File photo by Leanne Jazul/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – An estimated 10.5 million Filipino families consider themselves poor, the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.
According to the results of the First Quarter 2016 SWS survey first published in BusinessWorld on Friday, May 27, 46% of respondents rated themselves as poor – a 4-percentage point decline from 2015’s 50% or 11.2 million families.
The latest self-rated poverty rate was also considered the lowest in over 4 years. In December 2011, the figure was at 45%.
Conducted from March 30 to April 2, the survey was done through face-to-face interviews with 1,500 Filipinos adults nationwide. Sampling error margins are at ±3 points for national percentages, and ±6 points each for Metro Manila, North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Improvement except in Mindanao
The survey results reflected an improvement in all regions except Mindanao.
From 33% in 2015, Metro Manila’s self-rated poverty figure during the first quarter of 2016 fell to 30% or the lowest in 12 years. Balance Luzon, meanwhile, declined by two points to 44% from December 2015’s 46%.
The biggest improvement was seen in the Visayas. Self-rated poverty in the area dropped to 57% in April – 9 points from 2015’s 66%.
Self-rated poverty in Mindanao, however, rose by two points, or to 53% from 51% in December 2015.
The SWS added that the median self-rated poverty threshold was at P20,000 ($428)* in Metro Manila, and P10,000 ($214) in Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This threshold refers to the lowest necessary monthly budget by the “poorer half” of poor households to not be considered as such.
Less food-poor households
An estimated 6.9 million families or 31%, meanwhile, considered themselves “food-poor,” the survey found out. This is two points below December 2015’s 33% or 7.4 million families.
The decline, according to the SWS, was due improvements in Visayas and Mindanao.
From 50% in December 2015, the self-rated food poverty in Visayas went down to 33% – a 17-point drop. Mindanao’s score fell to 37% from 41%, a 4-point difference.
Metro Manila “hardly changed” with 22% from last December’s 21%.
Balance Luzon suffered a 3-point increase. From 26% in December, the April survey found that self-rated poverty in the area was at 29% – slightly higher than the 2015 average of 28%.
Median food poverty threshold for Metro Manila was P9,000 ($192) and P5,000 ($107) for Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Challenge to Duterte presidency
The latest figures of self-rated poverty and food poverty, considered as “multi-year lows,” are reflective of the commitment of the Aquino administration to sustainable and equitable progress, according to Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“All this has resulted in the strengthening of our economy and the expansion of opportunities for our countrymen," Lacierda added.
He added that the various direct interventions – most notably the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) – “placed families in a better position to break the intergenerational poverty” and it is now in the hands of the next administration to continue the growth.
“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,” Lacierda said. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.