Majority of Pinoys say they are poor
The number of poor Filipino families increased as prices of basic commodities, particularly food, surged, according to the latest survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The pollster found that Filipino families rating themselves poor increased by 1.1 million between June and September, the highest level of self-rated poverty incidence in four years.
An average Filipino family has five members.
The nationwide survey conducted from Sept. 15 to 23 found that self-rated poverty jumped to 52 percent, equivalent to some 12.2 million families, from 48 percent, or 11.1 million families in June.
It was the second straight quarter this year that the figure had risen, increasing 10 points between March and September.
Cid Terosa, dean of the School of Economics at University of Asia and the Pacific, said inflation and the rising cost of food propelled the rise in self-rated poverty nationwide.
Inflation rose to 6.7 percent in September, a fresh nine-year high.
Of the 52 percent who considered themselves poor in September, 8 percent were “newly poor,” or those who rated themselves not poor one to four years ago, SWS said.
The pollster also found that 36 percent, or 8.5 million families, considered themselves food-poor, up by 700,000 families from 34 percent in June.
The survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,500 respondents and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
Labor groups said the increase in the number of Filipinos who rated themselves poor showed that the Duterte administration had been “ineffective” in providing families a comfortable life, a campaign promise of the President.
Nagkaisa labor coalition spokesperson Rene Magtubo said the administration’s senatorial candidates could end up losing in the elections in May 2019 because of the government’s failure to ease poverty.
Vice president Julius Cainglet of the Federation of Free Workers said the survey results should prompt the administration to provide better wages to workers who could “no longer cope with the abnormal rise of the inflation rate.”
Malacañang expressed concern over the SWS findings.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace “understood the people’s sentiment,” noting that the survey was done last month when the inflation rate rose to 6.7 percent.
“For one, the destruction to agriculture and infrastructure caused by Typhoon ‘Ompong’ in the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan regions contributed to higher inflation,” he said.
“This would explain why self-rated poverty in Balance Luzon [outside Metro Manila] rose to 47 percent in September,” he added.
Roque reiterated that measures had been implemented “to cushion the impact of inflation and bring food on the table of poor families.”
On Monday, President Duterte ordered unimpeded importation of rice to rein in inflation.
“No Filipino family should be hungry. That is the order and desire of the President,” Roque said.
Between June and September, self-rated poverty climbed from 35 percent to 47 percent in Luzon outside Metro Manila and from 60 percent to 65 percent in Mindanao.
It declined from 43 percent to 26 percent in Metro Manila, however. It was unchanged at 67 percent in the Visayas.
“Those in Metro Manila have the means to weather adverse economic swings. Also, many of those in Metro Manila may have benefited from income tax reductions and exemptions,” Terosa said in a text message.
SWS said the median self-rated poverty threshold was P10,000, the monthly budget that a household would need for home expenses so it won’t consider itself poor.
The median gap, or the amount families lack monthly so they would not be considered poor, was placed at P5,000.
Self-rated food poverty also fell in Metro Manila from 23 percent to 21 percent. —Reports from Inquirer Research, Christine O. Avendaño and Jovic Yee
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