THE number of Filipino families who say they are poor fell to a record low in the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The poll, conducted from September 24 to 27, showed that 42 percent, equivalent to 9.4 million Filipino families, rated themselves as “mahirap” or poor.
The latest figure broke the previous record of 43 percent set in March 2010 and 1987. Self-rated poverty in December 2015 stood at 52 percent.
In its report, the SWS said self-rated poverty had been either steady or declining for eight consecutive quarters, from 52 percent in December 2014.
SWS also said 6.7 million or 30 percent of families considered themselves “food-poor,” slightly lower than the 31 percent (6.9 million families) recorded in April and June.
It said the latest self-rated poverty readings were a good start for the Duterte administration’s efforts to bring down the official poverty rate to 16 to 17 percent by mid-2022, from 26.3 percent in the first half of 2015.
SWS attributed the decline in self-rated poverty nationwide to drops in Luzon and Mindanao that were partly offset by increases in Metro Manila and the Visayas.
In Luzon, self-rated poverty fell by seven percentage points to mark a new record-low 34 percent in September, from 41 percent in June.
It fell by five percentage points in Mindanao to 49 percent from 54 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since June 2013’s 47 percent.
However, self-rated poverty rose by four percentage points in Metro Manila to 36 percent in September from 32 percent in June, and by four points in the Visayas to 56 percent from 52 percent.
Self-rated food poverty, meanwhile, went down by three points in Luzon to a new low 24 percent in September from June’s 27 percent, while in the Visayas it slipped a point to 36 percent from 37 percent.
Food poverty, however, went up by two percentage points in Mindanao to 41 percent in September from 39 percent in June, and stayed at 20 percent in Metro Manila.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar welcomed the survey results, saying “change has indeed come and it is being felt by our people.”
“For the past 100 days since his assumption, President Duterte has been finding ways to make economic growth work for the poor with focus on the country’s 10 poorest provinces,” Andanar said in a news conference.
“We have made a strong start and we expect to continue making headway,” he added.
Andanar said the Duterte administration “reaffirms the state policy to preserve prime agricultural lands to ensure food security.”
The SWS survey also showed that the median self-rated poverty threshold, the lowest monthly budget for home expenses needed by households to not consider themselves poor, stayed the same at P15,000 in Luzon.
It also steadied at P10,000 in the Visayas and Mindanao, and fell to P16,000 in Metro Manila in September from P20,000 in June.
SWS noted that the self-rated poverty thresholds in Luzon and Mindanao were the highest levels ever reached in those areas.