MANILA, OCTOBER 15, 2003  (STAR) While politicians start to rev up their campaign polemics, the proportion of families reporting they had experienced hunger in the last three months fell to only 5.1 percent in September, according to the latest uncommissioned Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

But while virtually 95 percent of respondents at least had something to eat in the third quarter, 62 percent of household heads rated their families as mahirap (poor), compared to 53 percent in the second quarter.

The net personal optimism rating of +8 (percentage of optimists minus percentage of pessimists) remained virtually unchanged from the last quarter — still way below the +24 posted in the first few months of the Arroyo administration but much better than the -5 optimism rating in March.

However, SWS said in a statement the national hunger rating of 5.1 percent is a new record low since the independent pollster started conducting the only quarterly survey on hunger in July 1998.

The previous lowest hunger rating was 6.5 percent in October 1999 while the record peak was registered at 16. 1 percent in March 2001, SWS reported.

SWS said the survey was conducted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14 and made use of face-to-face interviews of a national sample of 1,200 households from 240 geographical spots selected from all regions.

Error margins are ±3 percent for national percentages and ±6 percent for regional percentages. Self-Rated Poverty At 62%

SWS said "the last quarter’s rise in self-rated poverty coincides with a decline in the public’s net satisfaction with the national administration’s performance in helping the poor to -4 in September, from +27 last June."

Among poor households all over the country, the September survey showed, the home expense budget need in order not to feel poor is a modest P8,000 per month.

In Metro Manila, this expense budget, or the median poverty threshold, was posted at P14,000, P8,000 in other parts of Luzon, P5,000 in the Visayas and P5,000 in Mindanao. Nation Still Demoralized

The survey also revealed that while half of respondents felt that the prevailing quality of life will remain the same in the next 12 months, a growing number of respondents said things will get worse.

SWS said 29 percent said they believe that their quality of life will be better (optimists) while 21 expect it would get worse (pessimists).

SWS said the net optimism rating (optimists minus pessimists) of +8 was basically unchanged from the June net optimism rating of +12.

But the historical comparison showed that the September rating of +8 was way below the +24 posted in the first month of the Arroyo administration in February 2001.

In March, the net optimism rating was at -5, the lowest rating during the Arroyo administration.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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