MORE Filipino families considered themselves poor in the past three months, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The first quarter SWS survey showed that 50 percent or about 11.5 million families thought of themselves as poor, six points higher than the 44 percent or an estimated 10 million recorded in December 2016.
The self-rated poverty reading, SWS said, “had been either steady or declining for nine consecutive quarters from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016.”
Self-rated poverty jumped across all geographical areas, but was most evident in Balance Luzon (Luzon except Metro Manila), which saw an eight-point increase to 50 percent.
Mindanao saw a six-point increase to 53 percent. The Visayas recorded the highest self-rated poverty at 57 percent, up by a point.
Food poverty also higher
A total of 8.1 million families or 35 percent rated themselves “food-poor” or unable to pay for daily regular meals. This was also an increase from the 34 percent or 7.7 million food-poor families recorded in December 2016.
“Self-rated food-poverty had been either steady or declining from the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016,” SWS said.
The SWS survey pegged the median poverty threshold, the monthly home expense budget “that would satisfy the poorer half of poor households,” at P20,000 for Metro Manila and P10,000 for Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
“The minimum home budget is less than the minimum income that a poor family needs because it excludes work-related expenses, such as transportation,” the SWS said.
It also said the median food poverty threshold—which refers to the monthly food budget that would satisfy the poorer half of the food-poor households—was P9,000 in Metro Manila and P5,000 each in Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
“The March 2017 median self-rated food poverty thresholds in the Visayas and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas,” SWS said.
The non-commissioned survey, conducted from March 25 to 28 and was first published by BusinessWorld, had sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Poor need more info
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government would continue to pursue efforts to alleviate poverty.
“Government therefore needs to intensify its response in addressing the problem of poverty, with the help of business, civil society and other vital stakeholders, and it also has to heighten awareness of the programs and projects of the government in helping the poor,” Abella said in a statement.
He pointed to the government’s “pro-poor and inclusive efforts,” such as higher pension for seniors, free medicine for indigents, added incentive and combat duty pay for police and soldiers, gratuity pay to job-order and contract workers in the government, and regularization of tens of thousands of employees.
“To generate livelihood opportunities for our people, the Duterte administration gives certificates of land ownership awards to farmer-beneficiaries, turns over farm machinery and equipment to farmers and distributes fishing boats to fishermen, accelerates higher infrastructure spending, and promotes easy-access microfinancing system, among others,” Abella said.
“While circumstances are quickly improving, people need to know what is available ‘out there,'” the Palace official added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE