OF VICE PRESIDENT NOLI DE CASTRO
on Equity and Development
am pleased to join you today in this opening session of the Forum on
Equity and Development. I congratulate the sponsors of this
activity, namely the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and
Development, Development Academy of the Philippines, Philippine
Institute for Development Studies, and the World Bank.
the time out from the day-to-day problems of our nation to reflect on
the real issues that affect Philippine development. At least, in
this forum, we do not have to worry about who is pro and who is
against. I am confident that all of us here are one in saying that
we are all pro-equity, pro-development, and pro-people.
understand that the rest of the day will be devoted to various topics
pertaining to equity and development. These topics are connected by
an overriding theme focusing on the importance of equity in achieving
sustainable human development for the Philippines. This is indeed a
big task and I am happy to contribute my thoughts on these issues.
Meaning of Equity on the Ground
the reading materials provided to me for this forum was a thick
document entitled World Development Report 2006, Equity and
me if I tell you that I have read the entire 320-page report,
including the index.
I would be
you and tell you that I have only read the 18-page overview, which I
understand contains the major points in the thicker document.
am I telling you this? Because as I was reading the overview, I
realized that at our level, at the level of the policy-makers and the
academicians, we may all agree on general principles and strategies,
and even on institutional arrangements and specific programs and
real test of
whatever we do is how well our actions really touch the lives of the
people on the ground.
contained in these papers will not mean anything if at the end of the
day, the poor remain poor and the hopeless remain hopeless.
I take note of
the nuances between
equity and equality, of the former pertaining to opportunities to
pursue a life according to an individual’s choice and the latter to
outcomes in the distribution of income and assets.
urban poor, who has to deal with the threat of deprivation day in and
day out, such nuances would not really matter.
the effect of
inequality in opportunities and incomes is very real --- in fact, it
is as real as the absence of a hot meal or the inability of their
children to go to school.
this reality is
also the reason why we are all here today. We want to see how we can
translate all these good reports into policies that work on the
ground and projects that can improve the lives of poor Filipinos.
me digress a bit and talk about a more familiar sectoral concern: that
of providing housing for the informal settlers.
are all aware that as Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development
Coordinating Council, I am tasked to oversee the relocation of
squatters along the Northrail right-of-way.
needed in order to pursue the development of the railway system north
of metro manila, which will make the growth corridors in Central
Luzon more viable.
me, however, the relocation of informal settlers is more than just an
appendage to a major development project.
opportunity to mobilize massive public and private resources to
provide greater opportunities for the urban poor. With this in mind,
I approached the relocation along three dimensions.
first deals with providing tenurial security. We developed housing
sites in areas that have been identified by the beneficiaries
themselves. In most cases, the beneficiaries wanted in-city
relocation. We agreed to their request, knowing fully well that if
we transfer them to places where they do not want to go, they will
end up returning to Metro Manila as homeless families.
second dimension is total community development. We have stopped
creating resettlement sites. Instead, we are building communities,
places where the resettled families will feel happy and secure. In
the end, these families themselves will contribute to their own
The third deals with economic and
social upliftment. With the support of the private sector,
particularly business organizations like the the Federation of
Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the developer
groups, cause oriented groups, and other private stakeholders, we are
able to harness resources and open economic opportunities for the
date, we have been quite successful in developing the Northrail
We have not
been spared our share of issues and problems. but I believe that
these will all be addressed as long as we continue to work together
with the real stakeholders in the program --- THE BENEFICIARIES
communities are not only community-based projects. They are in fact
community-led initiatives, with government and the private sector
providing support and resources. the people themselves charted their
own destinies --- and they have been doing very well.
friends and co-workers, I have not worked in government long enough
to have an inside view of the long-term outcome of policies and
of my professional life was spent outside of the government,
primarily in public service and public communication. But I assure
you that I am fully exposed to the effect of all these policies and
programs on the common “tao”.
politics involved in crafting these interventions by the State. And
pushing for equity and development will be no easy and fun ride in
i remain optimistic. while political forces in this country may
differ on positions regarding personalities, there remains a broad
consensus on the need for equity and development.
political economist would say, the political groups have realized
that equity is not only a requirement for economic development. It is
a moral imperative. it is a prerequisite to the establishment of a
social order where every individual can reach his or her full
us, therefore, remain focused on our goal.
Let us not
political issues to divide the unity of purpose that gatherings like
for all of us, whether we support this government, or the next.
you and good day to all of you.
Office of the Vice President (OVP)
Management Information Services
Division (MISD). All rights reserved.