Around 12.1 million Filipino families consider themselves poor in the third quarter of 2014, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The survey result released on Monday said 55 percent of the respondents claimed to be poor, three points higher than the 52 percent average in the four quarters of 2013. It also noted a rise in self-rated poverty in Metro Manila and Luzon.
Also, the poll found that 9.3 million families claimed they were poor in terms of food, two points higher than the 41 percent recorded in the second quarter and four points higher than the 39 percent four-quarter average in 2013.
The third quarter survey was taken from September 26 to 29. The poll used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 Filipinos who were asked if their families were poor, not poor or on the line.
Respondents were also asked how much money would be required for their households not to be considered poor. Error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey.
Increases in self-rated poverty in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon offset the decline in Mindanao and Visayas, the SWS said.
Self-rated poverty went up by six points in Metro Manila from 37 percent to 43 percent in June, and rose seven points in the Balance Luzon to 52 percent from 45 percent.
This was down 10 points in Mindanao from 71 percent to 61 percent, and nine points in the Visayas from 74 percent to 65 percent.
Self-rated food poverty was three points higher in Metro Manila at 30 percent from 27 percent in June. It was higher by five points in Balance Luzon, from 32 percent to 37 percent.
Meanwhile, self-rated food poverty “hardly changed” in the Visayas at 53 percent in September from 54 percent in June. It went down three points in Mindanao to 52 percent from 55 percent.
The SWS survey also found that the self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget poor households needed for home expenses so they would not consider themselves poor in general, increased to a median of P15,000 from P12,000 in Metro Manila.
This remained at P10,000 in Balance Luzon, and fell to P8,000 from P10,000 in the Visayas.
“The September 2014 median self-rated poverty thresholds in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas, while the latest figure in the Visayas was previously surpassed in June 2014, when it was at P10,000,” the pollster explained.
This minimum home budget is less than the minimum income needed as it excludes work-related expenses like transportation.
Thus, the median poverty threshold “is the home expense budget that would satisfy the poorer half of the poor households.”
Meanwhile, the self-rated food poverty threshold, or the monthly food budget that food-poor households need so they would not consider themselves food-poor, rose to a median of P8,000 from P6,000 in Metro Manila.
It went up to P5,250 from P5,000 in Balance Luzon; and to P5,000 from P4,500 in Mindanao. But it dropped to a median of P3,550 in the Visayas from P5,000 in June.
Down by 3 points
When asked for the administration’s reaction to the rise in the number of Filipinos who consider themselves poor, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government is taking steps to create jobs and to improve the quality of life in the country.
He, however, noted that while they take cognizance of the slight rise in self-rated poverty and self-rated food poverty, the government policies and programs are pursued based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the Philippine Statistics Authority, which, according to him, shows that “poverty incidence has eased to 24.9 percent for the first semester of 2013 compared to the 27.9 percent in the same period in 2012.”
On the other hand, Coloma said the same FIES also “showed subsistence incidence or the proportion of extremely poor Filipino individuals who could not afford to meet basic food requirements, also declined during the period from 13.4 percent in 2012 to 10.7 percent in 2013.”
“Nonetheless, the government shall continue to focus on intensifying programs for poverty reduction and social protection including increasing the budget and
coverage of the Conditional Cash Transfer program,” he added.
In the proposed P2.606-trillion budget for 2015, the government earmarked the biggest portion of the budget to social services at P967.9 billion or 37.2 percent.
“The proposed budget also focuses on delivering high impact projects in 44 provinces with high poverty magnitude where more job opportunities will be created, provinces with high poverty incidence that require adequate social safety nets and those which are vulnerable to natural calamities,” Coloma said.