SWS: Poor families rise to 11.1M
An estimated 11.1 million Filipino households considered themselves poor in March, up from 9.1 million households in December, a recent survey by Social Weather Stations found.
The results of the survey, first published in BusinessWorld, found 55 percent of respondents rating their households poor, 10 points higher than the 45 percent three months earlier.
Those who said they were poor in terms of food accounted for 45 percent, which translates to approximately 9.1 million families, a rise of nine points from the 36 percent or 7.2 million families recorded in the previous quarter.
The figures are the highest so far under the Aquino administration.
SWS used face-to-face interviews for the noncommissioned survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percentage points for area percentages.
The record for self-rated poverty was posted in July 1985 at 74 percent under the Marcos regime, while the record for self-rated food poverty was posted at 59 percent under the Ramos administration in April 1994 and in September 2002 under the Arroyo administration.
Reacting to the survey, Malacañang on Thursday said it was “natural” to see fluctuations in the levels of self-rated poverty because the government’s antipoverty programs were taking time to be significantly felt.
Programs take time
Secretary Edwin Lacierda, President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesperson, acknowledged that perceptions of poverty were among the indicators the administration was looking at.
“As we have said in the beginning, antipoverty programs take some time before the effects are felt on a sustained basis,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.
“In the meantime, it is natural to see fluctuations in self-rated poverty,” he said.
Lacierda, nonetheless, provided anecdotal evidence of the government’s conditional cash transfer program benefiting target beneficiaries.
“We have heard for instance, when we were in Roxas City… one mother showed how her child was able to buy a new school bag, new shoes. She was also able to buy vitamins for her child,” Lacierda said.
For the survey, SWS showed a card to 1,200 adults nationwide and asked them, “Where would you place your family on this card?” The choices included “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.”
Self-rated poverty climbed sharply in Mindanao (72 percent in March from 38 percent in December). It also rose in the Visayas (61 percent from 52 percent previously).
The percentages for Metro Manila (46 percent from 47 percent) and the rest of Luzon (the same at 45 percent) remained basically unchanged.
Self-rated poverty also rose among those living in the rural areas (66 percent in March from 49 percent in December), but barely changed among those in the urban areas (40 percent from 41 percent).
For self-rated food poverty, SWS asked respondents “Based on the type of food eaten by your family, where would you place your family on this card?” Respondents were made to choose from “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.”
Self-rated food poverty surged in Mindanao (64 percent in March from 30 percent in December). It also rose in the Visayas (47 percent from 43 percent) but barely changed in Metro Manila (30 percent from 31 percent) and the rest of Luzon (38 percent from 37 percent).
SWS also determined the self-rated poverty threshold of respondents who considered their households poor or food-poor by asking how much they needed monthly so as not to consider themselves poor.
The median poverty threshold rose in Metro Manila to P12,000 from P10,000, in Luzon outside Metro Manila to P10,000 from P6,000, in the Visayas to P8,000 from P6,000 and in Mindanao to P7,000 from P6,000.
The median food-poverty threshold in Metro Manila rose to P6,500 from P5,000. In Luzon outside Metro Manila, it rose to P5,000 from P4,000.
It went up to P4,500 from P3,750 in the Visayas and to P4,000 from P3,500 in Mindanao. Inquirer Research and Norman Bordadora