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Kidapawan beats Davao in poverty incidence rate

November 25, 2008 12:55am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Despite being Mindanao’s commercial and trade hub, Davao City only managed to land fourth in the list of cities in Southern Mindanao with the lowest poverty incidence, the latest survey of the National Statistical Coordination Board in the region covering 2006 showed.

The Poverty Statistics at the Municipal Level showed that Kidapawan City, the capital of North Cotabato, bested all cities in Mindanao with a poverty rate of only 12.46%, followed by General Santos City with 13.98%; Polomolok in South Cotabato, 14.29%; and Davao City, 14.94%. Tagum City’s 15.42%, Cagayan de Oro’s 15.5%, Koronadal’s 16.18%, and Digos’s 18.22% rounded up the top eight cities.

On the other hand, Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur was named the poorest municipality with nearly 8.5 people out of 10 mired in poverty.

This was followed by Don Marcelino and Sarangani, also in Davao del Sur, 80.25% and 78.67% poverty rates, respectively. Davao del Sur has five of the 10 poorest municipalities in the Davao region.

The other three are in Davao Oriental and one each in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.

Estrella R. Turingan, the board’s regional head, pointed to inflation as the likely cause for a drop in Davao City’s ranking even if it trumps all the other cities in terms of income.

"Probably, the consumer price indices in Davao City are higher than Kidapawan and General Santos," she said.

For instance, Ms. Turingan said Batanes recording zero poverty incidence doesn’t mean it is richer than Davao City.

"That’s because the price of food there is cheap and most people can afford them," she said.

Davao City has proposed a P3.2-billion annual budget for 2009, reflecting an increase of over 7% from this year’s budget.

In his budget message to the city council, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said Davao City is one of the top cities in terms of projected income for 2009, following only the cities of Quezon (P8.6 billion), Makati (P8.3 billion) and Manila (P5 billion).

University of Southeastern Philippines professor Edmund B. Prantilla, former regional head of the National Economic and Development Authority-Region 11, said the large area and population of Davao City makes it very difficult for people in the outlying communities to access programs of the local government.

With 2,443.61 square kilometers, Davao City is considered one of the largest cities in the world.

The 2007 population census ranks Davao City fourth among the 32 highly urbanized cities, next only to Quezon, Manila and Caloocan cities.

"Because of its large area, it’s understandable that the living conditions in Marilog and Paquibato are not comparable to the poblacion," Mr. Prantilla said, adding that Kidapawan and Polomolok have no such problems.

He, however, expects the list to contract next year because of the economic slowdown.

"If the growth rate of the economy is down, poverty incidence goes up," he said. — Joel B. Escovilla, BusinessWorld
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