The government social program includes the purchase and subdivision of big estates for resale on installment plans, the settlement of landless families in new areas, building of rural roads, schools, and medical clinics, and the distribution of relief supplies to the needy. Other programs directly geared to social change fall under the Ministry of Human Settlements and Community Development. Among these are nutrition programs for infants, the Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS) program for depressed areas, and the Livelihood Improvement Program (Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran— KKK) designed to channel economic growth into projects— notably in agriculture, fishing, and cottage and light industries— capable of enhancing self-sufficiency at the village level.
The Social Security System (SSS) covers both temporary and permanent employees, including domestic workers. Membership for employers is compulsory. Benefits include compensation for confinement due to injury or illness, pensions for temporary incapacity, indemnities to families in case of death, old age pensions, and benefits to widows and orphans. Charges to cover the system are paid jointly by employers and employees and according to 23 wage classes. A medical care plan for employees provides hospital, surgical, medicinal, and medical-expense benefits to members and their dependents, as well as paid maternity leave.
A handful of women enjoy high prestige and visibility, but most women occupy traditional social roles and occupations. Women on average earn about half as much as men. Most, but not all, of the legal rights enjoyed by men are extended to women. Spousal abuse and violence remain serious concerns. The absence of divorce laws and lack of economic opportunity keep women in destructive relationships.
The government has enacted various measures in recent years to safeguard the rights of children. Child prostitution, while illegal, is widespread and has contributed to the growing sextourism industry. A new family court system strengthened safeguards against the sale of children.
Some human rights violations remain, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and disappearances.