Countdown to Gold

"POPCOM 50th Anniversary"

February 19, 2019


November 12, 2017

POPCOM: FDA declaration on contraceptives timely, RPRH implementation on catch-up mode

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has issued Resolution 2017-302, dated November 10,2017 which show that all 51 contraceptives up for recertification are non-abortifacient.

This action effectively lifts the 29-month old Supreme Court TRO dated June 2015 since FDA has declared all contraceptives, including the Progestin Subdermal Implant (PSI, Implanon), non-abortifacient.

“The Commission on Population appreciates the diligence of the Food and Drugs Administration in completing and approving the recertification of 51 contraceptives. This could not have come at a better time as depleted contraceptive supplies will now be augmented by over two hundred thousand implants. Annually one million women become new acceptors of modern family planning methods,“ Dr. Juan A Perez III, Executive Director of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) declared.


November 2, 2017

FDA will declare contraceptives non-abortifacient, lifting TRO:

Full implementation of RPRH Law on Track


The Philippine Food and Drug Administration is about to finish its evaluation per Supreme Court decision of 51 contraceptives and will be issuing a resolution anytime soon. Contraceptives found non-abortifacient will then be issued Certificates of Product Registration. This action will effectively lift the 40-month old Supreme Court TRO dating back to June, 2015.

Parallel to the FDA action, the members of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) Drafting Committee of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, led by former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial, signed the revised IRR on October 6, 2017 at the Department of Health (DOH), also in compliance with the Supreme Court final decision on ALFI vs. Garin.

Press Statement
On the Supreme Court decision denying the motion to lift the TRO on contraceptives
Delivered during the press conference and launch of the signature campaign for the lifting of TRO


POPCOM deems it as an unfortunate event for the agency, the advocates of the reproductive health, and the Filipinos we want to empower. But we will live with this challenge and implement the constitutional provisions of the Reproductive Health Law.

The decision impacts about 55% of women age 15-49 who were using contraceptives, based on the 2013 National Development Health Survey (NDHS) data.



SM Foundation has conducted its 100th Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Farmers’ Training Program, a livelihood program of SM Foundation launched in Bacolod in 2007.

The training program has been conducted nationwide from conflict-affected Zamboanga City, typhoon-devastated Eastern Visayas provinces, earthquake-affected Bohol and to the northern provinces of the country. Among these places are: Benguet, Leyte, Samar, Isabela, Laguna, Quezon, Cebu, La Union, Tarlac, General Santos, Cavite, Bulacan, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Ilocos region, and Metro Manila. Close to 2,000 barangays have benefitted from the program, with over 12,000 farmers in attendance.

The season-long program consists of lecture and hands-on training that imparts to the participants the proper way of planting through lessons in modern farming methods and technologies. It has been helping marginalized farmers become self-sufficient by equipping them with updated knowledge in doable agricultural technology. From being solely a means to provide food for participants, the program has evolved into one that also provides values formation, capability building and social entrepreneurship. Many of its graduates are already engaged in agri-business. 


-Malaya  Business Insight

Students may get vouchers


BEGINNING today, the Department ofEducation will accept applications for the voucher program for the first batch of senior high school (SHS) students next year.

Financial assistance of up to P22,500 will be given to those who would like to enroll in a private high school, college or university, state or local university or college, or technical-vocational school for Grade 11 as the DepEd implements fully the K-12 program with the introduction of SHS.

Junior high students from private schools who are beneficiaries of the DepEd’s education service contracting (ESC) program are also qualified for the voucher program but they will receive only 80 percent of its full value or up to P18,000.

The deadline for applications is on Jan. 15 for manual submissions and Feb. 12 for online submissions. The DepEd Private Education Assistance Committee will release the list of beneficiaries on its website on March 18.


-Philippine Daily Inquirer


Tacloban women take charge

By: Danny Petilla

(7th of a series)

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—On a recent November morning, six women were huddled together inside a newly constructed, rustic little hut in Barangay (village) Bagacay, 10 kilometers north of this city.

Shelving their talk about politics, the women—all survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan)—were suddenly confronted with a problem: How to provide themselves and their families with permanent roofs over their heads.

Ironically, these women had reason to be proud. They just helped build a home for a 73-year-old widow named Serapia Medalla, doing it with little help from the government.

A pensioner and street sweeper who earns less than P3,000 a month, Medalla became the first recipient in September of a prototype low-cost, typhoon-resistant home envisioned in the Bagacay Housing Project.

The project—named after the village where the humble homes will rise—uses an existing government template to provide low-cost housing for poor families who are mostly Yolanda survivors.

While local governments—including the city of Tacloban—are facing roadblocks in securing land rights to permanently settle Yolanda’s homeless, the women of Bagacay have secured a P104-million loan from the Social Housing and Finance Corp., a government-owned firm, to buy a 3.5-hectare lot where about 50 earth-friendly houses would be built.

“One down, 49 to go,” said Dalen Palami, lead coordinator of the Bagacay project.

A sister to her more famous sibling, Philippine Azkals team manager Dan Palami, the 42-year-old social worker is showing the challenge her group must face: A seeming lack of funds to build the other 49 homes.

Financed by various donors, the houses are given free of charge but the chosen recipients have to pay an average of P706 for 25 years for the right to own the land their houses are built on.

With barely 400 finished of the close to 15,000 permanent homes to be built in this city, the problem of Yolanda’s homeless is foremost on the minds of these women.

But unlike most of Yolanda’s victims who are dependent on decisions made for them by the government, the Bagacay women are taking charge and making sure their plans for their future are met.

“We are tired of the government neglecting us. We are just doing what is good for us and for our future,” said Virgie Lingan, 42, a widow and village councilwoman at Barangay 68 in Anibong district.

As community organizers, Lingan and housewives Arlene Ibañez, 35, Dolorosa Camenforte, 48, Lorna Lagario, 52, and Linda Lagario, 61, are the prime movers behind the Bagacay project.

Palami has found a kindred spirit in Eva Marie de los Reyes, a classmate since kindergarten, who shares with her a passion for rural development work and environmental activism.

Group of dreamers

Leaving their comfortable lives in Manila, Palami and De los Reyes—both Tacloban natives—came back to help their city heal and rebuild.

They joined hands with engineers, architects and urban planners—mostly college friends from the University of the Philippines in Quezon City—to get the Bagacay project moving.

“We realized that these women needed help. And they needed permanent homes in safe, secure and sustainable neighborhoods,” said De los Reyes, 42.

To this group of dreamers, “build back better” is not just an empty mantra—it is a mind-set, a way of life they want to impart to the women of Bagacay.

From recycling wastewater to flush their toilets and growing vegetables in their backyards, to harnessing energy from the sun for their lighting needs and the wind for cooling their homes, this breed of homeowners is creating a new way of life.

“We learned a lot of lessons from the Yolanda disaster. We don’t want to make the same mistakes again,” Ibañez said.

Built on raised concrete bases as protection against flooding and with high-rising roofs to ensure natural cooling—plus cross-braised bamboo walls that resist strong winds—the three-by-five-meter huts and their typhoon-resistant designs comply with the national building code, according to Minerva and Albert Rosel, the architects who designed the houses to be used in the Bagacay project.

“With this design, the homeowner is provided with just the bare necessities, the rest are just extra baggage,” said Minerva Rosel.

Waiting for funds

Palami said the hardships the organizers experienced during the monster storm had fired up these women and their families to change their lives for the better.

“Because of that, the chances of these women defaulting on their monthly mortgage are remote,” Palami said, adding there were enough livelihood opportunities in Bagacay.

While waiting for funding to build each house, these women now live in “butterfly” houses—so called for the way they easily open up and be ready for use.

These prefabricated houses are provided free by the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation headed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and business tycoons Manuel Pangilinan and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

Lingan’s neighbors and other volunteers have started the groundwork on the project’s second house. Two donors from Australia—True Freedom in Christ Church and Clothesline Pty. Ltd.—are paying for the construction of Lingan’s house.

“Finally, I will have a house that my three children and I can call home,” said Lingan, who will start paying for her 25-year loan in January.

That’s two houses built—48 more to go.

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Where are the poor?

By: Ramon Casiple


  • A poor Filipino girl holds bread and drinks she received during a feeding program by Dominican nuns in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The weekly program gives a free meal to homeless people around the community. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Associated Press/Aaron Favila - A poor Filipino girl holds bread and drinks she received during a feeding program by Dominican nuns in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The weekly program givesa free meal to homeless people around the community. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Politicians invariably cite the poor in their electoral spiels. Invariably, too, they speak of the poor as their constituency, their reason for running is to liberate the poor from poverty, and that they are God’s gift to the poor. It will be no different this coming 2016 elections.

But, who are the poor? If the official government statistics are to be the basis, these are the 25.2% of Filipinos who earn less than $1 a day in 2012. This is one of four persons living in the country or more than 25 million people. If self-rated poverty indicator (by the Social Weather Stations) is used, there are 55% of Filipinos who considered themselves poor. This is a bit more than half of the population.

The poor, according to government statistics, spend almost 80% of their income on basic necessities such as food, home rental, utilities, and transportation. They make do with the rest on spending for education, health, leisure and personal care. They do not pay income taxes but pay taxes nonetheless through the E-VAT system.

Higher than the national average of the poor are found in the basic sectors of agriculture (38.3%), fisheries (39.2%), children (35.2), and self-employed and unpaid family workers (29%). In terms of regions, most of the poor are found in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Region 5 (Bicol region), Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region 11 (Caraga), Region 12 (Davao Provinces), and Region 13 (SocSarGen). Most are in the Visayas and Mindanao, far from the seat of power in Manila. They are also mostly places where the internal conflicts are more intense, the warlords are in power, and government presence is weak. Investment and development are also lacking in these areas.

This is not to say that there are no poor in other places. Even in Metro Manila, the poor are everywhere. They may not be in the news in normal times, but during elections, they are the darling of the political media. Their problems become the problems of the incumbent candidates while those in opposition portray themselves as champions of the poor. In between, politicians observe the traditional appearance in the kasal, binyag, libing (KBL or marriage, baptism, burial) of their constituents.

The poor become powerful during election period precisely because they are the overwhelming 90% of voters on election day. However, through all the regimes and presidents, their power remains incapable of changing their lives. Remaining disorganized and mired in the myths of the pro-poor political elite, their votes are subject to vote-buying, cheating and violence. Worst of all, their own candidates are prevented from running by sheer inability to raise enough funds to campaign. Elections have become the hunting ground for the moneyed elite, showbiz personalities with financiers, or corrupt politicians with their stash of gold.

Where, then, are the poor in Philippine elections? Nowhere, it seems.

PH ranks 67th in global ‘prosperity index’


By: Ben O. de Vera


The Philippines slid by a notch to 67th place in this year’s Prosperity Index of think-tank Legatum Institute, which measures not only a country’s wealth but also the well-being of its people. The country was in the lower half of the rankings—75th in entrepreneurship and opportunity (up from 79th last year), 76th in education (down from 73rd), 97th in health (up from 98th), and 111th in safety and security (up from 112th). INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

The Philippines slid by a notch to 67th place in this year’s Prosperity Index of think-tank Legatum Institute, which measures not only a country’s wealth but also the well-being of its people. The country was in the lower half of the rankings—75th in entrepreneurship and opportunity (up from 79th last year), 76th in education (down from 73rd), 97th in health (up from 98th), and 111th in safety and security (up from 112th). INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines slid by a notch to 67th place in this year’s Prosperity Index of think-tank Legatum Institute, which measures not only a country’s wealth but also the well-being of its people.

The 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index released last week covered 142 economies and the Philippines’ ranking was similar to the country’s position in 2012.

This year’s rank, however, was a decline from 2013’s 66th place. The past six years saw the Philippines’ ranking slide from 61st in 2009, 64th in 2010 and 66th in 2011.

Among the 29 Asia-Pacific countries covered by the index, the Philippines was 16th, behind New Zealand (3rd overall), Australia (7th), Singapore (18th), Japan (19th), Hong Kong (20th), Taiwan (22nd), South Korea (25th), Malaysia (45th), Thailand (51st), Mongolia (52nd), China (54th), Kazakhstan (55th), Vietnam (56th), Uzbekistan (57th) and Sri Lanka (62nd).

Only Indonesia (71st), Kyrgyzstan (74th), Azerbaijan (79th), Georgia (80th), Laos (93rd), Tajikistan (94th), Armenia (95th), Nepal (96th), India (102nd), Bangladesh (104th), Cambodia (112th), Pakistan (127th) and Afghanistan (137th) had lower rankings than the Philippines.

In the index’s eight “core pillars of prosperity,” the Philippines ranked the highest—in 40th place—in the economy sub-index. This year’s ranking in economy, however, was a notch lower than last year’s 39th place.

It should be noted that last year, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.2 percent, one of the fastest in the region. This year, GDP is projected to expand by 6.5-7.5 percent.

As far as the economy is concerned, Legatum Institute noted that Philippines was among the five biggest exporters of information and communications technology products in the world, alongside its Asian neighbors Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and China. The country also had the biggest share of high-tech exports to total manufactured exports, at 49 percent, Legatum Institute said.

The Philippines landed in 50th spot in terms of personal freedom (down from 44th place in 2013), 55th in governance (up from 56th), and 59th in social capital (up from 61st).

In four other sub-indices, the country was in the lower half of the rankings—75th in entrepreneurship and opportunity (up from 79th last year), 76th in education (down from 73rd), 97th in health (up from 98th), and 111th in safety and security (up from 112th).

Overall, Norway topped the 2014 Prosperity Index, followed by Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Finland, Netherlands and the United States.

At the bottom 10 slots were cellar-dweller Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Burundi, Yemen, Afghanistan, Togo, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

According to Legatum Institute, its Prosperity Index “is the only global measurement of prosperity based on both income and well-being,” hence it claims to be “the most comprehensive tool of its kind and is the definitive measure of global progress.”

“Is a nation’s prosperity defined solely by its GDP? Prosperity is more than just the accumulation of material wealth; it is also the joy of everyday life and the prospect of an even better life in the future. This is true for individuals as well as nations,” Legatum Institute pointed out.

In the 2014 index, Legatum Institute said the global performance on each of the eight core pillars of prosperity “has improved” during the past six years mainly on the back of strides made toward achieving democracy by a number of countries as well as initiatives in making education and healthcare more accessible to the poor.

Legatum Institute is based in London and describes itself as “a charitable public policy think-tank whose mission is to help people lead more prosperous lives.”


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Manuals and Questionnaires for Resource Flows Survey (RFS) 2014

Resource Flow Survey for Corporation

Resource Flow Survey for Government

Resource Flow Survey for Insurance

Resource Flow Survey for National Consultant

Resource Flow Survey for Non-Government Organization (NGO)

Ticket out of rural poverty: Competent and sound project management

By: Rolando Dy

BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS (BCA) is a technique for evaluating a project or investment by comparing the economic benefits with the economic costs. As experts know, investments drive economic growth. The quality of project or investment determines their impact on society, especially the poor.

BCA has several objectives. “First, BCA can be used to evaluate the economic merit of a project. Second, the results from a series of BCAs can be used to compare competing projects. BCA can be used to assess business decisions, to examine the worth of public investments, or to assess the wisdom of using natural resources or altering environmental conditions. Ultimately, BCA aims to examine potential actions with the objective of increasing social welfare.” (

Discounting, a tool of BCA, converts all benefits and costs into their values in the present. It is based on the premise that a peso received today is worth more than a peso received in the future. Or a peso received in the future is less that same peso received in the present. That is, the future value of the peso is discounted.

The rate at which a future value is discounted is closely related to the rate at which present values are compounded, or the interest rate. The BCA metrics include net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and benefit-cost ratio (BCR).
In the Philippines, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) uses 15% as its threshold IRR for projects at inflation-adjusted values. In other words, the project IRR should exceed that IRR for a project to pass. It is also the discount rate that makes the project NPV positive or negative, or the BCR to pass or fail.

Is BCA applied religiously in government? NEDA certainly does. And most of the multilateral funding agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank do as well.

My experience as project economist shows that the project IRR or NPV is as good as the assumptions. Optimistic assumptions of benefits and costs increase the IRR or NPV. Pessimistic assumptions reduce them. There are also uncontrollable factors such as world commodity price fluctuations of outputs and inputs.

Foreign-assisted projects go through rigorous evaluations. Even then, some projects will not achieve the targeted IRR. Failure to achieve projected benefits, cost overruns and implementation delays can wreak havoc on the IRR. It would be interesting to know the causes of success or failure.
Let us turn to the country’s favorite projects: irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and post-harvest facilities.

The annual irrigation budget comes up to about P25 billion a year. This is the largest chunk of the agriculture budget. Most of these are for locally funded projects where impact evaluation needs improvement.

Irrigation projects can fail due to several factors: targeted yields and areas are not achieved, delays in implementation due to poor contractor’s performance, delays in right-of-way acquisition, cost overruns, slow release of funds, etc.

Perhaps, one factor why a number of locally funded irrigation projects fail is the lack of rigorous analytics that go into them. Some well-connected politicians lobby for their pet projects. High irrigated areas and high yields are assumed even if water is short. Quality specifications of civil works are ignored.

FMRs are favorites of the politicians for the right or wrong reasons. Without proper monitoring of construction and specifications, they are gone after one to two rainy seasons.

FMRs are drivers of agriculture development through increased production areas and yields. But FMRs must connect farms to markets, not the butt-of-joke “farm to my resort.”

Post-harvest losses are high in the Philippines. They are results of bad roads, poor farm practice, and lack of PHFs. PHFs have become a good excuse of “commissioners.” Recall the huge budget for flat-bed driers by the past administrations. Many of the driers had stopped working after six months. They were of poor design. They can be costly to operate. Farmers accepted them because they were free. Some well-meaning corn centrals also ceased operations due to poor institutional design.

Undoubtedly, there is a need for these public investments in the countryside. However, if the fixed assets are poorly designed or civil works poorly implemented, or funds are stolen, they will be a massive misuse of resources. Only the elite benefits.

Large amounts of money have been wasted on many such projects while the poorer upland and fishing communities are stuck in poverty.

One solution is for project beneficiaries to have a strong say in the choice of projects in their communities. There should also be monitoring and impact evaluation by independent parties. The Department of Public Works and Highways is doing strict monitoring of road construction these days. It can be done if there is political will.

Rural poverty can be solved if there is sound resource allocation. But it needs transparent and accountable implementation of projects. It needs competent project managers who are appointed because of merit, not party connections. It appears that while limited funds are constraints in rural development, the misuse of scarce resources is a far greater concern.

Rolando T. Dy is the chair of the MAP Agribusiness and Countryside Development Committee, and the executive director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia & the Pacific.

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Based on the 2015 Census of Population with a Total Population of 100,979,303 and 2010-2015 Population Growth Rate of 1.72 and calculation using Geometric Equation

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