Press Release
April 29, 2018


More than a tool against investment scams, Senator Sonny Angara said financial literacy could play a key role in fostering financial inclusion and fighting poverty, especially in a country like the Philippines where every citizen strives to make the most out of their money.

Th senator said that poor financial literacy is arguably one of the biggest challenges the country needs to hurdle to achieve more a sustainable, broad-based and inclusive economic growth.

"Often, the most vulnerable sectors of our society are the ones who bear the biggest brunt of having poor financial literacy," Angara said. "To many, abject poverty is just one family member getting sick away, one bad flood or typhoon, one poor harvest, or one slow selling day."

Thus, the senator underscored the importance of providing financial education to every Filipino, especially the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families who continue to suffer from financial distress due to improper money management.

"I remember talking to an OFW who shared that after working in the Middle East of close to a decade, he came home only to find out that the house which he put so much money in was not yet finished, and that his family did not have any form of savings or investment other than a small sari-sari store," the vice chair of the Senate committe on finance narrated.

In 2016, OFW remittances hit a record high of P1.4 trillion. According to the World Bank, the Philippines ranks third among the largest recipients of remittances next to India and China.

"Think about just how much of that wealth is lost just because of poor financial literacy," Angara lamented.

According to him, financial literacy is about helping people to "take control of their financial destinies in an increasingly complex world" and "equipping them with the means to meaningfully participate and contribute to our fast moving economy."

"Ultimately, it's about teaching them hope, to think more about the future. To believe that they can aspire to build a better life for themselves and their loved ones," the lawmaker added.

Earlier, Angara said it is necessary to improve financial literacy of Filipinos in order to guard them against scammers in light of recent discovery of close to P1 billion in fraudulent bitcoin investments.

He said such scam flourished because Filipinos are still lacking in financial literacy that they still fall prey to schemes that promise huge returns in a short span of time.

Angara has been pushing for financial literacy to be included in the basic curriculum of all schools in the country when he was still a congressman representing the lone district of Aurora province.

This became a reality during the 16th Congress, with the enactment of Republic Act 10679 or the Youth Entrepreneurship and Financial Education Act of 2015, which mandates that students be taught about personal finance as early as primary school.

That same year, the Standard and Poor's released a global financial literacy survey showing that the Philippines, among 140 countries surveyed, belonged to the bottom 30 countries for financial literacy.

Based on the report, financial literacy was measured through respondents' understanding of concepts like interest, inflation, investment and savings. It found out that only 25 percent of adults in the Philippines were considered financially literate--a little bit higher than Burundi (24 percent), Vietnam (24 percent) and Cambodia (18 percent).

Angara called on the financial markets' group ACI Philippines--the local chapter of the Paris-based Association Cambiste Internationale--to play a bigger role in terms of sharing its financial know-how, not just to its members but to the rest of the community as well.

He urged ACI Philippines to help the government in promoting good management of personal finances and removing the stigma that financial literacy is only needed by the well-off individuals.

"There must also be concerted effort in helping Filipinos realize that proper knowledge regarding this aspect can have a wider impact than many estimate," Angara said.

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