About 10.5 million Filipino families remained poor in the first quarter of the year, while some 6.9 million others see themselves as having barely enough food to eat, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The survey, conducted between March 30 and April 2 and first published in BusinessWorld on Friday, showed that the poverty and food poverty figure were “multi-year lows” under the Aquino administration.
It showed that 46 percent of respondents, or about 10.5 million families, rated themselves mahirap or poor. This was better than the 50 percent or 11.2 million in December 2015.
SWS also noted the 46 percent was the lowest in over four years or since December 2011’s 45 percent, reflecting drops across all regions except in Mindanao.
“The 4-point decline in self-rated poverty rate nationwide in the first quarter of 2016 was because of a decline in the Visayas, Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, combined with a 2-point rise in Mindanao,” SWS explained.
The highest self-rated poverty was at 55 percent in March 2012, December 2013 and June and September 2014.
The SWS survey also found that 31 percent or an estimated 6.9 million families consider the type of food they eat as “food-poor,” two points below the 33 percent or 7.4 million logged in December last year.
It matched the record low of 31 percent first recorded in March 2010.
The SWS attributed the April dip to the reported declines in self-rated food poverty rates in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
The pollster reported a steady score in Metro Manila and a three-point rise in Balance Luzon.
Meanwhile, the median self-rated poverty threshold or the lowest monthly home expense budget needed by the poorer half of poor households not to consider themselves as such, remained at P20,000 in Metro Manila and P10,000 in Balance Luzon, in the Visayas and in Mindanao.
The minimum home budget, SWS explained, is less than the minimum income that a household needs because it excludes work-related expenses like transportation.
On one hand, the median food poverty threshold or the lowest monthly food budget needed by families so as not to consider themselves as such, was P9,000 in Metro Manila and P5,000 in Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and in Mindanao.
SWS said the April 2016 median self-rated food poverty thresholds in the Visayas and Mindanao were the highest levels ever reached in those areas.
SWS, which polled 1,500 adults for this round, said its survey has sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages and ±6 points each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed the SWS’ latest survey findings, saying all this has resulted in the “strengthening of our economy and the expansion of opportunities for our countrymen.”
“For the past six years, we in the Aquino administration have remained unwavering in our commitment to sustainable and equitable progress. Believing that good governance is good economics, we have sought to better the lives of Filipinos by making appropriate investments in areas such as health, education, infrastructure and job skills development,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.
“Not content with trickle-down growth, we have also pursued more direct interventions such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” he said.
Lacierda then cited the latest studies from the Department of Social Welfare and Development showing that the program has “not only successfully lifted millions above the poverty threshold, but has also placed families in a better position to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.”
“Now, with the world’s eyes on the Philippines, it is up to the next administration to ensure that our remarkable growth story continues—toward even greater success for the country and even better opportunities for the Filipino,” he added.