Spotlight on… Social Watch Philippines

Since it was set-up in 1997, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) has annually put forward a strategy of advocacy, awareness-building, monitoring, organizational development and networking. Based in Quezon City, one of the major cities in Metro Manila, the network that started with twenty seven civil society organizations and individuals has now grown to embrace more than a hundred citizens’ group, networks  and individuals. 

SWP’s work includes monitoring progress and shortfalls in social development based on the government’s commitment to various international conferences and agreements as consolidated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and which is embodied in the Citizens’ Report on the MDGs which is published periodically.  It evaluates policies, recommends programs and engages government agencies, international financial institutions and the UN System to address key poverty issues and human development concerns.  Furthermore,  SWP’s work in budget advocacy across the years, popularly known as the Alternative Budget Initiative, has led to increased budgetary allocations in the areas of education, health, agriculture and the environment, and has been cited by government as a pioneering effort of citizen’s participation in public finance.

At the local level, SWP promotes and popularizes the MDGs in different parts of the country through a series of island consultations and capacity-building activities. It also developed a Local Monitoring System which was implemented in four pilot areas (Central Luzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas and Central Mindanao). It partners with local NGOs and academic institutions and networks with local governments to support its monitoring and advocacy initiatives.

In time for the 10th anniversary of the MDGs, SWP published a citizen’s Shadow Report on the state of MDG progress in the country. The report entitled “Winning the numbers, losing the war: The other MDG report 2010” found that the Philippines is in a worse poverty situation in 2010 than when it started on the MDGs in 2000. “We are losing the war on poverty. Many would still be left behind, and their numbers are simply staggering by any count,” said Isagani Serrano, SWP convenor and editor of the citizens’ report on the MDGs. Download the document here:

On the other hand, Marivic Raquiza, lead writer on poverty (MDG 1), pointed out that, in the first place, the country has a very low poverty threshold of 41 peso per person per day, which is not enough to cover the food, medical, education, transportation and rental expenses of any person. “The poor can be found not just below, but also above the poverty line because of the unrealistically low poverty threshold,” Raquiza said.

Former national treasurer Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones, SWP lead convenor, states that it is obvious that the financing gap on the MDGs is a major reason why the poverty situation is worse in 2010 than when the country committed to the MDGs in 2000.

Citizens' groups members of Social Watch Philippines handed over the shadow report on the MDGs to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in an attempt to influence the Filipino annual planning and budgeting processes and the new regime’s six-year blueprint.

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