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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

UNDP exec says RP poverty down but inequality rising

By Estrella Torres
Reporter/Business Mirror/Oct 16

The head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines said rosy figures on Philippine economic growth do not trickle down to Filipinos suffering from extreme poverty, and only widened disparity among people.

Nileema Noble, resident representative of the UNDP in the Philippines, said both the Global Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Philippine Midterm MDG progress report launched last week revealed significant progress in halving the proportion of people who live on $1 a day.

“In addressing other MDG goals, what is also clear is that the gains in reducing extreme poverty have been accompanied by rising inequality… the benefits of growth have not been equally shared. The deprivation that characterizes the daily lives of fellow citizens will most certainly compromise our shared future,” said Noble in her speech at the opening on Monday of the regional workshop on strengthening human- rights mechanisms.

The three-day forum organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights seeks to help governments in the region in establishing national human-rights institutions as well as strengthening the functions of existing ones.

Chairman Purificacion Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines, meanwhile, noted the importance of the establishment of national human- rights institutions in Asia to help governments address human rights in transborder dimensions. She said common human-rights concerns in Asia include suppression of terrorism while respecting human rights; human-rights aspects of trafficking in persons; protection of the human rights of migrants and migrant workers; implementation of economic, social and cultural rights; and right to development and the enhancement of human-rights education.

“Asia is the biggest and most culturally diverse region in the world. [But] it is the only region that does not have a regional human-rights mechanism,” Quisumbing lamented.

Member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will sign the historic Asean charter in Singapore next month. The charter seeks to establish a human-rights council that would cover human-rights violations cases in all the member-countries.