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Despite the country’s economic gains, Senator Sonny Angara underscored the need to improve the financial literacy of Filipinos to enable them to be a part of inclusive growth as well as equip them with skills that will protect them against scams.

“Glowing reviews and optimistic projections have been heaped on the Philippine economy, particularly regarding its financial system. Opportunities abound on account of these developments but many Filipinos do not even have a basic grasp of economic and financial concepts,” Angara said.

According to the veteran legislator, the recent discovery of close to P1-billion in fraudulent bitcoin investments only illustrates that Filipinos are still lacking in financially literacy that they still fall prey to schemes that promise huge returns in a short span of time.

The Philippine National Police on April 4 arrested Arnel and Leonady Ordonio following complaints from investors that the couple had scammed them into investing in bitcoins. The Ordonios were reported to have amassed P900 million in cryptocurrency investments from their alleged victims.

“This is not the first time that we have seen such kind of scams that have victimized our hapless kababayans whose only intention is to earn legitimate income for their families. Their lack of knowledge of the financial system and investment, however, will only continue the cycle of victimization if we do not address this,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

This is not the first time that we have seen such kind of scams that have victimized our hapless kababayans whose only intention is to earn legitimate income for their families.

In the 2015 MasterCard Financial Literacy Index, the Philippines ranked second-worst among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Countries) countries, ahead only of Indonesia.

A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also revealed that the Philippines did not have a national strategy for financial education and literacy.

“Such illiteracy hides recent economic gains from the minds of many people as it hinders them from participating meaningfully in the country’s notable ascent and economic growth,” the youthful senator said.

It will be recalled that Angara has authored a law that seeks to declare the second week of November of every year as “Economic and Financial Literacy Week” so as to develop national consciousness on economic and financial literacy.

Under Republic Act 10922, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will lead the participation of government agencies and instrumentalities such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) during the Economic and Financial Literacy Week.

It is also tasked to plan, initiate, execute and encourage knowledge-expanding activities on economic and financial literacy which may be adopted by local government units, government-owned and controlled corporation and educational institutions. Furthermore, all public and private elementary and secondary schools under the DepEd, all state and private colleges and universities under the CHED, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the NYC are mandated to conduct consciousness-raising and knowledge-expanding activities such as setting up literature corners, organizing fora and trainings, and conducting basic economic and financial management classes to improve the economic and financial literacy of students and the youth.

“We must recognize the growth potential of our country through financially-literate citizens who can make sound financial decisions, mobilize savings, and contribute ideas on improving economic and financial policies and programs,” said the vice chair of the Senate finance committee.

The DepEd is also encouraged under the law, to assess and revise the high school economics curriculum to make it more age-appropriate, and ensure that economic and financial education becomes an integral part of formal learning.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office are mandated to allot airtime for programs, and to produce and disseminate printed and online materials for economic and financial literacy awareness enhancement.

As for the private sector participation, the NEDA, in coordination with the Philippine Economic Society and in partnership with other academic and professional institutions, shall plan, initiate and encourage activities which may be adopted by the private sector and civil society in their respective offices.

“A concerted public-private effort must be launched to mainstream economic and financial concepts and boost such literacy among the populace at large,” Angara concluded.

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