The government will continue initiatives to ease poverty to lift more poor people out of poverty, Malacañang said on Saturday.
The statement was issued following reports that high rice prices and Super Typhoon Yolanda pushed more Filipinos into poverty.
But Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the scope of the study was in the last six months of 2013 and from January to June 2014.
“Medyo iba ang mga kondisyon ng panahon na iyon at kahit sinabi naman ng NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) na may epekto rin ang pagdating ng bagyong Yolanda dahil doon sa mga datos na nakuha nila [The situaton during those times were different and NEDA also said typhoon Yolanda had a big effect],” Valte said.
“I think between the time that the study was made and now, medyo malaki na rin ang difference ng naging pagbaba naman ng mga presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin dahil na rin sa naging pagbaba sa presyo ng gasolina at ng krudo [there’s a big difference because the prices of basic goods have gone down because the cost of gasoline went down],” Valte said.
She said although the government expanded the coverage of the conditional cash transfer program (CCT), the Department of Social Welfare and Development also carried out efforts to clean up its list of beneficiaries.
The DSWD delisted beneficiaries who were not complying with conditions of the CCT program.
“So nagkaroon ito ng epekto doon sa numero ng mga benepisyaryo na tumanggap ng mga grant para sa CCT—at least for the period that the NEDA studied,” she said.
“Ngayon na tapos na ang cleaning up and delisting ng mga hindi na eligible na mga beneficiaries, mas marami na rin ang nako-cover ngayon ng CCT.”
The Palace official said government will continue to pursue efforts to alleviate poverty. These initiatives include encouraging investors to put their money in the Philippines and improving the competitiveness of local industries.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan had admitted that surging food prices and the effects of Super Typhoon Yolanda “wiped out the gains in per capita income.”
A report of the Philippine Statistics Authority said high rice prices pushed the number of Filipinos living in poverty to 25.8 percent in the first half of last year despite strong economic growth.
The 1.2 percent rise was compared to the 24.6 percent of people in the Philippines who were considered poor a year earlier.
The government agency deemed a family of five who lived off P8,778 a month—roughly $1.33 per person a day—to be poor.
Nevertheless the Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, saw the average income of Filipinos rise by 6.4 percent in the first six months of 2014, Balisacan said.
The areas ravaged by Yolanda saw the most substantial jumps in poverty levels, he said.
Notwithstanding the ravages of the typhoon, the Philippine economy expanded by 6.1 percent last year, second only to China among Asian economies according to the government.