, JANUARY 26, 2007
  (STAR) Vice President Noli de Castro cited yesterday the program of the Arroyo administration in creating mega-regions in the country as a focused and effective strategy of fighting poverty through extensive development endeavors.

Speaking at the anti-poverty summit at the Clark Museum , Clark Special Economic Zone, in Angeles City , said that in the case of the Luzon Urban Beltway, the countryís biggest super region, there are 15 mega infrastructure projects whose benefits, once completed, will help the people cross the threshold of poverty.

He deplored the countryís experience in the past decades of implementing several projects but whose expected beneficial effects did not benefit the truly poor.

"The pitfall of trickling down and the phenomenon of immiserizing growth should be relegated to the past as the subject of historical studies. This should not characterize present-day development efforts," the Vice President declared.

De Castro said the Arroyo administrationís development efforts are anchored on the governmentís anti-poverty program, and the need to advocate good governance and the need to prioritize programs that will have direct impact on the poor.

He stressed the need of providing affordable dwelling units and basic services for the homeless in urban communities. In line with the governmentís housing program, he said that his office has been utilizing land acquisition techniques involving the declaration of public land as alienable and disposable, adding that this would expand land ownership by the poor..

In his speech, Secretary Domingo Panganiban, chairman of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, said that the administrationís poverty-alleviation policies ":have helped an estimated 5.5 million Filipinos out of poverty over the course of five years of the Arroyo administrationís Medium-Term Development Plan.

Last year alone, he said the government had widened the peopleís access to credit and capital, providing over P76 billion in loans to small entrepreneurs, farmers and fishers. He pointed out that new land had been brought under cultivation, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the rural areas.

He cited the governmentís efforts to create more employment opportunities, build more classrooms and train more people for high-paying jobs in business and industry.

"In the coming years, we will continue to direct public resources to this governmentís highest budget priorities Ė modern infrastructure and the national anti-poverty program," Panganiban declared.

His resolve to carry out the primary goal of reducing poverty incidence to 17 per cent at the end of this decade is anchored on food abundance, more jobs and social security. He said the success of the cities and urban beltways depends on the growth of the rural communities that produce the food and raw materials needed for urban development.

"The great battleground for the defense and expansion of national prosperity is the Filipino countryside where two-thirds of the nationís poor reside," Panganiban said.

Population effects on environment cited The Philippine STAR 01/21/2007

The government should not ignore the tremendous effects of population explosion to the environment. A given ecosystem can only support a specific number of individuals at a given time. If the carrying capacity is exceeded, an imbalance in the ecosystem occurs, according to Antonio M. Claparols, president of the Ecological Society of the Philippines, as he explained the relationship between population and environment.

The key to addressing this problem is education for sustainable development among the populace and strong political will on the part of the government. Our leaders must play a strong role in education, research, policy development, information exchange, and community outrech to help create an equitable and sustainable future, Claparols stressed as he cited the debilitating effects of population explosion among the urban poor which the government finds hard to find a solution.

Claparols raised the need to establish multidisciplinary courses in our a schools and universities thast promote understanding of the relationship between population, human activities, and the environment.

He also urged the education department to mandate schools, colleges and universities to strenghten their collaborative programs and linkages with academic institutions abroad to promote not only the exchange of students and faculty, but the exchange of ideas and research as well.

The ESP president also highlighted the importance of linking with local government units that have a great sense of environmental responsibility and promote sustainble practices. There should also be an attempt, he said, to bridge the gap between scientists and science educators by creating partnerships with primary and secondary schools.

The earthís carrying capacity could only support a given number of people whose needs can be aptly satisfied he added, controlling runaway population growth will be an essential part of sustainable development.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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