More than half of households claim to be poor, up from 45 percent in December
The number of Filipino households that consider themselves poor surged in the first quarter of 2012, rising to 11.1 million from 9.1 million in December 2011.
The surges in "self-poverty" were noted in Mindanao and in rural areas, according to the survey conducted by pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) last March 10 to 13.
In the survey, results of which were published in SWS’ media partner BusinessWorld, 55 percent of respondents, or the equivalent to some 11.1 million families, claimed to be mahirap (poor), 10 points higher than December’s 45 percent or 9.1 million households.
Also, the survey showed 45 percent or some 9.1 million families consider themselves poor in terms of food, nine points up from the 36 percent or an estimated 7.2 million in the previous quarter.
SWS noted these new levels of self-rated poverty are the highest so far under the Aquino administration, which has pledged to reduce poverty.
However, the figures are still below the record high of 74 percent for self-rated poverty in July 1985 during the Marcos administration.
They were also below the 59 percent self-rated food poverty first recorded in April 1994 during the Ramos administration and repeated in September 2002 under the Arroyo administration.
Sharp increase in Mindanao
The survey showed poverty scores were basically the same in Metro Manila (46 percent from 47 percent previously) and Balance Luzon or Luzon excluding Metro Manila (unchanged at 45 percent), but climbed nine points to 61 percent in the Visayas.
The SWS noted a sharp increase – 34 points – in Mindanao to 72 percent, the highest in eight years, or since November 2003’s 77 percent.
Self-rated poverty also barely changed among urban dwellers at 40 percent from 41 percent. But among their rural counterparts, those declaring themselves poor went up 17 points to 66 percent.
A similar pattern was seen in terms of self-rated poverty: hardly changed in Metro Manila (30 percent from 31 percent) and Balance Luzon (38 percent from 37 percent), up slightly in the Visayas (47 percent from 43 percent) and surged in Mindanao (64 percent from 30 percent previously).
The self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget that poor households need so as not to consider themselves poor in general, remained sluggish despite inflation, which the SWS said was an indication of belt tightening.
The SWS said the median poverty threshold for poor households rose to P10,000 in Balance Luzon; P12,000 in Metro Manila; P8,000 in the Visayas and P7,000 in Mindanao.
On the other hand, the median food-poverty threshold for poor households rose to P6,500 in Metro Manila, P5,000 in Balance Luzon, P4,500 in the Visayas and P4,000 in Mindanao.
SWS said the latest thresholds have already been surpassed in the past for all areas.
The SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. Sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey. — LBG/HS, GMA News
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