THE Philippine government assured officials from the United Nations (UN) that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be incorporated in the next Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2010 to 2016.

"The Neda is already starting the next planning cycle, and we will of course include the MDGs as we try to coordinate the planning for the next six years," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. during the recent courtesy visit by the UN Country Team with the President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet at Malacañang's Premier Guest House.

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Paderanga said the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) will ensure the disaggregation of plans and targets at the regional level to determine which regions are lagging behind in terms of achieving the MDGs.

"We will be reviewing the targets, as well as reminding the other agencies that the MDGs are good milestones to consider relative to the MTPDP," he said.

The MDGs are a set of specific and time-bound development targets committed by the UN-member states to be achieved by 2015.

The eight goals were formulated to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop global partnership for development.

The meeting was attended by UN Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Jacqueline Badcock, and other heads of UN attached agencies based in the Philippines. Among the Cabinet members present were Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

Earlier, Paderanga directed Neda to fully engage the different government agencies and other stakeholders in fleshing out the contents of the MTPDP.

But he said Neda's main responsibility is to set the parameters on how the plans can be made consistent.

"The Neda will not solely write the MTPDP. We want to strengthen the sense of ownership of the government agencies to the Plan," Paderanga said.

A week after the meeting in Malacañang, Badcock and her team visited Paderanga in the Neda Office to continue the discussion on the MDGs, as well as the UN Development Assistance Framework (Undaf).

Paderanga welcomed the UN's commitment to align with the MTPDP the new Undaf for the Philippines, which will be renewed in 2011.

The Undaf is a strategic framework that outlines the collective response of a UN country team to the development priorities of their host country.

Paderanga reiterated to the UN Country Team that one of the features of the new MTPDP is the focus on regional development.

"In the drafting of the MTPDP, the government will focus on the regional aspects of development and how regional plans will interface with the national plan. It makes sense to explore regional dimensions in order to facilitate inclusive growth and address problems in inequity," Paderanga told the UN officials.