Improving education, 4Ps key to address inequality in PH, says expert


Posted at Nov 25 2022 05:43 PM

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MANILA — Policies geared towards improving public education, poverty reduction, and universal healthcare access are key to help ease income inequality in the Philippines, a development expert said Friday.

Asst. Prof. Leland dela Cruz of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Development Studies program told ANC that government policies "have a lot do with reducing inequality."

For one, dela Cruz said removing the 7-year prescribed period among beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) may help address this.

He noted that the program did not have any prescribed period before a law institutionalizing it was signed in 2019.

"One of the reasons for the decline in inequality is because of the incresased high school graduation rates. And that might have been partly because the 4Ps program had no deadline during the Aquino administration," dela Cruz said.

"But with the 4Ps law, they put a 7-year deadline, so even if you haven't finished high school, you're already out of the program. so i'd like them to revise that policy," he added.

Dela Cruz also underscored the importance of addressing income inequality, as this would translate to more Filipinos having difficulty of getting employed due to their lack of access to quality education, especially as the economy becomes more "tech-driven."

"Also, we see this in terms of healthcare access, where those who are better off have more assured healthcare access, while the poor will have some difficulty accessing healthcare," he said.

To address the inequality of access to healthcare, dela Cruz said the Universal Healthcare Law must be properly implemented, as it seems to only "something on paper" at present.

Inequality was also evident during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 17 percent of Filipinos losing their jobs during the first three months of the outbreak. 

There was also a noted decrease in informal economic activity due to the lockdowns implemented during the pandemic. 

A World Bank study earlier pointed out that the Philippines has the second-highest income inequality in East Asia, only behind Thailand. 

The country also ranked 15th out of 63 nations worldwide with high income inequality, based on available data.

The study also noted that the top 1 percent of earners in the Philippines captured 17 percent of national income, while the bottom 50 percent—the poorest half—only accounts for 14 percent.