Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation

'The poor' and 'the marginalized' are just two phrases used to describe the nation's basic sectors, who continue to be faced with the glaring inequalities that are characteristic of our social fabric. A central aspect of NAPC's mandate is to strengthen partnerships between the national government and these key stakeholders. This is crucial so effective anti-poverty strategies can be crafted.

The sectors are the government's partners in reform and development, and are critical in helping to bring about better living conditions for the poor.

Who are the basic sectors?

RA 8425 divides the basic sectors into fourteen main groupings:

  1. Artisanal Fisherfolk – refers to those directly or indirectly engaged in taking, culturing, or processing fishery or aquatic resources. These include, but are not to be limited to, those engaged in fishing using gears that do not require boats, or boats less than three (3) tons, in municipal waters, coastal and marine areas; workers in commercial fishing and aquaculture; vendors and processors of fish and coastal products; and subsistence producers such as shell-gatherers, managers, and producers of mangrove resources, and other related producers.
  2. Children – refers to citizens below 18 years old whose right to survival, development, protection and participation are to be promoted, protected and fulfilled in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities.
  3. Cooperatives – refers to duly registered associations of at least 15 persons, majority of whom are poor, having a common bond of interest, who voluntarily join together to achieve a common social and economic end; organized by members who equitably contribute the required share capital and accept a fair share of risks and benefits of their undertaking.
  4. Farmers and Landless Rural Workers – refers to those who are engaged directly or indirectly in small farms and forest areas, and workers in commercial farms and plantations, whether paid or unpaid, regular or season-bound. These shall include, but are not limited to:
    1. Small-scale farmers who own or are still amortizing lands that are not more than three (3) hectares, tenants, leaseholders, and stewards; and
    2. Rural workers who are either wage earners, self-employed, or unpaid family workers directly and personally engaged in agriculture, small-scale mining, handicrafts, and other related farm and off-farm activities.
  5. Indigenous People and Cultural Communities – refers to a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as an organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, tradition and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non- indigenous religions and culture, become historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. ICCs/IPs shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present state boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains.
  6. Non-Government Organizations – refers to duly registered non-stock, nonprofit organizations focused on the upliftment of the basic or disadvantaged sectors of society by providing advocacy, training, community organizing, research, access to resources and other similar activities.
  7. Persons with Disabilities – refers to those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
  8. Senior Citizens – or "elderly" shall mean all resident citizens of the Philippines who are at least sixty (60) years old.
  9. Urban poor – refers to those residing in urban and urbanizable slum or blighted areas, with or without the benefit of security of abode, where the income of the head of the family cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide for the family’s basic needs of food, health, education, housing, and other essentials in life.
  10. Victims of Disasters and Calamities – refers to persons suffering under conditions involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, as well as disruption of means of livelihoods and normal way of life in affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazards.
  11. Women – refers to individuals whose declared sex is female.
  12. Formal Labor and Migrant Workers – Workers in the formal sector refers to workers in the formal economy, or those who are employed by any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee and shall include the government and all its branches, subdivisions, and instrumentalities, all government-owned and-controlled corporations and institutions, as well as nonprofit private institutions or organizations; migrant workers refers to Filipinos who are to be engaged, are engaged, or have been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which they are not legal residents, whether documented or undocumented.
  13. Workers in the Informal Sector – refers to self-employed, occasionally or personally hired, subcontracted, paid and unpaid family workers in household; incorporated and unincorporated enterprises, including home workers; micro-entrepreneurs and producers, and operators of sari-sari stores and all other categories who suffer from violation of workers’ rights.
  14. Youth and Students – Youth refers to persons whose ages range from fifteen (15) to thirty (30) years while students refer to anyone enrolled in and regularly attending school at the secondary, post-secondary, graduate and post-graduate levels.

The basic sectors play a vital role in governance since they represent the primary beneficiaries of the government's poverty-reduction programs. Their concerns are a reflection of long-prevailing incapacities in alleviating poverty, particularly in the area of asset reform.

These sectors need to be given a platform so they can navigate between government agencies and civil society institutions on issues that are pertinent to them. They are partners in pushing for reform resolutions and sectoral agenda framing – both within and outside government – so policy proposals can be forwarded to the Office of the President.

The basic sectors are an important lobby in pushing for badly-needed legislation for the poor, and are indispensable to the essential dynamics of governance, both at the national and local levels. It is this participation in governance on the part of the sectors that NAPC has effectively institutionalized. Today, the Commission actively pursues opportunities for engagement with local government units, local and national agencies, and the rest of civil society.

NAPC enables the basic sectors to intervene in the crafting of policy proposals and to formulate strategies for implementing specific projects on sectoral issues. The Commission also assists them in liasing with government agencies on legislative issues.

The basic sectors are at the forefront of the long-term fight against poverty, and NAPC therefore believes that allowing them to be heard is crucial in the crafting of anti-poverty measures that genuinely respond to their needs.