Poverty persists despite the rhetoric


ACCORDING to the latest installment of a regularly conducted survey by the Ibon Foundation, five years of the Aquino Administration’s “straight path” has hardly dented the persistence of poverty in the Philippines.

The survey, which the group reports was conducted among nearly 1,500 families across the country in mid-May, reveals that 67 percent of the respondents – 2 out of every 3 people – consider themselves “poor.” About 24 percent consider themselves “not poor,” while a little less than 10 percent were either unsure or offered no response.

The results stand in stark contrast, as they almost always do, to official government estimates of poverty prevalence. In the most recent report of the official Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), poverty incidence was estimated to be just 26 percent, with 10.5 percent falling below the subsistence threshold.

Government officials invariably point to differences in survey methodology as the source of the usual discrepancy between the FIES and the Ibon survey, and to some extent they are correct.

However, experienced statisticians familiar with both have suggested that such “technical differences” should only amount to differences in the results of a few percentage points one way or another. The results of the Ibon survey, which show poverty incidence is more than double what the government claims, may not be completely accurate (it has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent, which the experts say is normal for a survey of this type), but they cannot possibly be so erroneous as to differ from the government data by an entire order of magnitude or more.

One clue to the difference is the definition of “poverty” used by the government, compared with what the Ibon Foundation estimates is a realistic poverty threshold. The official government poverty threshold is P58 per person per day. At current exchange rates, that is equivalent to $1.28, very close to the $1.25 per day threshold considered an international standard. By comparison, Ibon estimates a family of six actually requires P1,086 per day, or about P181 ($4.00) per person.

What is important to remember, however, is that the Ibon survey does not identify poverty according to an income benchmark, but rather people’s perceptions; one could be earning well over the established threshold and still feel poor.

That is what should be of grave concern to the Aquino Administration and anyone who hopes to succeed President BS Aquino 3rd. For all the rhetoric about “Tuwid na Daan” and “inclusive growth,” two-thirds of the country still feel they are disadvantaged. And circumstances such as the lagging recovery from calamities such as Typhoon Yolanda, the persistently high cost of power, deteriorating transportation infrastructure, and expensive, unreliable services such as water and internet, suggest those feelings are not at all misplaced.

That two-thirds of the Filipino people feel they are no better off and perhaps even worse off than they were before Aquino took office should be regarded by the President and his coterie for what it is – an embarrassing shame and an indictment against his government’s lack of sensitivity and attention to people’s basic needs.


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  1. It hurts me to see and understand there are so many suffering in the Philippines.
    I am an American, but I have an interest in the Philippines, a country that puts family first, job second.
    In America, it is job first, family second.
    You are better because you put family first!
    I wish your government would feel the same!
    I have been to he Philippines 3 times and I love the Philippines and hope to live there soon. I wish to help all the people in the Philippines to make a better country, FOR ALL THE PEOPLE!!!.
    I am ashamed that my USA government does not do more to help you, to show you a way to better yourselves, as a people and a nation.
    But the US only cares about money and profit, and they give favorable trade agreements to China, because they wish to kiss their ass, when they should be helping the Philippines, with favorable trade agreements, because you are our most valued allies in the region!!
    Not only are you are most valued allies, but you are the best people in all the world to show the value of family and belief in God! A belief that we must ALL should understand and follow …”Do unto others as we would have them do unto us!!!!”
    The Philippine people follow this “rule” much, much more than our governments follow it!! So get off your government asses and start working for the benefit of all people!!!
    My government and yours!!!
    I love you Philippines!!!
    Always your friend,
    American How

    • You need to better inform yourself, you sound like someone who has little grasp of any facts and think and talk with your backside.

  2. sonny dela cruz on

    Talk is CHEAP. Somebody has to lead and take over the government NOW, if not just just don’t COMPLAIN. There’s nothing you guys can do because he is too protected and still he can do whatever he wants to do. Your AFP will not protect you people but they will protect him because they have been taken care of. Don’t expect JUSTICE because there’s none. The laws are being violated and nobody cares. Nobody goes to prison. It’s all up to the Filipino people to look for their own DESTINY.

  3. lack of planning such as development of infrastructures in other major cities to encourage investment and job creation. Major cities such as Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Bacolod City, Baguio city, etc. most of the infrastructure development are in the Metro Manila causing congestion and grid lock. another is poor planning and lack of basic services for the poor and unemployed such as job training

  4. Vic Penetrante on

    Aquino is establishing the path of the poor to heaven by his “tuwid na daan.” The LP group are the rich men always having a party, the poor man is Lazarus.

  5. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, not really a surprise. Everyone in congress gets richer every year while people go hungry.

  6. Aquino being an insensitive person and a spoiled brat who grew up in a wealthy family does not feel any sympathy and concern to the plight of poor people living below the poverty line. This man, Aquino, is only concern about the paper economic growth which excludes the ordinary working family man. His presidency is a total failure in alleviating social economic and financial needs of majority of the populace. It is common that a family of four would miss one meal a day so as to tide over the hunger during the day. It is not surprising the high incidence of crimes, like robberies, thefts, carnapping, murder for hire, fraudulent businesses are soaring that the Police enforcers are too busy to meet the increasing crime rates. Crimes is product or offshoot of economic maladies. Aquino is busy politicking and shoring up his achievements which one can not see or feel. Aquino as a mediocre president being twisted minded will not be able to save the poor from wallowing in poverty. I hope goes to jail when his term is over for illegal disbursements of government funds like PDAP and DAP to his political allies, whom he rely on later after he become an ordinary citizen.