Pursuant to the Proclamation 647, s. 1990, the month of October was declared as the National Statistics Month (NSM). For this year, the celebration has the theme “NSM@32: Revving up for Economic and Social Recovery Through Evidence-Based Policies.”
This theme is very timely, as there is really a strong need to accelerate economic and social recovery after we have experienced and continuously experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic in our daily lives. The theme stresses the importance of statistics as basis for policy and decision-making to address the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19. The use of relevant statistics as solid evidence in guiding and supporting the nation’s efforts in navigating the pandemic towards socioeconomic recovery is very much needed at this point.
Because of statistics, the government has estimated the present and future costs of this pandemic at 41.4 trillion pesos in net present value terms. Broken down, in 2020, the country lost 4.3 trillion pesos; in the next 10 to 40 years, the estimated cost is up to 37 trillion pesos. This is also why our recovery programs are carefully built on these numbers, which takes into consideration, among others, healthcare costs, wages and productivity, and even school closures. NEDA has repeatedly underscored the importance of the three-pillar strategy, which includes—
- accelerating the vaccination program by expanding vaccination sites and leveraging new technologies,
- opening the economy safely through localized lockdowns and pilot face-to-face classes, and
- fully implementing the recovery program, especially the 2021 budget.
On budget, the 2022 National Expenditure Program amounts to P5.024 trillion, which is equivalent to 22.8 percent of GDP and is higher by 11.5 percent than this year’s national budget. The top spending priority is towards “Building Resilience Amidst the Pandemic.” The intensified roll out of the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration (or PDITR) strategy will be prioritized through the procurement of PPEs and GeneXpert cartridges. The continuous hiring and deployment of health service professionals is also among the priorities, which has an allotment of P17.0 billion.
The National Statistics Month also aims to promote, enhance, and instill awareness and appreciation of the importance and value of statistics to the different sectors of the society and to elicit the cooperation and support of the general public in generating and upgrading quality statistics in the country.
Recharge PH, for example, was formulated by the National Economic and Development Authority with the use of numerous and quality data sets to come up with a refocused and sharpened design. This was done to address the need to accelerate the implementation of programs under the 2020 General Appropriations Act to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and reboot the country’s economy.
The 2020 Census of Population and Housing was conducted amid the pandemic. The Philippine Statistics Authority has undeniably overcome unprecedented challenges to collect and produce high-quality data that are critical in decision-making.
The DOH Center for Health Development MIMAROPA, in addition, takes its regional case tracking and monitoring to the digital world by using the Center for Regional Epidemiology & Technology Enhancement, or simply “CREATE Online.”
The government has always been serious in coming up with policies and laws that will both promote the use of and base strategies on quality and relevant statistics. The passage of Republic Act 11315 also referred to as the Community-Based Monitoring System Act (CBMS), for example, is an organized technology-based system of collecting, processing, and validating necessary disaggregated data that may be used for planning, program implementation and impact monitoring at the local level and through this we can also empower communities to participate in the process.
As for relevant national policies, the recently launched Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan is also backed by hard-to-ignore statistics. The Plan takes into account the 44 percent of households that have individual connection to a proper, fully-reticulated waterworks system. The remaining 56 percent, or 57 million Filipinos, have to fetch water from communal pipes or worse, from springs or wells up to 250 meters away.
And to cite one more, Executive Order 141, which directly addresses the alarming number of adolescent pregnancies in the country, seeks to stop and mitigate this crisis. In 2019, 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 gave birth, or almost seven every day. This was a three-fold increase from 2000, when only 755 from the said age group gave birth.
You see, friends and colleagues in regional development, relevant and timely statistics leads to effective, citizen-focused policies. These policies and programs, in turn, help us fight the pandemic, tackle social issues, and restore our previously vibrant economy.
Alam nating lahat na “Ang tao ang sentro ng pagbabago tungo sa isang matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat”. Maraming salamat po.
Thank you. And may we all have a truly meaningful and productive National Statistics Month.