Colmenares, Gutoc: Decline in poverty incidence ‘unrealistic’
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares on Thursday vowed to push for a law that would redefine poverty in a “truthful and realistic manner,” after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that poverty incidence declined by 6.6 percent in the first half of 2018 from the same period in 2015.
For 2018, the PSA pegged the monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P10,481, with food expenses accounting for P7,337. This means families earning and consuming more than that are not considered poor.
But Colmenares said it was no wonder that the government insists that poverty affected only a minority – this time 21 percent of the population – given the low poverty threshold.
“This has led to complacency and a very inadequate and tokenistic approach to poverty alleviation which should be the government’s main thrust,” the Bayan Muna chair added.
The threshold translates to P338 per day to cover food, housing, clothing, health care, education, transportation, utilities and other expenses for a family of five, the former lawmaker pointed out.
“Maybe a figure somewhere around P15,000 for a family of five would be a more realistic poverty threshold. Congress should come up with legislation setting a better standard so that the PSA does not end up as a window dressing agency and fodder for government propaganda,” Colmenares suggested.
‘Better, credible research needed’
Another opposition senatorial candidate, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, slammed the data as “unbelievable,” stressing that the agency should come up with “better, credible research” in making its reports.
Gutoc also pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte issued in March Executive Order 77 which pegged the Daily Travel Expenses of those in government from P1,500 to P2,200 a day, 30 percent of which is for meals.
“Kung si Presidente Duterte nga, he found it necessary to update the outdated travel allowance rates of government employees. Under what standards did the PSA come up with the figures in their report?” the senatorial contender said.
“The PSA needs to come up with better, credible figures for its reports. It should be closer to realities. Sometimes, those in government use their figures to keep tabs on the prices of goods, decide on wage increases and many more,” Gutoc added. /cbb
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