Guns, Goons, and Gold
By Alex Tizon
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Knight Fellow, International Center for Journalists
MASBATE: This is supposed to be the geographic center of the Philippines, but it’s also one of the wildest and poorest places in this poor and unruly nation. Here I met widows of murder victims, with fish-less fisherfolk and destitute gold miners. I also met a governor who is nice enough, but may need to get more acquainted with her own province.
MA. THERESA Briones thinks it’s bad enough that her father had to spend five years in jail – including two years with hardened criminals – because something he wrote offended someone. But now five libel cases are again hovering over her father’s head, and 22-year-old Theresa can’t help but cry.
|About the Province
Masbate is an island province located in the Bicol Region, right at the center of the Philippine archipelago. To its south is the Visayan Sea, and the Burias Pass and Ticao Pass to its north. It is composed of three major islands and 14 small islands. According to 2000 statistics, it has a population of 707,668 and an average annual growth rate of 1.7 percent.
Poverty in Masbate has improved, sliding down to the number three spot in 2003. In 2000, however, poverty was found to be most severe in Masbate. It registered the biggest poverty gap at 22.6 percent. This means that the income of families in the province should be increased by P3,051.21 to completely eradicate poverty.
Masbate has a human development index value of .518, ranking 67th among 79 provinces in 2000.
• 3rd poorest province (2003)
Millennium Development Goals
Countryside in Figures