There are now four million more of the more than 20 million poorest of the working poor nationwide who cannot even afford the daily P293 cost of food and basic commodities needed by a Filipino family of five to survive, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) declared on Monday.
With this, the labor group urged the government to take immediate solutions, citing a survey released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that poverty continues to surpass poor workers’ take-home pay and has now overtaken minimum wage earners’ in Metro Manila and in all other regions in the Philippines since last year.
Results of the 2014 survey released March 6 this year also showed that poverty incidence among Filipino families worsened to 20 percent in the first half of 2014 from 18.8 percent in 2013 while the subsistence incidence rose from 7.5 percent in 2013 to 7.6 percent this year.
The results showed, too, that incomes of poor families were short by 27 percent of the average poverty threshold of P8,778/month or P293/day for a family of five in the first semester of 2014.
This means, on the average, an additional P2,370 was needed by a poor worker and his family with five members in order to move out of poverty.
“With its 400 days left in office, President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] must refocus and redevote his remaining time, energy and political capital if he still he wants to make a direct impact [on]Filipino workers and their families. Rather than being kept busy by sexy political issues, he has to address one of the core issues of growing and escalating poverty incidence,” TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said.
In the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) alone that pays the highest minimum wage in all 17 regions, the government said, the real value of the current P466 minimum daily wage is P356.64 or P7,846.08 a month or P932 short of the poverty threshold.
The PSA survey further showed that income of 10.5 percent of the working population cannot afford even the food threshold alone.
The poorest are in Eastern Visayas region—hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013—with 2.2 million families who cannot afford the minimum amount of P293 daily amount. The current real value of the P280 daily minimum wage is P184 a day.
The National Economic and Development Authority cited rapid rise in food prices and lingering effects of Yolanda as key reasons why poverty worsened.
Rice prices alone increased by 11.9 percent in the first semester of 2014, compared to 1.7 percent for the same period in 2013.