,000 cases of chronic bronchitis in the country's four largest urban areas annually. These emissions of pollutants were largely blamed on public buses, jeepneys, utility vehicles, trucks and motorcycles that continue to emit visible smoke despite the government's anti-smoke belching campaign. As of 2001, there were 3.9 million land vehicles in the country.

22 Million Filipinos Exposed to Tuberculosis
A World Bank report in 2002 said that around 22 million Filipinos were exposed to tuberculosis. Nearly 740 Filipinos are afflicted with tuberculosis, while 68 die of the disease each day. The report added that Filipinos spend a total of P160 billion to cure the disease each year.

578 AIDS Cases
The Department of Health has recorded 1,761 HIV-positive cases and 578 AIDS cases from January 1984 to September 2002. Most of these cases involved persons aged 20 to 39 years old. However, the US Central Intelligence Agency said that there were about 28,000 Filipinos infected with HIV or AIDS and that 1,200 of died in 1999 alone.

P30 Trillion for Reforestation
In January 2003, a study by the Green Tropics International (GTI) claimed that the Philippines would need P30 trillion to reforest country's denuded mountains in over 85 years.

2.7 Trips by Metro Manilans Each Day
Studies made by the Traffic and Engineering Center (TEC) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) showed that as of 2002, Metro Manilans were making an average of 2.7 trips individually and 12 million trips collectively each day. Before this, a study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1999 showed that the Philippines was losing some P140 billion annually to traffic congestion. It said the national economy was directly losing P40 billion in the forms of gasoline and diesel fuel, man-hours, electricity, salaries of traffic aides and increased expenses for mobile phones. Indirectly, the country was losing P100 billion in the forms of lost business opportunities, depreciated value of real property and increased cause of health care due to air pollution.

Cost of Traffic Problem: US$3.6 Billion
The San Francisco-based Filipinas Magazine reported that traffic congestion costs the Philippine economy some US$3.6 billion annually. Citing a government study, the magazine said the traffic problem, particularly in Metro Manila, results in a US$1 billion loss to wasted gasoline and electricity, man-hours and hiring of traffic aides; and US$2.6 billion to missed business opportunities, reduced sales and investment disincentives. The study added that total loss would exceed US$36 billion in ten years. It noted that the average speed of a vehicle has slowed to 12.6 kilometers per hour today from 18 kilometers per hour ten years ago.

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This was how the corporate watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) described the usual promise made by pseudo-investment firms in luring the public to invest substantial amount in their get-rich-quick schemes.

The SEC warned that pseudo-investment firms that are not registered with the government office have already duped many investors, including foreigners and Filipino-Americans. Some victims, who have placed investments ranging from P10,000 to P50 million, were not able to recover their money and its supposed interest.

The SEC has already issued cease-and-desist orders (CDOs) on the operations of several pseudo-investment firms that have been in operation without licenses. According to the corporate watchdog, some of these firms act as lending investors, investment firms, and financial companies that issue securities to the public. The companies promote their services by telephone calls, mails or personal visits and usually offer investors huge interest on every investment placed, without explaining the risks involved. They also require immediate investments.

The pseudo-investment firms give promise that a minimum investment of P10,000 to P100,000 would earn a monthly interest of 15 percent. Among the promotional gimmicks of these pseudo-investments firms are seminars that use the lines "You can become a millionaire in three years" and "You can turn your financial dreams into reality". Investors usually discover that they have been duped only when the checks issued to them bounced. 

Pyramiding Scam
As of January 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the government corporate watchdog said that investment firms engaged in the so-called pyramiding operation have duped at least 2 million Filipinos of as much as P70 billion.

World's 4th Most Accident-Prone Country
According to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Philippines was the fourth most accident prone country in the world. The two institutions arrived at this conclusion after finding out that some 5,809,986 Filipinos were killed or injured as a result of disasters or man-made calamities over a ten-year period (1992-2001). Ahead of the Philippines in the accident list were China, India and Iran.

On a separate report, the Philippine National Red Cross said 31,835 Filipinos were killed and 94,369,462 others were affected by natural disasters and calamities in a span of 20 years. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Shallow Knowledge of History
Congressman Edmund Reyes of Marinduque province quoted an NFO-Trends survey showing that Filipino youth had a "very shallow appreciation" of the country's history and cultural heritage. The survey showed that only 37 percent of the 1,420 respondents aged 7 to 21 years old, were able to sing the National Anthem and only 28 percent could recite "Panatang Makabayan". When asked to name Filipino heroes, the respondents could only name up to two heroes. 

A Day's Labor For A Burger
In 2001, the minimum daily wage in Metro Manila remained at P250, the highest among the country's 16 regions. 

An office worker in Makati, who was hired on a contractual basis by a job placement agency, did not receive P250 by the end of a working day. After tax, social security and other deductions were made on top of the share deductions by the agency, the office worker went home with only P200.

However, he had to calculate his transportation and meal allowance that amounted to over P100. In other words, what was left in his pocket by the end of the day was less than P100. To treat himself after a hard day's work, he decided to stop by a popular fastfood restaurant. 

He ordered a big burger, a large can of cola and French fries. He was billed P100. Before sleeping at night, he remembered that he had to buy a new pair of shoes. He reached for his pocket and found it empty.

Yet, he considered himself lucky because he was unmarried and was living with his parents who were giving him free breakfast every morning. He was lucky because he had no wife to support and no children to send to school. He was lucky because he was healthy and did not have to buy medicine.

Other people were not as lucky as he was. Many companies were not complying with the Minimum Wage Law and were giving their workers much less. About 4.9 million Filipinos had no jobs while 5.9 million others had no regular source of livelihood as of April 2002. He was lucky, after all.Philippine Trivia

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