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Millennium Development Goals (Impossible or Not?

) Preliminary Opinion Allow me to begin my views on the millennium development goals (MDG) created by the UN through the signed MILLENIUM DECLARATION by the 189 member States, by quoting from the Christian bible proverb that says "when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn (Prov. 29:2)". Quoting further, a ruler may have the kindest and the noblest intentions to lead, but when "he walks in the counsel of the wicked, or stands in the way of the crooked, or sits with the scornful (Psalm 1:1,2)" his integrity will be clouded with doubt and his ability and judgement to decide on what is right for the good of a nation may well be hindered, causing instead sufferings of countless lives for reason of his ineffectiveness in governance brought by self-gratifying and self-ambition motivated counsellors and advisers. Facts The 8 MDG created during the said UN declaration is indeed a very noble "blueprint" in achieving its goal of alleviating human suffering, improve the quality of living and saving lives of many (UN MDG report 2012). The declarations primary recipient of development initiatives are those underdeveloped member states. In the MDG watch released by NSCB, Philippines as of July 2010, the targets in several MDG goals are showing high probability of being realized by 2015, but several other significant goals are lagging too behind, showing very low probability of attaining its aimed realization. Amongst other thing that lags well behind of the other MDG goals, in Philippine setting for example, is Goal no.2, to ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION, with the aim of ensuring that by 2015 all children, regardless of gender will be able to complete the full course of primary schooling. The MDG indicator for July 2010 shows the net enrollment ratio in primary education (indicator 2.1) to have gained only 0.5 since 1990 until 2010, as compared from its target of 100.00 for 2015. The actual base data reference under the 84.6 in 1990, and has risen only at 85.1 for the year 2010. Other significant indicators such as proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 6 (indicator 2.2), primary completion rate (2.3) and literacy rate of ages 15 to 24 (2.4) are way too far from its target for the year 2015. Further, the NSCB released an announcement posted on 08 June 2012 stating that the MDG Goal no.2 remained low in terms of their probability of achieving its target. On the other hand, MDG Goal numbers 4 (reducing child mortality), 6 (combat malaria, HIV/ADS and other diseases) although death rate associated with tuberculosis has been lagging behind of the other goal 6 indicators from its original data of 39.1 in 1990, to have dropped at only 33.0 as of 2003, way too far from its target of 0.0 by the year 2015, 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), and 8 (developing a global partnership for development) shows higher probability of achieving its goals by the year 2015. Personal Views Allow me to focus my views on MDG Goal no.2 for this subject.

What could be the reason why Goal no.2 fails to attain value close enough to its target? Is this solely because Filipino families would not want to send their children at least to primary school? Are the Filipino children simply too lazy to come to school? Or is there a connection with other factors among the MDG goals that may have not been clearly defined with respect to its base line reference? Sourcing my information from the media, several TV and radio programs which conducts interviews to Filipino families living in the slums and rural areas of the country, most would say one common issue the need to survive, that is, to first fill their stomach. Basic science that deals and defines human needs primarily place the basic and essential need of man for FOOD, SHELTER AND CLOTHING in the first list. The rest including education only comes next. Poverty and hunger continues to swallow most Filipino. Several children as early as 5 or 6 years old would be going to garbage stilts to collect something to sell as scraps for food rather than go to school and read books. As tender as their age, they no longer see the value of education that may change their lives in the future because the cloud of present sufferings they are living on keeps them to focus instead on how to survive the present day. The children losses the ability to appreciate the future that education may bring them because of their present living condition. Are we to blame their parents? What if these children are also the offspring of parents who themselves are victims of the same fate? It has become then, a vicious cycle. Unless this is put to stop, the attainment of MDG goal no. 2 would really be next to impossible. Government Expenditures The Philippine government shares the common practice with other world governments of allocating its expenditures based on congressional approved budgets. Most of these allocations are proportioned based on government priorities. Education shares around 17% from the Philippine national budget. Others are likewise allocated to several State concerns such as defense, health care and infrastructure development. Of the entire budget allocated however, one budget remains untouched in terms of these appropriation initiatives, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as pork barrel. The pork barrel in its original definition is a wooden container used for storing pig meats in brine. This has been the practice of Americans until the 18th century. Pork barrel became obsolete when refrigeration was introduced. During those times, these pork meats in brine (salt) are distributed to plantation slaves in huge barrels. The distribution practice used for this ration would be that slaves would rush to the barrel hustling against each other and would strive to get as much as he can for himself. As the term implies negative connotation, members of the US Congress would stampede to get their local appropriation items into the bills would behave in the same way as the slaves would rush into the pork barrels. The Supreme Court of the Philippines declared that the use of the pork barrel is legally valid and even referred to it as the constitutional exercise of the congressional POWER OF THE PURSE (See Phil. Constitutional Association vs. Enriquez, 235 Supreme Court Reports Annotated 507). As legal as it may seemed to be, and even comes to have a noble intention according to an article written by House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles and Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (Chair., Comm on

Appropriations) Understanding the pork barrel, most of these pork barrel expenditures are spent on so called priority programs and projects that do not directly address the solution that may help the Philippines come closer at least to its target MDG agenda for 2015. For example, under the Special Provision No.1, XLVI, PDAF page 950, Gen Appropriations Act for 2008, under education, the primary allocation of the fund for education was the purchase of IT equipment. The acquisition of IT equipment for educational use is indeed able to upgrade the educational access and facilities of our schools, but it may not be sufficient enough to motivate out of primary school children to come to classrooms. Worse of all, several of these projects will end up only to beautify the name of politicians in their respective constituents in view of being re-elected. Imagine a congressman who would build a million worth of Foot Bridge out of this pork barrel where he can place his larger than life ID photo while glorifying his own name, at the expense of the childrens suffering in hunger and lack of education. CONCLUDING REMARKS The main problem that clouds the possibility of achieving the 8 point MDG goals would be the government and policy makers themselves, when the objective of their governance is self-gratification rather than public service, as we say public office is a public trust. The government through its policy makers should re-align their expenditure policies, and re-modify the application of the congressional pork barrel so that the proper wealth distribution may be realized by all segments of the country.