NEDA: More poor Filipinos due to calamities


MANILA, Philippines – More Filipino families could fall into poverty this year due to Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and an earthquake that struck Visayas in the third quarter.

In a press briefing on Monday, December 9, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Director General Rosemarie Edillon said a study to be released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that poverty incidence could increase by 1.5 pecentage points due to the massive destruction caused by the calamities.

Edillon said this means 1.5 million people may fall into poverty in affected areas.

She said Eastern Visayas (Region VIII), now the second-poorest region in the country, could dislodge the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the poorest.

Yolanda, one of the world's strongest typhoons on record, battered the Visayas region on November 8, wiping out entire towns, killing at least 5,000 people and displacing over 4 million others.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake also struck Bohol and nearby provinces in October, leaving more than 200 people dead.

"It (study) was a simulation of a Yolanda-like disaster. So looking at what regions were affected, Region VIII, a bit of Region VI, a bit of Region VII. This translates to 1.5 million [people]. But this is not for the full year, it's just for this quarter," Edillon said. 

Meanwhile, short-term reconstruction and rehabilitation plan for areas affected by Yolanda has been submitted twice to the President, Edillon said.

The plan is still being refined to include more details particularly on how funds will be spent in affected areas.

Edillon added that the initial cost of P38.8 billion for the reconstruction for the next 12 months may also be increased as additional data on damage come in.

The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) is also being finalized by NEDA to incorporate changes due to the effect of Yolanda.

The PDP is the government's macroeconomic blueprint, which may be presented to the NEDA board before 2013 ends. The PDP will be released to the public in January 2014. 

"We are looking at strategies that could be fasttracked, those that don't involve huge logistics, they can be implemented right away," Edillon said. 

The government is banking on the PDP and the rehab plan to improve the condition of  poor Filipinos in the short and medium term. –