[PHOTO AT LEFT - Almost 26 million poor in the Philippines according to the Asian Development Bank. Courtesy of asianews.it]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 (STAR) By Helen Flores - The number of Filipino families who consider themselves poor rose by over a million to roughly half of the population in the second quarter of the year, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed yesterday.

The SWS survey, conducted from June 25 to 28, found 50 percent of respondents or about 9.4 million families who rated themselves as “mahirap” or poor, up by seven points from 43 percent or an estimated 8.1 million families in March.

Results of the survey, published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday, also showed that families who rated themselves as “food-poor” went up from a record low of 31 percent (5.9 million) in March to 38 percent (7.2 million) in June despite robust economic growth.

“We asked them to choose between two cards: poor or not poor. We did not ask them why they feel poor,” said Leo Larosa, a researcher at polling firm said.

This came despite government figures showing that the Philippines recorded a 7.9 percent economic growth rate in the first half of 2010, its best half-year growth record in more than 20 years.

The figures were significantly higher than the government’s latest poverty study in 2006 showing that 32.9 percent of the population or 27.6 million Filipinos were considered poor.

But an economic official said the two sets of data were not comparable as the survey showed people’s perception while the government figures were based on income and cost of essential goods.

Those surveyed “are comparing their situations. It may be they feel poorer even if they have enough income,” said government assistant economic planning director Myrna Asuncion.

SWS said Mindanao recorded the highest increase in self-rated poverty and food poverty, from 39 percent to 56 percent and from 32 percent to 48 percent, respectively.

Self-rated poverty rose from 38 percent to 48 percent in Metro Manila, while in the Visayas it jumped from 52 percent to 58 percent.

In balance Luzon, it barely changed from 43 percent in March to 44 percent in June.

SWS said self-rated poverty also rose by 13 points in areas from 45 percent in March to 58 percent in June.

It also went up by three points in urban areas from 41 percent to 44 percent.

The number of families who consider themselves food-poor increased in Metro Manila from 28 percent to 35 percent, in the Visayas 39 percent to 45 percent, and in balance Luzon from 29 percent to 31 percent.

The survey showed 34.5 percent of food-poor families claimed they experienced hunger. This was at 14.2 percent among the not food-poor and 12 percent in the food borderline categories.

It said hunger incidence was 27.6 percent among poor households, 20.3 percent among the not poor and 11.3 percent among families on the borderline.

Those who experienced Severe Hunger – not having anything to eat often or always in the last three months – was at 8.8 percent among the food poor, 1.5 percent among the not food poor and 1.2 percent among those on the food borderline.

Severe hunger was at 5.9 percent among poor households, 3.9 percent among the not poor and 1.6 percent among those on the borderline.


RP has moderate chances of halving poverty 09/05/2010 | 04:17 PM

The Philippines has moderate chances of halving the number of its poor citizens by 2015 — one of eight targets it vowed to fulfill under its United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — although it could still meet other targets, including reducing the number of Filipinos whose income cannot provide the basic food requirements.

The country, whose economic growth for the second quarter outpaced Indonesia and Vietnam, also continues to "lag in achieving universal primary education, improving maternal health, and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDs," the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement Saturday.

The likelihood of reducing the total number of poor people to 22.65 percent of the population — as indicated in the Philippines' MDG targets — is "medium," NEDA said, citing data from the country's MDG report to be launched next Wednesday.

Latest data on Philippine poverty show that nearly 33 percent of the population are unable to fulfill basic food, clothing, and shelter requirements, according to a 2006 National Statistical Coordination Board report.

In June, a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said that Filipino families who "often" or "always" had nothing to eat during the past three months rose to 4.2 percent (780,000 families) in June from 2.8 percent (530,000 families) in March.

However, the Philippines still has "a high probability of meeting most of the [MDG] targets, including reducing the number of Filipinos below subsistence threshold, or those whose income cannot provide the basic food requirements," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr.

"From 24.3 percent in 1991, the percentage of Filipinos living below subsistence threshold was reduced to 14.6 percent in 2006, which is near the 2015 target of 12.15 percent," the NEDA chief said, citing official data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

The country also has high probabilities of meeting the targets on reducing child mortality, promoting gender equality and empowerment of women, particularly on eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, reversing the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis, and providing access to sanitary toilet facilities, the NEDA said.

In a phone interview, Paderanga also told GMANews.TV that the "fastest way to solve poverty" is for the Philippines to post "high and sustained economic growth."

The Philippines, whose economy expanded by 7.9 percent in the second quarter, is currently looking to invest in infrastructure to help promote tourism and agro-industrial sectors, Paderanga said.

Building more farm to market roads, piers, airports, and warehouses "will spur tourism and help increase agricultural productivity," Paderanga added.

Beneficial effects of promoting these two industries not only include job generation but also curbing rebellion in the countryside, he said.

The government is also providing financial packages — called conditional cash transfers — for targeted communities that will ensure that poor kids stay in school.

"The next generation of Filipinos should be flexible enough to feel comfortable in a globalized economy without any feeling of uncertainty," Paderanga said.

The Philippines' Fourth Progress Report on the MDGs will be launched on Wednesday, presenting a comprehensive tracking of the country’s performance towards attaining the MDGs.

The launch will be attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III, the keynote speaker.

The report also contains recommended strategies for attaining the MDGs for the next five years, covering concerns such as financing, monitoring, localization, and advocacy.

The last MDG progress report in the Philippines was released in 2007, while the first two reports were published in 2003 and 2005.

The fourth progress report will then be presented to the UN High-Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs in New York this month. —Robert JA Basilio Jr./JE, GMANews.TV

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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