Honorable Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Secretary Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD);
Ambassador Amanda Gorely, Australian Ambassador;
Ms. Lotta Sylwander, Country Representative United Nations Children’s Fund; and
Dr. Dennis Mapa, Dean School of Statistics University of the Philippines.
Friends, colleagues, partners, ladies and gentlemen I am very pleased to be able to join you today to celebrate the launch of Listahanan 2015, an instrument that places the Philippines at the forefront of global experience in national household targeting for poverty reduction. The Philippines has taken significant steps forward in transparency and good governance, and Listahanan stands out among the factors that are helping to drive these advances. Why? Because Listahanan has been an anchor for programs that are targeting public funding for poverty reduction where it is needed most – to the poorest and the most vulnerable.
This is an important day for social protection in the Philippines, for transparency and good governance, for thousands of employees of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and, most importantly, for millions of poor and vulnerable families across the Philippines.
The launch of Listahanan 2015 marks the successful completion of an enormous effort undertaken in 2015 by DSWD with support from the World Bank and the Australian Government. This effort has not been easy. It has required collecting information from 15.1 million households -- some 75 percent of all Filipino households. The scale of this survey is virtually unparalleled in the world.
Once the enormous trove of data was collected, the next steps included digitizing the data, processing it, validating the results with communities, addressing complaints and grievances and, finally, identifying poor and vulnerable families. Such an undertaking would have stretched the capacity of any country in the world. It has entailed months of hard preparatory work, drawing input from some 40,000 interviewers; a wide range of enumerators and supervisors; tens of thousands of DSWD staff along with staff from Local Government Units; and, finally, Pantawid parent leaders who also contributed to carrying out this massive task.
A heartfelt congratulations to all for a job well done.
I’d like to emphasize that the significance of the achievement we are celebrating today extends far beyond the Philippines to the global level. Indeed, the Philippines and Brazil are the only two countries in the world to have succeeded in establishing such a comprehensive data base or “social registry” to identify poor and vulnerable beneficiaries of government programs. Grounded in empirical studies, the World Bank recognizes Listahanan as a leading “good practice example” for a growing number of countries that aspire to introduce such registries.
This brings me back to my original question: why is Listahanan so important? I would like to highlight four key reasons.
· First, by enabling the Government to target programs to the poor and vulnerable, Listahanan is increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of public spending. It is also improving the governance of Social Protection in the Philippines by removing political patronage from distribution of public resources to citizens. Let me elaborate. Listahanan tells the Government who poor families are and where they live. It ensures that the intended beneficiaries of public funds for poverty reduction have names and faces. This enables objective selection of the beneficiaries of government programs through the use of transparent, objective and verifiable criteria, validated by the community, to estimate poverty in Filipino families. Using the so called “proxy means test method,” poverty lines determined by the Philippines Statistics Service and community validation, Listahanan 2015 has identified 5.1 million households who are poor. Targeting anti-poverty programs to those 5.1 million households will be critical to realizing the aspiration to end poverty in the Philippines within a generation. Listahanan is the key platform for such targeting, just as Listahanan 2010 was used to identify beneficiaries of government programs.
· Second, Listahanan is important because its impact is far-reaching across the Philippines. Listahanan is currently used by 59 national agencies to target programs where they are needed most, including the Pantawid, and the PhilHealth subsidized health insurance. It enables transparent and fair selection of beneficiaries of government programs. How? Programs draw initial lists of poor and vulnerable families from Listahanan, and the families are then checked for program specific eligibility requirements. When the families meet the requirements, they receive the benefits. In addition to Pantawid and PhilHealth, Listahanan is also used by 1,095 Local Government Units, 56 Civil Society Organizations, 34 legislators, and 15 universities and research institutions. Looking ahead, we hope that Listahanan 2015 will add value to all government agencies and LGUs towards maximizing the impact of public funding and ensuring that the poor and vulnerable benefit from their respective programs.
· Third, Listahanan is important because of what it means for all citizens. Listahanan is an anchor for an objective and transparent approach to selecting beneficiaries. Such transparency is important for citizens, affecting how people perceive their government. Citizens are able to see that public funding and government services are deployed fairly, rather than as gifts or as favors. This in turn signals an important shift and the beginnings of a deeper transformation in state-society relations: people start seeing government services as public goods rather than as personal rewards.
· Fourth, as I mentioned before, Listahanan is important because its targeting performance is excellent by international standards based on the available empirical evidence. While there is no such thing as perfect targeting, the tool that you have developed does an excellent job in identifying the poor and vulnerable. Listahanan is supporting impressive results and must continue to evolve and adapt over time for even greater impact.
I’ll end by emphasizing how much the World Bank values the opportunity to partner with the Philippines in support of Listahanan. We have supported the national household targeting system since its conception in 2008, including assisting DSWD to develop and update the targeting mechanism, establish and strengthen operational procedures, and implement Listahanan 2010 and 2015. We consider Listahanan an important pillar for continued institutional development in the Philippines, one that helps to secure efficient and effective use of government resources and enables transparent, objective and fair identification of poor and vulnerable beneficiaries of government programs.
We congratulate the Government on this important achievement today. Listahanan has helped to put the Philippines at the forefront of global experience in targeting public finance to reach the poorest. Sustaining this achievement over time will be important, and we would encourage the next Administration to continue to use Listahanan to identify beneficiaries of the Pantawid, the national health insurance, social pension and other anti-poverty programs. The World Bank also remains committed to partnering with the Philippines to build on the achievements of Listahanan 2010 and 2015. Looking ahead, your continued investment in this vital instrument will ensure that Listahanan evolves to meet the next data collection wave in 2019 and continues to support development impact in the Philippines.