By: Roy Bersales
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) are using “poverty incidence” in measuring poverty problem in the country.
This instrument does not cover the various faces, or elements, of poverty, Sec. Liza Maza, head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).
Maza said the “poverty incidence” covers only the “income poverty” and does not include other factors that make Filipinos poor.
She cited the data produced by the PSA in last year’s poverty situation in the country.
PSA data showed that the poverty incidence in the country for the first semester of 2015 was 26.3 percent.
For the whole 2015, PSA said the poverty incidence declined to 21.6 percent.
NEDA said the figure gave the Duterte administration a benchmark to reach its target to further reduce poverty problem in the country.
Maza said “The full-year figure of 21.6 percent differs from the first semester figure by 4.7 percentage points, which is unprecedented [because the] full-year poverty incidence numbers are generally lower than first semester estimates as incomes are usually higher in the second semester, but never to such a degree as in 2015.”
Maza said the truth of the matter is that the decline of poverty incidence projected by the PSA and boasted by NEDA was largely happened in the second semester of 2015, a period just before the 2016 national election when the past administration pushed hard to elect Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas.
“It is possible that the decline was largely due to a massive influx of cash to the poor through the conditional cash transfer program, bottom-up budgeting projects, a hiring spree of street sweepers and similar temp jobs, and general election-related spending in an all-out effort by the past administration to elect Roxas,” Maza said.
Therefore, Maza said “the decline is probably artificial, and does not reflect any real change in the situation of the poor.”
The former lawmaker also assailed PSA data of supposed “significant decline in poverty incidence from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2015… reported… by the Philippine Statistics Authority was probably artificial” due to poverty incidence measurement of poverty.
Maza strongly argued that the government must adopt and use “a more comprehensive measure that reflects the multidimensional nature of poverty, in place of the poverty incidence number that captures only income poverty.”
She pointed out that measuring poverty should include lack of education, poor health, inadequate living conditions, poor quality of work, and disempowerment into our poverty measure, aside from the low income.
“This way, we can address poverty in a holistic manner,” Maza averred.