NEDA: PH poverty in H1 2015 lowest since 2006

Jodesz Gavilan

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NEDA: PH poverty in H1 2015 lowest since 2006
NEDA chief Emmanuel Esguerra says the decline in poverty levels 'could have been faster' if not for natural and man-made disasters that hit the country

MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported on Friday, March 18, that poverty incidence in the Philippines eased to a “record low” of  26.3% in the first semester of 2015 – the lowest since 2006.

Until then, poverty incidence had been practically unchanged since 2006.

According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), poverty incidence among Filipinos in the first semester of 2015 was estimated at 26.3% – a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from the 27.9% recorded in the same period in 2012, and 2.5 percentage points less than in 2006.

NEDA Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra said that since family income in the second semester is usually higher than in the first half, “full-year poverty incidence will be lower” than in the first semester.

“The full-year estimate [for 2015]  is between 23.6% and 23.8%. This is close to the high-end target of 20 to 23% for 2015,” Esguerra said.

2006 (First semester) 28.8%
2009 (First semester) 28.6%
2012 (First semester) 27.9%
2015 (First semester) 26.3% 

ARMM still poorest

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) still registered the highest poverty incidence among regions. jumping to 59% in the first half of 2015 from 52.9% in 2012. Most of the country’s poorest are in Mindanao.

The Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) posted the second highest poverty incidence of 47.3% – 1.9 percentage points higher than the 45.4% recorded in 2012, a year before Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the region.

The lowest poverty incidence can be found in the National Capital Region, at 6.5%.

ARMM 59%
Region VIII 47.3%
Region XII 44.5%
CARAGA 43.9%
Region X 40.9%
Region V 39%
Region IX 39%
Region VI 30.5%
Region VII 30.5%
Region IVB 29.8%
CAR 26.7%
Region XI 26.7%
Region I 21.7%
Region II 21.5%
Region III 15.8%
Region IVA 13.4%
NCR 6.5%

Higher poverty, food threshold

The PSA also reported an increase in the food and poverty thresholds.

Food threshold refers to the minimum income enough to purchase the food items that are nutritionally adequate based on the requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

Poverty threshold includes non-food needs such as “clothing, housing, transportation, health, and education expenses.”

For the first semester of 2015, a family of 5 needed at least P9,140 ($197) a month for its basic food and non-food needs.

Based on PSA figures, the latest food and poverty thresholds indicate increases of almost 17 percentage points from 2012 levels.

Meanwhile, subsistence incidence among Filipinos – the proportion among the population whose incomes fall under the food threshold – was estimated at 12.1% in the first semester of 2015 or 1.3 percentage points lower than in 2012.

‘Could have been faster’

The NEDA chief explained that several incidents in the past years hindered further poverty rate decline in the Philippines.

“The rate of decline between the first semester of 2006 and the same period in 2015 could have been faster, if not for the occurrences of major shocks, particularly from natural calamities like Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake and man-made disasters like the Zamboanga siege,” Esguerra said.

Despite the need to do more, Esguerra said that the latest numbers “send a strong signal” that poverty reduction programs – including the Aquino administration’s flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – are  working.

“These numbers send a strong signal that our efforts in the past years to foster inclusive growth and good governance have translated to actual and tangible improvements in the lives of our people,” he said.

Malacañang lauded the improvement on the poverty figures as “further testaments to the positive impact of good governance.”

In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda also cited PSA data that “extreme poverty – as measured by the proportion of the population unable to meet their basic food requirements – dropped for the first time below double-digit rates to 9.2% of families.”

Lacierda noted that the report on the improved poverty incidence in the country comes a week after NEDA reported an increase in the number of employed Filipinos at the start of 2016.  –

US$1 = P46

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.