By: Marites Badilla
THERE is no truth on the assertion of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) that the Philippine poverty incidence has significantly gone down last year, according to an independent research group.
In a statement, Ibon Foundation said the poverty incidence of 21.6% with a magnitude of 22 million poor in 2015 that NEDA has asserted was highly questionable because the data it used came from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that “use[d] a very low poverty threshold of just Php60 per person per day.”
PSA findings “only reflects the situation of Filipinos in extreme poverty,” Ibon argued.
Thus, NEDA should have not disclosed a wrong information on poverty reduction for using a grossly figure of money being spent per day.
A P60 budget per day is P10 higher than the P50 per day allowance being given by the government to of each prisoner in the country.
Reynaldo Cancio, director for national policy and planning of NEDA earlier told the media that “[t]he decline in [the country’s] poverty [incidence] has been more pronounced in recent years. [PSA] data showed that there are about 1.4 million less poor Filipinos in 2015 than in 2009.”
Cancio pointed out that the reduction of poverty would give the Duterte administration to further reduce poverty in the country.
Ibon said NEDA should have not boasted the PSA’s computation of poverty incidence because the PSA had actually used a “methodology [that] grossly underreports real poverty in the country, because it use[d] a conservative food threshold and an outdated and mechanical estimation of non-food expenses.”
The research group noted that the supposed improved 2015 poverty results were based on the cash support given to reportedly 4.6 million beneficiary households through the Aquino administration’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), or the conditional cash transfer (CCT).
The program started during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidency and was continued by the Aquino administration.
The 4Ps remains enforced since President Rodrigo Duterte is convinced that it really addresses the country’s poverty problem.
The 4Ps is being supervised by the Department of social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) data showed that the Aquino administration spent a total of P295 Billion from 2011 to 2016 period.
In 2015 alone, the previous administration released P64.7 Billion for the 4Ps, DBM data further disclosed.
Ibon said “[t]he very slight improvement due to CCTs for Filipinos in extreme poverty should not be taken as an indication of Philippine development” since it did not really improve the poor living conditions of the 4.6 million 4Ps beneficiaries.
What really happened with the beneficiaries was that they got money from the government that each family of the 4.6 million was able to use in buying basic needs.
Ibon averred that widespread poverty in the Philippines will never end because the country’s “structural poverty from economic backwardness remain[s].”
The Aquino administration failed to address massive unemployment and underemployment despite of strong economy with high gross domestic product due to the strong presence of the social structure that maintains and strengthens the economic backwardness of the country,
After more than 100 days in power, the Duterte administration has yet to produce a clear, doable, and effective anti-poverty program.