SELF-rated poverty in the country hit a record low of 44 percent of families or about 10 million Filipinos in the fourth quarter of 2016, a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.
In the December 3 to 6 poll, 44 percent of respondents identified their families as “poor,” two points above the 42 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2016. In April 2016, 46 percent of respondents rated themselves “poor,” up slightly from 45 percent in June 2016.
The 2016 quarterly poverty readings yielded an average of 44 percent, six points below 2015’s average and, SWS noted, “a new record-low annual average that surpassed the previous record low of 47 percent in 1987.”
The SWS survey, first published by BusinessWorld, had sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages, ±4 points for Balance Luzon, and ±6 points for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.
Self-rated poverty was highest in the Visayas at 56 percent and lowest in Metro Manila at 31 percent or five points down from the previous quarter’s 36 percent.
Last quarter also saw a two-point drop in Mindanao, to 47 percent from 49 percent, that was matched by an eight-point increase in “Balance Luzon” to 42 percent from 34 percent.
The proportion of Filipinos who said their families were “food-poor” – or those who rated themselves as poor based on the food that they eat – also reached an all-time low of 32 percent. It surpassed the previous record-low 35 percent recorded in 2015, SWS said.
The median self-rated poverty threshold – the monthly budget families need to escape food poverty – was placed at P18,000 in Metro Manila and P10,000 in Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao
In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar attributed the record-low poverty readings to the public’s confidence in President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to bring about “change” in society.
“We take note of the survey finding that self-rated poverty rose in Balance Luzon. We thus factor in stronger-than-usual typhoons that hit Luzon towards the latter part of the year, which may have affected the perception of our respondents. Typhoon ‘Karen’ damaged thousands of hectares of agricultural lands in Ilocos, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol. Typhoon ‘Lawin’ likewise damaged houses and crops and displaced thousands in the northern part of Luzon,” he said.
“The Department of Agriculture has been providing assistance to those affected farmers in the wake of two destructive storms last year,” the Palace official added.