Part 1 News: Growing Too SlowSocial Service: Poverty News

2014 self-rated poverty worst in 8 years

Posted on December 28, 2014 10:18:00 PM


By Imee Charlee C. DelavinReporter


FEWER FILIPINOS consider themselves poor as 2014 comes to a close, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, although the annualized average of self-rated poverty turned out to be the worst in eight years.


Results of a Nov. 27-Dec. 1 survey conducted among 1,800 adults nationwide — with sampling error margins of ±2% for national percentages; ±6% each for Metro Manila, “Balance Luzon” and Mindanao; and ±3% for the Visayas — showed self-rated poverty in these last three months of 2014 at its lowest in five quarters.

The latest survey found 52% — equivalent to an estimated 11.4 million households — considering themselves poor, down three points from the third quarter’s 55% (or an estimated 12.1 million people).

But that three-point dip in nationwide self-rated poverty rate, SWS noted, was due to a seven-point drop in “Balance Luzon” as the rate was steady elsewhere.

Moreover, this quarter’s nationwide result brings 2014’s full-year average to 54% — the worst in this administration and since the same average seen in 2006.

The poll also had 41% (an estimated 9.1 million families) considering the type of food they eat as “mahirap” or poor, down just slightly from the 43% seen three months earlier.

This year’s average self-rated food poverty rate, also at 41%, is worse than 2013’s 39% and the same as 2012’s rate.

By geographic area, self-rated poverty fell seven points in “Balance Luzon” to 45% in December 2014 from the 52% in the third quarter. This, SWS noted, brings the 2014 average self-rated poverty rate in Luzon areas outside Metro Manila to 48%, similar to the 2013 average for the same area.

In Metro Manila, it maintained the 43% seen last quarter, bringing the 2014 average self-rated poverty to 40% — the lowest in seven years or since 2007’s 39%.

It stayed at 65% in the Visayas, bringing the 2014 average for this area to 67% — the worst in three years or since 2011’s 57%.

In Mindanao, self-rated poverty came in at 60% this quarter, barely changed from the September survey’s 61% for the island. This, SWS noted, brings Mindanao’s average self-rated poverty rate for 2014 to 62%, seven points above 2013’s 55% but five points better than 2012’s 67%.

The negligible improvement in self-rated food poverty this quarter, meanwhile, was due to a fall in Metro Manila and a slip in the Visayas, combined with steady rates in “Balance Luzon” and Mindanao.

Self-rated food poverty fell six points in Metro Manila to 24% this quarter from 30% three months earlier. This led to an average Metro Manila self-rated food poverty rate of 27% this year, two points below 2013’s 29%.

In the Visayas, the rate slipped to 51% this quarter from 53% in the preceding three months, bringing the 2014 average rate in the area to 51% — the worst in 11 years or since 2003’s 62%.

In “Balance Luzon”, it stayed at 37% this quarter, bringing the 2014 average to 36%, flat from 2013.

In Mindanao, it remained at 52% from last quarter. This brings the 2014 average rate to 50%, six points above the 2013 average of 44% for the island.

The SWS survey also found the self-rated poverty threshold — the monthly budget that poor households need for home expenses in order not to consider themselves poor in general — at a record-high in Metro Manila and the Visayas at P20,000 (from P15,000 last quarter) and P12,000 (from P8,000) respectively.

It stayed at P10,000 in Mindanao, and fell to P8,000 (from P10,000) in “Balance Luzon.”

“The minimum home budget is less than the minimum income that it (household) needs because it excludes work-related expenses like transportation,” SWS explained in its report.

“The December 2014 median self-rated poverty thresholds in Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas, while the latest figure of P8,000 in Balance Luzon was previously surpassed in September 2014 when it was at P10,000.”

The self-rated food poverty threshold — the monthly food budget that food-poor households need in order not to consider themselves food-poor — also saw record highs in Metro Manila and the Visayas, SWS said.

“The median food poverty threshold is the food budget that would satisfy the poorer half of food-poor households,” the report read further.

The fourth quarter median self-rated food poverty threshold came in at P9,000 in Metro Manila (from P8,000); P5,000 in the Visayas (from P3,550); and P4,000 each in “Balance Luzon” (from P5,250) and Mindanao (from P5,000).

SWS noted that the December 2014 median self-rated food poverty thresholds in Metro Manila and the Visayas are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas.

Asked to comment on the survey findings, Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., said the government remains committed to sustain its efforts to achieve its poverty reduction objectives.

“Improvements in these indicators need to be sustained. There are still large sections of citizenry rating themselves poor and hungry. That is why the biggest portion of the 2015 budget — or more than 37% — is allocated to poverty reduction and social protection,” Mr. Coloma said in a text message.

Political analyst Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia — secretary general of the Association of Political Consultants in Asia and founder of PUBLiCUS Asia, Inc. — cautioned that percentages over years should be taken in the context of a growing population, meaning there are likely “more poor today” than in past years.

“Looking at the percentages may lull readers into a celebratory mood when in fact there are more poor today with our overall population total hitting 107 million Filipinos as of July 2014,” Ms. Tiquia said in an e-mail.

For annualized self-rated poverty rates, she noted that “the trend was going down” across administrations beginning with former president Ferdinand E. Marcos.

“Average self-rated poverty was at its lowest in December 2009 under PGMA [former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo]. Though it appeared to go down under President Benigno S.C. Aquino III to 48% in 2010 and 49% in 2011, self-rated poverty has further increased to an average of 54% in… 2014,” Ms. Tiquia said.

“It would appear that the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), running in billions, is not the answer to mitigating poverty and hunger. The CCT ensures health and education of poor kids but not work for the parents or nutritious food on the table for the household. Since it is conditional, the Aquino administration should be able to complement the same with a long-term solution and not a palliative one, which does not address decades of poverty.”

In the 2015 national budget approved by Malacañang last week, social services got the chunk with a P62.3-billion allocation to support the government’s flagship CCT poverty-alleviation program. The Department of Social Welfare and Development also got a P103.9-billion budget for next year, 24.6% more than the P83.4 billion it was allocated this year.

“The review of the results though shows trends holding on for decades. The existing silos approach by the Aquino administration cannot solve the perception problem. Only an integrated and concerted approach involving domestic investments, entrepreneurship, creation of more jobs and managing food prices for the real poor (those below the poverty threshold) should be formulated and implemented in the last two years,” Ms. Tiquia said.



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