Press Releases Archived (September 2014)


The Commission on Higher Education should enforce "more vigorously" its policy of closing existing programs of state colleges and universities (SUCs) that perform under par year after year in Professional Board Examinations (PBEs).

This is one of the recommendations of "Review and Assessment of Programs Offered by State Universities and Colleges" co-written by Dr. Rosario Manasan and Danileen Kristel Parel, senior research fellow and supervising research specialist, respectively, of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

"It is worrisome that there is a preponderance of universities and colleges with zero passing rate in many professional board exams (PBEs) from 2004 to 2011," the study noted. "Furthermore, closer scrutiny of SUCs` passing rate in PBEs indicate that a good number of them post passing rates that are well below the national average passing rate year after year."

Degrees that have poor PBE performance are agriculture, accountancy, criminology, electrical engineering, electronics engineering, geodetic engineering, social work, elementary and secondary education, library science, forestry, and environmental planning. Data available show that the median passing rate for 38 PBEs for 2004-2011 ranged from 40 to 48 percent. Only 10 out of 38 PBEs had average passing rates above 60 percent and only 6 had passing rates above 70 percent.

The study noted that the SUCs offer "popular" courses even if these are beyond their core mandate. "Given the broad mandates of SUCs, it is not surprising that there is substantial duplication in their program offerings relative to those of private higher education institutions (PHEIs) and other SUCs in the same region where they operate."

Program duplication may be considered a problem for a number of reasons. "One, the number of programs offered by SUCs has been found empirically to tend to increase per student cost of SUCs. Two, when SUCs offer programs that PHEIs traditionally offer, PHEIs are effectively crowded out because the tuition fees charged by SUCs is significantly lower than that of PHEIs." PHEI officials note the seeming unfair competition. While the CHED strictly enforces its policies, standards and guidelines, some SUCs are allowed to offer courses without the requisite facilities and qualified faculty.

While some SUC officials hold that the poor PBE performance are currently being addressed by conducting review classes and pre-board examinations, the study noted that these measures will improve the passing rate but will not necessarily improve the quality of instruction. Faculty development and upgrading of facilities are argued to be more effective in improving overall performance.

The study also recommends the following: (i) CHED should ensure that SUCs` program offerings comply with policies, standards, and guidelines of the commission; (ii) CHED should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of centralization over decentralization with respect to the monitoring of SUCs; (iii) the CHED regional director should become a regular member of the SUC Board; and (iv) the normative funding formula should be adjusted so that SUCs do not get an additional subsidy from the national government for the additional enrollment resulting from their offering popular programs. SUCs may be allowed to offer popular programs provided they meet CHED standards and shoulder the full cost of offering those programs.

You may download the full study from this link:


Large discrepancies in the commercial price of fertilizers and the sub-optimal application of fertilizer of farmers are major challenges that threaten the Philippine agricultural sector.

Study author Dr. Roehlano Briones, senior research fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, identified two significant challenges facing the sector agriculture in regards to fertilizer sector---inefficient fertilizer marketing (as seen in the large discrepancies in pricing across adjacent regions) and sub-optimal amounts of fertilizer applied by farmers.

"Across the country, there is a wide dispersion in retail prices of fertilizer,"Briones said. "The cheapest fertilizers are found in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, and Davao region," he said.

Moreover, the most expensive fertilizers are ironically sold in the poorest regions in the country such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, Briones said.

Future research is needed to resolve the pricing disparities in fertilizer, Briones noted. It would help to identify if disparities may be attributed to transaction cost differences or area-specific gaps in infrastructure and logistics, he said.

"The diminishing importance of domestic production of fertilizer is also noticeable," Briones said. Domestic production of fertilizer was accounted for at least 70 percent of consumption from 1994 to 1996, but now the share is down to 30 percent or lower, he said.

Locally produced fertilizers are sourced from five firms, four of which are based in Luzon. These are mostly producers of smaller quantities of various common and specialty fertilizers, Briones said.

Soiltech Agricultural Products has a capacity to produce 1 million tons of fertilizers in a year and considered as the market leader in domestically produced fertilizer in Luzon, Briones said. Meanwhile, PHILPHOS, located in the Visayas, has the capacity to produce 1.17 million ton of fertilizer that distributes all over the country, he said.

"Clearly there are large scale economies at work, limiting the number of domestic manufacturers, but the market as a whole need not be an oligopoly if there is strong competition from imports," Briones said. "Statistical analysis shows that ups and downs in the world price are efficiently transmitted to domestic markets. There is no evidence to support the hypothesis of excess profit from buying low abroad and selling high locally."

"Imports are mostly sourced from ASEAN and other free trade partners where the import duty is zero. There is in effect free trade in fertilizers." Briones said. "China is by far the largest source of imports of the Philippines," he said. Moreover, domestic production depends mainly on imported raw materials such as rock phosphate, anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid, and other finished fertilizer grades, he added.

Briones also found that farmers continue to apply sub-optimal amounts of fertilizer both for the main nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and for micronutrients.

Although fertilizers positively contribute to profitability of rice farming, fertilizer is being underutilized in Philippine farms compared to other ASEAN countries, Briones said. Based on the FAO FertiSTAT data (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Fertilizer Use Statistics) for 2001, fertilizer application in the country's paddy rice areas was only 51 kilograms per hectare against Indonesia's application at 105 kilograms per hectare.

Access to credit and risk aversion are not strong factors on the issue of sub-optimal amounts of fertilizer used in Philippine farms, Briones said.Lack of information and aversion to loss are other possible reasons. Pinning down the explanation will require evidenced-based analysis at the level of the market and the farmer,to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the farmer's goals, opportunities, and constraints, he said.

If you want to read the full study, you may download this link:


Philippine graduate education system is critical to serve the country's development goals. This was stressed in a research paper published by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

It is necessary to determine if the graduate education programs in the country contribute to the skills and competencies needed in the labor market, said Mira Alexis Ofreneo, author of the study and PIDS research consultant. Moreover, it is important that the country's masteraland doctoral programs are developing the competencies needed to manage, schools, corporations, and government organizations, Ofreneo said.

The study was carried out through the PIDS-CHED research project "An Assessment of the State of Graduate Education Programs in the Philippines".

"There are 2,299 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines, 656 of which are state universities and colleges (SUCs) while 1,643 are private HEIs," Ofreneo said. "A total of 647 HEIs (28 percent) offer master's programs and 313 (14 percent) offer doctoral programs," she said.

"The master's programs with the most number of graduates are Education (27 percent), Nursing (14 percent), and Business Administration (11 percent)," Ofreneo said. "Education Management, Public Administration, Teaching, Management, Information Technology, Master of Arts programs, and Public Health were the other programs that landed in the top 10," she said.

Meanwhile, the most widely offered doctoral programs are Educational Management (45 percent), Education (25 percent), and Public Administration (19 percent), Ofreneo said. "The other programs that landed in the top 10 are Business Administration, Philosophy, Management, Development Education, Science Education, Educational Administration, and Business Management," she said.

During the National Workshop on Services last May organized by PIDS and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tereso Tullaoof the Angelo King Institute for Economic and Business Studies, De La Salle University,underscored in his presentation that the country still has a lot of catching up to do to raise the competitiveness level of Philippine higher education.

The Philippines is ranked 67th in higher education and training and 81st in tertiary enrollment in the 2013-2014Global Competitiveness Report. The Report assessed the competitiveness of 148 companies to provide insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.

In relation to this, only 21.5 percent of the more than 2,200 HEIs in the country have some form of accreditation, Tullao said. Only 12.7 percent of 130,000 faculty members have doctoral degrees.

In terms of the number of Scopus-listed articles for each ASEAN University Network (AUN) member-university, three universities in the Philippines are identified. The University of the Philippines - Diliman has produced 2,108, De La Salle University has 1,028, and Ateneo de Manila University has produced 440, Tullao said.

Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database for academic journal articles. It presently covers nearly 21,000 titles from over 5,000 publishers.

However, these figures are measly compared with the National University of Singapore (NUS)that has produced 74,560 documents and has the highest cumulative number of Scopus-listed documents in the ASEAN region, Tullao said.

Leaders of the services sector agree that the graduate education programs in the country should advance Philippine services sectors in the Asia-Pacific region given that the country has vast potentials to be the heart of services trade in the Asia Pacific.

The country can tap its vast human resource opportunities in the maritime, outsourcing, franchising, medical, and educational services, said PIDS research consultant Dr. Ramonette Serafica during the workshop.

This was supported by Ana Maria Bongato, executive director for talent development at the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). According to Bongato, the country's vast potentials in the Philippine Information Technology-Business Processing Management industry is a treasure trove waiting to be exploited. Bongato said the country currently offers awide range of services such as IT application, engineering, animation, data analytics, and other business process services to foreign firms.

If you want to read the full study, you may download this link: and pubyear=2014


The automotive industry is expected to yield 300,000 jobs under a new industrial policy that seeks to revive the manufacturing sector, an official bared.

Reviving the manufacturing sector will help achieve inclusive growth and at the same time generate better-paying jobs, said Rafaelita Aldaba, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) now on secondment to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in a press conference launching the 12th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) last August 28.

`We`re looking at auto investments for broad-based industrial growth to happen. Auto has a large multiplier effect,` said Aldaba, who joined the DTI as assistant secretary last year. `We have an auto program and it`s already being finalized.`

The economist pointed out that manufacturing had stagnated in the past two decades, leaving the country dependent on services for growth and job creation. But structural transformation of the economy is needed as services won`t be enough given the entry of 800,000 new workers to the job market annually, and the three million unemployed. `Competitiveness is crucial. We need to upgrade our manufacturing capacity,` she added.

Aldaba however clarified that the government`s role would be to ensure a conducive environment to industrial upgrading. `Firms, the private sector, need to execute the roadmaps. They will be the proximate cause of growth, investment, and entrepreneurship,` she said.

The goal of the Manufacturing Roadmap, which incorporates 20 industry development roadmaps, is to hike manufacturing value added contribution to 30 percent of gross domestic product, and a 15 percent increase in employment. `We want to move workers from informal to formal jobs, low-productivity to high-productivity jobs,` Aldaba said.

PIDS Senior Research Fellow Aniceto Orbeta called for labor policy reforms, citing empirical evidence that current policies such as the minimum wage had failed to reduce the ranks of the jobless. Orbeta presented the results of a labor policy analysis he had co-authored with Vicente Paqueo, Leonardo Lanzona, and Dean Dulay, that showed that minimum wage regulations have generally been not helpful and even `detrimental to the welfare of the common man`.

Smaller firms, for instance, are being forced to reduce hiring, and are losing out to large firms. `Minimum wages have a negative impact for smaller firms, and because smaller firms dominate, the total impact is negative,` Orbeta said. Moreover, the minimum wage hurts the employment probability of the young, female and inexperienced workers. Data also showed that it lowers the average proportion of working-age family members who will be hired.

Orbeta said there should be flexibility in hiring and firing, and that the poor and jobless should also be represented in the existing tripartite wage-setting scheme. `We are not anti-worker. What we are saying is our old tools are not working for the workers for their decent wages,` he added.

For the observance of 12th DPRM, PIDS has organized a series of fora for the whole month of September anchored on the theme `Addressing the Jobs Challenge toward Inclusive Growth`. The series of fora will gather policymakers, program planners, development researchers, and labor leaders to identify the causes of unemployment and underemployment and to seek ways on how to effectively address these.

"We are highlighting another timely issue in this years DPRM. Job creation is a central feature of the Aquino Administration`s strategy for inclusive growth," PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said in his remarks.

"With the Philippines in the cusp of major international and regional developments such as the forthcoming ASEAN economic integration in 2015, it is high time that we take a look at our labor policies and regulations and other binding constraints that hamper the country`s ability to generate ample and productive jobs and make use of its abundant resources. We should determine what policy measures and interventions can make a serious dent on high income inequality and poverty incidence," Llanto said.


Impact evaluation in the Philippines is getting a boost with the government, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation or 3ie, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) ready to pour in more resources to evaluating development programs.

In a press briefing on Day 1 of the `Making Impact Evaluation Matter` international conference being held in Manila, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the Philippines is now among many developing countries utilizing impact evaluation to assess what development programs have been effective in addressing poverty reduction.

This year, the government has released PHP 300 million for process assessment and impact evaluation to be spearheaded by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the state policy think tank. The government plans to budget more or less the same amount for next year, the Cabinet official bared.

`It is important to find out what programs have been effective,` Balisacan, who is also chairman of the PIDS board of trustees, told reporters on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

The international conference, the first of its kind to be held in Asia, is organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 3ie, and PIDS, and runs until Sept. 5 at the ADB headquarters.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said the PHP 300 million would be spent on 22 studies covering irrigation, feeding programs, and motor vehicle taxation, among others.

On top of this, the Philippines will get PHP 170 million in funding from the Australian government through 3ie for impact evaluation studies, said Howard White, 3ie executive director.

`The 3ie through the support of the Australian government will contribute USD 3.9 million (PHP 170 million) for impact evaluations of government programs,` he said.

White said 3ie, a nonprofit that finances impact evaluations and systematic reviews, was committed to producing evidence on `what is effective, how, and why, but more importantly, at what cost.`

For its part, the ADB has pledged USD 5.5 million for 2013"2017 to finance technical assistance for all stakeholders and agencies involved in impact evaluation in the region, said Vinod Thomas, director-general of the ADB`s Independent Evaluation Department.

Balisacan pointed out that impact evaluations yield a high rate of return and provide evidence-based results for sound decisionmaking. Programs deemed to be beneficial may be expanded, while programs that have been underperforming may be reviewed or even terminated.


Two top officials of the Aquino administration on Wednesday (Sept. 3, 2014) backed efforts to integrate evaluation practices into development programs, saying these measures ensure the efficient and prudent use of public and donor funds.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said evaluation practices have "provided effective feedback of lessons learned for the improvement of program and project designs of future development projects."
"This year we are taking it a step further by including in the national budget a significant amount to conduct process assessments and impact evaluations of more government programs," Balisacan said in his opening remarks at the start of the international conference dubbed "Making Impact Evaluation Matter: Better Evidence for Effective Policies and Programs" being held at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters.

"With impact evaluation, the objectives of government transparency and accountability become a reality and do not remain mere slogans," said Balisacan, the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority and chairman of the board of trustees of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

At the conference's opening plenary session, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman said impact evaluation could not be done away with as it helps achieve the intended goals of development projects as well as in the allocation of resources. "Impact evaluation tells us if we are transforming the lives of families, children, and communities," she added.

The second wave of impact evaluation of the government's conditional cash transfer program, known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, "negates" criticism that the program encourages dependency, Soliman bared. Moreover, program beneficiaries have a better outlook on the future, she said.

Soliman urged impact evaluation practitioners to address a communication gap, saying that the dissemination of findings of evaluation studies should appeal to non-specialist audiences by using less jargon and graphs.

Paul Gertler, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said the experience of Indonesia on family planning programs was instructive, as it was found that 70 percent of the reduction in fertility was in fact due to women's education.

Impact evaluations are useful in three ways: as input to funding decisions, to inform program design, and as a means of influencing ideas, he said. "What you do in the Philippines will influence the rest of the world if it's documented," Gertler said in the opening plenary.

More than 400 delegates are in Manila for the first-ever large-scale international conference on impact evaluation in Asia, co-organized by the ADB, the US nonprofit International Initiative for Impact Evaluation or 3ie, and PIDS. The conference will run until Sept. 5.

PIDS, the state policy think tank, has been tapped by the Aquino administration to lead a PHP 300-million research project that will conduct process assessments and impact evaluations of key government programs.

PIDS is spearheading the observance of the 12th Development Policy Research Month this September with a series of fora and other activities in support of evidence-based policymaking. The theme for this year's celebration is "Addressing the Jobs Challenge Toward Inclusive Growth."


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan will open Making Impact Evaluation Matter, a large international conference on the increasingly influential field of impact evaluation to be held for the first time in Asia.

Balisacan, who is director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), is expected to update more than 400 policymakers, program managers, and researchers on the Philippines` development initiatives and governance reforms in the context of the Philippine Development Plan.

The opening ceremonies will be on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, at the Manila headquarters of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The conference will run until Friday, Sept. 5, with plenary sessions featuring distinguished international figures in impact evaluation. Pre-conference workshops and parallel sessions begun on Monday, Sept. 1. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is co-organizing the conference with the ADB and the grant-making nonprofit International Initiative for Impact Evaluation.

The conference kicks off with a press conference at 2:00 p.m. with Secretary Balisacan, PIDS President Gilberto Llanto, Director-General of ADB`s Independent Evaluation Department Vinod Thomas, and 3ie Executive Director Howard White.

The opening ceremony follows with ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bindu Lohani and Secretary Balisacan as principal speakers.

The opening plenary will have the theme `Challenges Using Rigorous Evidence to Make Better Policy` and will be chaired by Llanto. Professor Paul Getler of the University of California, Berkeley and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman will serve as panelists.

Balisacan is also chairman of the board of trustees of PIDS, the state think-tank advocating for evidence-based policymaking. PIDS has been tapped by the Aquino administration to lead a PHP 300-million research project that will conduct process assessments and impact evaluations of key government programs.

The project, funded by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2014, seeks to strengthen the Aquino administrations reform agenda by promoting accountability in government. PIDS` mandate under the GAA includes building capacity on monitoring and evaluation for NEDA and budget officials and staff.

PIDS is spearheading the observance of the 12th Development Policy Research Month this September with a series of fora and other activities in support of evidence-based policymaking. The theme for this years celebration is `Addressing the Jobs Challenge Toward Inclusive Growth.`

`Research evidence is intrinsic in the crafting of effective policies and programs, says Llanto, the PIDS president. Research use should be embedded in the decisionmaking process of the government We have a moral responsibility to our taxpayers to ensure that their monies are wisely spent on development programs that will really bring about positive impacts on their lives.`


Development practitioners and advocates are gathering in Manila this week for the first-ever international meet on impact evaluation in Asia. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is co-organizing the five-day workshop and conference with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

`Making Impact Evaluation Matter: Better Evidence for Effective Policies and Programs` is being held at the ADB headquarters in Manila as the Philippines marks the 12th Development Policy Research Month, a nationwide observance promoting evidence-based policymaking.

A two-and-a-half-day series of intensive workshops on impact evaluation started Monday, Sept. 1 with 3ie executive director Howard White emphasizing the importance of theory-based impact evaluation.

A `theory of change` lays out the steps in a `causal chain` that links inputs to outcomes, and the assumptions underlying the links in the causal chain, White told participants in one of the parallel sessions.

`Some people think their intervention is the best thing since sliced bread. They tend to overestimate the effects and underestimate the costs,` he said. It is a common mistake, for instance, that training programs are effective. Key people usually do not acquire the knowledge they are supposed to acquire.

White cited a nutrition program in Bangladesh as an example of weak and missing links in the causal chain. The program, initially held as a success, was later found to have no significant impact on nutritional status. Targeting the right people and understanding social context is important. The mother-in-law often dominates the household and makes behavioral change difficult.

`Many projects fail to engage community leaders sufficiently. You want people to want to take part,` White added.

In the UK, the assumption that restaurants with high food hygiene ratings will have a higher number of customers didnt hold. People look at the menu for the food that they want to eat and how much it costs, not necessarily at the rating, he said.

Jo Puri, 3ie deputy executive director, emphasized that impact evaluations determine whether impact is really attributable to the intervention, and this is done by having a comparison group that did not receive the intervention.

In translating good evidence into policy and practice, Beryl Leach, head of policy, advocacy, and communication at 3ie, advised participants to analyze thoroughly all stakeholders involved in the issue.

A mapping of stakeholders in terms of access and interests from the perspective of the research team"a power analysis"will help get the `complete picture.`

In the end, `people are the agents of change, not the evidence,` she said.

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