12.2 million Filipino families consider themselves poor — survey

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The number of Filipinos who think they are poor hit the highest rate since December 2014. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 10) — More Filipinos think they are poor, amounting to the highest number since the President took office in 2016, according to the latest national survey.

Social Weather Stations survey results in September showed 52 percent or roughly 12.2 million Filipino families classify themselves as poor. This is four points higher than the 48 percent rate or 11.1 million families from June 2018 and the highest since December 2014.

In the survey, respondents said they need a monthly budget of at least P10,000 to consider themselves as "non-poor."

President Rodrigo Duterte began his term on 2016 with a record-low self-rated poverty average of 44 percent (10 million). The lowest recorded self-poverty rate was in October 2016 with 42 percent (9.4 million). The last highest in his term was at 50 percent (11.5 million) in March 2017.

The results also showed that some families are "newly-poor". This refers to respondents that did not classify themselves as poor one to four years ago. SWS saw an eight percent increase in newly-poor families while the remaining respondents have always considered themselves as poor.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque attributed the survey results to inflation which hit a nine-year high in September and the destruction brought by typhoon Ompong.

"Nauunawaan namin ang sentimyento ng ating mga kababayan.  Sa buwan ng Setyembre kung kailan isinagawa ang survey, ang inflation ay pumalo sa 6.7%, ayon sa Philippine Statistics Authority," he said.

[Translation: We understand the sentiments of the people. In the month of September when the survey was conducted, inflation rose to 6.7% sa Philippine Statistics Authority.]

"The destruction to agriculture and infrastructure caused by Typhoon Ompong in the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan regions contributed to higher inflation," he explained.

He maintained that the government has already undertaken measures to curb inflation. He cited the recent directive of the President to liberalize rice importation.

"Walang pamilyang Pilipino ang dapat magutom.  Iyan ang atas at hangarin ng Pangulo," he said.

[Translation: No Filipino family should go hungry. That is the directive and the desire of the President.]

"Kasama na rito ang direktiba ng Pangulo sa kanyang huling pagpupulong sa mga miyembro ng kanyang gabinete na walang limitasyon sa pag-aangkat ng bigas para palakasin ang suplay ng bigas at mapababa ang presyo nito," Roque added.

[Translation: This includes the President's directive in his last Cabinet meeting that there would be no limitation to the importation of rice to increase supply and lower prices.]

SWS attributed the increase in self-rated poverty rates to Balance Luzon (regions in Luzon outside of Metro Manila), whose rate rose from 35 percent in June to 47 percent in September. This is a 12-point spike and the highest since September 2017.

Self-poverty rates also rose in Mindanao by five points, from 60 percent in June to 65 percent in September, the highest since September 2015.

Meanwhile, less people in Metro Manila consider themselves poor. The rates declined in Metro Manila by 17 points, hitting a new record-low. From 43 percent in June to 26 percent in September, it is the lowest since its record of 28 percent in December 2000, June 2017 and December 2017.

The survey also measured the respondents' self-rated food poverty, which showed if Filipinos consider their food as poor. The results showed a two-point increase nationwide, from 34 percent (7.8 million)  in June to 36 percent (8.5 million) in September.

Respondents said they need a monthly food budget of at least P5,000 to call themselves non-food poor.

The survey was conducted on September 15 to 23 among 1,500 adults through face-to-face interviews. It has a sampling margin of error of ±3% for national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.