With 20 million poor Pinoys, 9% poverty goal stays

DESPITE rising commodity prices and the continuing threat posed by the pandemic, the current administration remains confident that it can achieve its overall target of a 9-percent poverty incidence by 2028.

On Monday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) disclosed that there were 19.99 million Filipinos who were considered poor. This translated to a poverty incidence rate of 18.1 percent.

In a briefing, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the government will endeavor to pare down the poverty incidence in 2021 by 5 percentage points by 2025 and another 4 percentage points by 2028.

“We can reduce poverty incidence by 5 percentage points at midterm, and another 4 percentage points by 2028. We aim to reduce poverty incidence among Filipinos to 9 percent by 2028,” Balisacan said.

“This Covid-19 pandemic may have disrupted our growth momentum but we are determined. We remain committed to deliver adequate, prudent and timely policies to achieve our collective aspiration where no Filipino is poor,” he explained.

Balisacan said in order to achieve this target, the government will use the 2021 poverty data as the administration’s baseline as it pushes to undo the damage inflicted by the pandemic on the Philippine economy.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) chief said its efforts to achieve the target include resuming face-to-face classes and greater vaccine access for children and adults.

“We will continue to provide guidance on minimum public health standards and health risk assessments. We urge all schools to come up with innovative solutions to make studying in school as safe as possible,” Balisacan added.

On top of these efforts, Balisacan said the government will provide training opportunities for Filipinos to improve their chances of securing quality employment.

The country’s Chief Economist also said the government aims to reduce the cost of doing business in the country and provide greater support for research and development as well as innovation.

Balisacan also said the government will enhance inter-industry linkages and be more aggressive in promoting the country as a key investment destination in the region.

Poverty data

Meanwhile, the proportion of Filipino families with incomes that are not sufficient to buy their minimum basic food and non-food needs or the poverty incidence among families in 2021 was estimated at 13.2 percent.

At the regional level, the regions with the lowest poverty incidence among families in 2021 were National Capital Region (NCR), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region III, and Region IV-A.

On the other hand, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) consistently figured with the highest poverty incidence among families at 29.8 percent in 2021.

Moreover, more than half of the regions posted significant changes in their incidences from 2018 to 2021. The regions with significant increases were NCR, MIMAROPA, and Regions I, III, IV-A, VI, VII, and X.

On the other hand, significant decreases were observed in CAR, Region XI, and ARMM/BARMM.

At the provincial level, the provinces which belonged to the group with the least poverty incidence among families in 2015, 2018 and 2021 were: Bataan, Batanes, Benguet, Bulacan, Capiz, Cavite, Guimaras, Ilocos Norte, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal. The provinces of La Union, Siquijor, and Tarlac were included in the least poor cluster since 2018.

Also joining this least poor cluster in 2021 were: Apayao, Batangas, Cagayan, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Ifugao, Kalinga, Lanao del Sur, Palawan, and Quirino.

In general, poverty incidence in highly urbanized cities (HUCs) was relatively lower compared to many provinces in the country.

In HUCs within NCR, these cities posted significant increases in their poverty incidence among families from 2018 to 2021: Cities of Malabon, Valenzuela, Las Piñas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Parañaque and Taguig.

For HUCs outside NCR, the Cities of Lapu-Lapu, Butuan, and Mandaue registered the highest significant increase, while Zamboanga City was the only HUC with significant decrease from 6.5 percent in 2018 to 3.3 percent in 2021.

PSA poverty data is derived from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES). The survey for 2021 was conducted between 08 – 31 July 2021 and 10 – 31 January 2022.

A total of 165,029 families were included in the FIES. The PSA also said about 7,000 data enumerators were employed to collect data nationwide.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes