ADRi vTHD: “Bridging the Gap: Reducing Inequality in the Philippines for Inclusive Growth”

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the country’s crippling socio-economic inequality. While for many Filipinos, such inequality is an accepted reality in life, the pandemic brought the issue front and center of national conversations. Long-lasting government lockdowns caused high levels of unemployment, worrying inflation rates, and an economic recession. Amid this situation, only a small sector of society was prepared to deal with unexpected shocks.  

A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in September 2021 found that 10.0% of Filipino families, which translated to 2.5 million families, experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months. While the hunger average for the first three quarters of 2021 reached 13.5% and was lower than that of the previous year, it has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s poverty rate jumped to 23.7% in the first half of 2021 due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that the number of poor Filipinos rose from 22.26 million in 2018 to 26.14 million in 2021. Indeed, despite some improvements in the overall economy, pandemic-induced socio-economic challenges persist on the ground, two years after the public health crisis began. These are the issues that will be inherited and need to be addressed by the country’s next leaders. 

In light of this, the Stratbase ADR Institute organized a virtual town hall discussion (vTHD) entitled, “Bridging the Gap: Reducing Inequality in the Philippines for Inclusive Growth” on 31 March 2022, Thursday, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM (Manila Time). 

Given the perennial nature of inequality in the Philippines, academics have endeavored to offer practical, sound solutions, which this event will aim to share with the public. Indeed, social inequalities can become exacerbated and multiplied exponentially in times of crises. Unfortunately, as seen in the country’s COVID-19 experience, the most vulnerable groups became collateral damage of the government’s knee-jerk measures in response to the public health emergency. While inequality is a deeply complex issue with no clear-cut solution, good governance, political reforms, social investments, and multi-sector efforts, especially with the private sector, are consistently considered essential steps to be taken.  

Program

Opening Remarks
Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute

Policy Recommendations for Inclusive Growth

Reducing Inequality in the Philippines: Rationale and Reforms
Dr. Ronald Mendoza
Dean, Ateneo School of Government

Promoting an Investment-Driven Economy Through Good Governance
Dr. Charlotte Justine Diokno-Sicat
Research Fellow, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)
President, Philippine Economic Society (PES)

Improving the Philippine Agriculture Sector by Establishing Food Production Areas
Dr. Carlos Primo “CP” David
Professor, National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines Diliman
Trustee and Program Convenor, Stratbase ADR Institute
Convenor, Philippines Business for Environmental Stewardship

Stakeholder Perspectives

Improving Filipinos’ Quality of Life Through Education Reforms 
Mr. Christopher “Happy” Tan 
Chief Operating Officer, PHINMA Education; 
Board Member, Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities 

Transforming the Public Sector for Inclusive Growth 
Mr. Francisco del Rosario, Jr. 
Chairman, Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) 

Closing Remarks 
Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute 

Host & Moderator
Mr. Francesco Javier “Paco” Pangalangan
Executive Director, Stratbase ADR Institute

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