World Bank says violence holding back Philippines

Published by rudy Date posted on April 12, 2011

THE World Bank on Monday identified the Philippines as one of nine countries suffering from multiple forms of political and criminal violence that have kept thousands of their people poor and unemployed.

The Bank’s World Development Report 2011 puts the Philippines in the same league as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Papua New Guinea, El Salvador, Kenya, Tajikistan, and Northern Ireland.

The report says the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front are examples of a conventional political conflict, while the Al Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah’s links with the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao are “local conflicts with transnational ideological connections.”

The other sources of violence Filipinos are exposed to are local clan conflicts, kidnap for ransom, human trafficking, and drug trafficking.

The report does not mention the four-decade-old communist insurgency, or the coup attempts that arise from time to time.

World Bank country director for the Philippines Bert Hofman underlined the report’s focus on the strategies in tackling the challenges that developing economies encounter from conflicts of any form.

“Violent conflict is a key factor in explaining lagging development outcomes in some parts of the country,” Hofman said.

“A peace agreement will be a critical breakthrough, but it will take more than that to get conflict-affected regions back on track. A political settlement must be backed by stability, security and justice, more inclusive and transparent local governance, job creation and greater engagement of communities in local development processes.”

The report counted 5,433 battle-related deaths in the Philippines from 2000 to 2008, with 314,000 people displaced from their communities.

About 22 percent of the Philippines’ population are living below the $1.25-a-day benchmark, and 43.8 percent below $2 as of 2006, the Bank says.

Globally, some 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence, depriving them of opportunities for a better life.

The report says strengthening national institutions, and improving governance in ways that give priority to citizen security, justice, and jobs, can help break this trap.

While much of the world has made rapid progress in reducing poverty in the past 60 years, the areas characterized by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence are being left far behind, their economic growth compromised and their human indicators stagnant.

World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick said “a civil conflict costs the average developing country roughly 30 years of GDP growth, and countries in protracted crisis can fall over 20 percentage points behind in overcoming poverty.”

“If we are to break the cycles of violence and lessen the stresses that drive them, countries must develop more legitimate, accountable and capable national institutions that provide for citizen security, justice and jobs,” Zoellick said. –Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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