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PH did well to protect the poor from pandemic

July 14, 2023 Mario Fetalino Jr. 264 views

Mario FetalinoCritics of former president Rodrigo Duterte say the man is crazy. But his achievements while he was at the helm of the government say otherwise.

The latest of which is the recent report of the World Bank (WB) study which indicates that the emergency assistance of the government during the height of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has prevented 1.8 million Filipinos to fall into poverty.

Prior to this report, Duterte, whose government took much of the job to deal with the pandemic, was the laughing stock of the ‘yellow community’ because of his unique impression of Covid 19 and approach to combat the virus.

But look at what the WB is telling about the measures implemented by the Duterte government during the global outbreak. W B’s report, “Crisis and Recovery: Learning from Covid-19 Economic Impacts and Policy Responses in East Asia”, released in Washington on July 12, cited the Philippines and two other countries whose governments’ pandemic responses were able to mitigate the increase in poverty due to the global health crisis.

“Results from a macro-micro simulation model suggest that as a result of the 9.5 percent drop in GDP (gross domestic product) in 2020, the incidence of poverty would have increased to 23.5 percent had the government not implemented emergency Covid assistance measures. Thanks to assistance programs, the incidence of poverty actually declined by 1.6 percentage points, preventing 1.8 million Filipinos from being poor,” the WB said.

The Philippine government’s provision of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries mitigated food insecurity during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the country’s most stringent lockdown period.

However, the WB found challenges in the past implementation of SAP such as weak delivery systems, which made beneficiaries queue for many hours during the pandemic to receive cash assistance from the government, and delays in the distribution of SAP.

The simulation assumes inefficiencies in the targeting of beneficiaries. If targeting had been perfect, the decline in the incidence of poverty would have been 3.2 percentage points in 2020, it added.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the Philippines harder than most of the countries in the region and severely affected vulnerable groups.

According to the WB, poverty is expected to decline in the coming years but it will remain high compared to the poverty incidence pre-pandemic due to the record economic slump during the height of Covid-19 global health crisis.

World Bank Program Leader for Human Development in East Asia Maria Ana Lugo explained: “Like feeling one’s way across a dark room, Covid-19 put governments and societies in an uncertain place.

With no real play book to work from, countries had to move quickly with limited information and experience to contain both the pandemic and the financial fallout.”

And Duterte’s government did it with flying colors.

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