MANILA, Philippines – An estimated 12.1 million families in the Philippines consider themselves poor, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
This number represents 55% of the responders in self-rated poverty survey conducted in the 3rd quarter of 2014, and increase from 2013’s average of 52%.
Meanwhile, 43% or an estimated 9.3 million families consider themselves food-poor. The number increased by 2 percentage points since the last quarter and 4 percentage points compared to last year’s 39% average.
The survey was conducted from September 26 to 29 using personal interviews with Filipino adult heads of households around the Philippines.
Monthly budget mostly increased
According to the SWS survey, first published in BusinessWorld, the self-rated poverty threshold increased in Metro Manila. Households now need a monthly budget P15,000 ($334)* for home expenses for them not to be considered poor – an increase from the P12,000 ($267) previously needed.
The amount fell to P8,000, from P10,000 ($223), in the Visayas. The needed monthly budget for households in the rest of Luzon and Mindanao remains at P10,000 ($223).
The families’ monthly food budget to be considered beyond poverty threshold mostly increased. From P6,000 ($133), it should be P8,000 ($178) now for households in Manila.
Mindanao families’ food budget has increased to P5,000 ($111) from last quarter’s P4,500 ($100), while families in the rest of Luzon should now set aside monthly food budget of P5,250 ($117) compared to P5,000 ($111) from before.
The SWS noted that this quarter’s food-poverty thresholds are the highest ever recorded in Mindanao and Luzon.
The Visayas recorded the only decrease this quarter – from P5,000 ($111), the monthly food budget dropped to P3,550 ($79) in just 3 months.
Relatively high despite decrease
The poll results showed that Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon are the areas where self-rated poverty and food-poverty are fast becoming more prevalent.
Self-rated poverty rose in Metro Manila – from last quarter’s 37%, it is now up by 6% at 43%.
Despite a decrease by 9%, the Visayas still remains with the highest prevalence of self-rated poor households with 65%. Mindanao comes in second with 61% and Luzon at 52%.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila and Luzon registered a self-rated poverty prevalence of 30% and 37%, respectively. Mindanao went down to 52% while Visayas remained virtually unchanged at 54%.
‘Biggest portion’ in the 2015 budget
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said that while the Office of the President notes the results of the SWS survey, government policies are based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES).
The first semester of 2013 results of FIES showed that poverty incidence in the country increased to 24.9% compared to 2012’s 27.9%.
The government “shall continue to focus on intensifying programs for poverty reduction and social protection” by increasing the budget and coverage of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCT), he said.
The CCT or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the flagship poverty alleviation program of the government, gives a monthly stipend up to P1,400 ($31) to indigent families for the households’ needs. Since it started, the program has been controversial and has been criticized within and outside the government. (READ: Lawmakers question DWSWD’s conditional cash transfer program)
According to Coloma, the 2015 National Expenditure Program includes the “biggest portion” of the budget to social services, with P967.9 billion ($21.5 billion) allocated, comprising 37.2% of the budget.
“The proposed budget also focuses on delivering high impact projects in 44 provinces with high poverty magnitude where more job opportunities will be created,” he added. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44