“The State shall promote social justice in all aspects of national development”, thus says the Philippine constitution, a call to address the perennial problem of poverty and adopt measures calculated to insure economic stability and equalization of social forces of the state.
Social Justice requires the formulation of development programs responsive to the needs of the poor. Alongside, it is imperative that the government ensures that these programs reach the indigents and vulnerable sectors of the society, hence, the birth of Executive order No. 867 which provides for the adoption of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), otherwise known as the Listahanan.
The Listahanan is an information management system used to identify the poor families in the country and determine where they are. This system utilizes objective and verifiable characteristics of households to classify them as poor. For the first years of its pilot implementation it has been used to firm up the implementation of programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, distribution of PhilHealth cards to indigents and social pension for senior citizens. But how does the system contribute to the attainment of social development and ultimately, social justice?
As an information management system, the Listahanan provides data that can be used as reference in the formulation and implementation of programs responsive to the needs of the poor. This enables the National Government Agencies and Local Government Units to direct their efforts in crafting plans, programs and activities that will assist the poor live a quality life, wherein basic necessities for survival are met and education availed. The system is also a facility for the objective identification of beneficiaries of social protection programs. It allows the distribution of scarce resources only to the poor instead of including those who are capable of meeting their subsistence needs to share in the limited resources provided by the government.
Moreover, the Listahanan is a springboard to foster collaborative approach for poverty reduction. The quality database derived from the system and its availability to the public and private stakeholders of social protection programs facilitates the convergence and synchronization of resources into poor households. In effect, this advances the quality of their life.
Finally, the Listahanan enhances the transparency and integrity of program implementation. Since the identification of beneficiaries of programs will be based on an objective assessment, political and other unnecessary influence for the availment of government services is inhibited. This paves way for the genuine delivery of services to the poor consistent with the objectives of programs and administration’s thrust for development and economic stability.
A targeting system that aids planning, implementation and delivery of social development services to the poor and vulnerable sectors of the society, the Listahanan is a boon for social justice where the Philippines, as dreamt by the late Secretary Jesse M. Robredo and as envisioned in the Constitution will be “A country that is not always on the cusp of something great but trips all the time, but a Philippines where people are not battling hunger every day!”### Marydine L. Cameri, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), (1st placer at the 2013 Listahanan Essay Writing Contest for National Government Agencies)