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 senator, 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.
Cycle of victimization
“This is not the first time that we have seen such kind of scams that have victimized our hapless kababayan 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,” Angara said.
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 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,” he said.
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.
“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.
“A concerted public-private effort must be launched to mainstream economic and financial concepts and boost such literacy among the populace at large,” Angara said.