Friday, May 12, 2006

Some Philippine statistics, opportunities for change and transformation



I love my country. I wish to be well informed about my country's overall situation. It shocked me to find the following statistics from the government's files. Sort of negatives, but God can redeem and turn them into positives. I'm also challenged to be a positive contribution to my nation's progress in my own small ways with God's help.

Let me quote here a statistics research article about the Philippines:

"Why do millions upon millions of Filipinos leave each year to become caregivers, nurses, construction workers and entertainers in far away lands?

The main reason is poverty.

The National Statistics Office reported that in 2000, poverty incidence affected 19.9 percent of families in urban areas and 46.9 percent in rural areas. Real number of poor families climbed to 5.1 million, 1.5 million of them in urban areas and 3.6 million in rural areas. Some 2.5 million families were living in subsistence level, meaning their income was not enough to buy their basic food requirements. Furthermore, in its 2001 report, the World Bank said 12.7 percent of Filipinos were "poor", a term it assigned to those who lived on less than US$1 a day while 45.9 percent were "near poor" or those who lived on less than US$2 a day.

Although most Filipinos are poor, a lot of them are highly skilled workers and are able to speak, read, write and listen in English, thus making them qualified to the foreign market.

In fact, the country’s top exported product today is no longer rice, sugar, coconut or bananas but Filipinos. Specifically, professional caregivers, nurses, doctors, engineers and other workers in demand all over the world. According to Senator Francisco Pangilinan, the seven million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide have remitted over US$40 billion to the Philippines from 1991 to 2001. Last year, the overseas remittances of OFWs reached an all-time high in 2005 when it reached $14 billion. Economic analysts are saying that it is this remittance that is keeping the country economically viable. Without these remittances from almost 8 million OFWs, they believe that the country’s economy would collapse.

Although the dollar remittances are good for the economy, the trend of separating family members is damaging the family’s values.

Social welfare experts from both government and private agencies agree that the separation of family members because of overseas jobs has damaged the Filipino’s family values resulting in the following social problems:

Rape

Some 3,145 cases of rape were reported in the country in 2001. This translates to 8 cases of rape each day and one rape incident in every three hours during the year. The figure only covers rape incidents reported to the police. There were also 5,735 murder cases and 4,079 homicide incidents reported in the country in 2001 alone.

Sex Crimes Against Children

According to the Social Welfare and Development, there were a total of 5,185 sex crimes committed against children in the Philippines in 2000, and 3,980 cases in 2001. Sex crimes refer to rape, incest, and acts of lasciviousness.

A Billion Peso Illegal Drug Industry

According to former Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina, the crime syndicates produce and trade P300-billion (approximately $57 Million) worth of illegal drugs in the country annually. The Dangerous Drugs Board also disclosed that some 1.8 million Filipinos are hooked on illegal drugs while 1.6 million others are casual users.

Two Million Drug Users

According to the International Narcotics Control Board, the use of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu has become "the most popular drug of abuse" in the Philippines. The Anti-Narcotics Group of the Philippine National Police disclosed that around 1.8 million of the 80 million Filipinos were regular drug users.The agency also disclosed that about 70 percent of marijuana supply in the world might be coming from the Cordillera region in northern Luzon. It claimed that marijuana fields have been found among the 300,000 hectares of Cordillera farmlands in the past. In 1999, the police conducted 7,956 raids and arrested 11,004 individuals on drug-related cases.


Women Beaten Daily

As of 2002, militant women's group Gabriela said at least 15 women and six children are beaten up daily. In 2001, Gabriela recorded 5,668 cases of wife battering and 2,274 cases of maltreatment of children.

Two-Thirds of Young Workers Had Premarital Sex

A survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in 2002 showed that 30 percent of the country's young workforce claimed to be sexually active, with 10 percent of the single male respondents claiming to have casual sex. In a separate report, a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in the year 2000 showed that 23 percent of 16.5 million Filipinos aged between 15 and 24 have engaged in premarital sex.

400,000 Prostitutes

Despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in the country, women's group Gabriela said that around 400,000 Filipinos were working as prostitutes as of 1998.

100,000 Child Prostitutes

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), about 60,000 to 100,000 Filipino children were working as prostitutes as of 1997. Prostitution was present in 37 provinces then. The major child prostitution dens were found in Manila, Angeles City, Puerto Galera, Davao City and Cebu City. The Philippines has reportedly become a favorite destination of pedophiles from the US, Australia and Europe. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has documented 8,335 cases of child abuse from 1991 to 1996.

400,000 Abortions

A study released by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in February 2003 said that there were 400,000 cases of abortion in the country each year, despite the fact that abortion is illegal here.

Filipina Entertainers

There are around 180,000 Filipino entertainers in Japan sending US$200 million each year. Many of these women were vulnerable to abuse and some driven to prostitution by the Japanese Yakuza gang. Filipino entertainers were eventually called "Japayuki", which was an original concoction made by Japanese media referring to young girls working as prostitutes. The Philippine government allows the deployment of Filipino women as young as 18 years old.

Alcohol, Most Abused Drug

Liquor is said to be the most abused substance in the Philippines and the world. While there remains to be a concrete study on the effects of alcoholism, many index crimes such as homicides, physical injuries and sex-related offenses are often associated with alcohol. Adding to these are the numerous accidents caused by drunk driving. Many Filipino families were also ruined by alcoholism, with young children exposed to the evils of their drunken fathers. Sadly, the government does not do anything about it."

These economic and social problems in the Philippines call for a unique approach in terms of evangelism, Christian discipleship and missions work.

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