MANILA (UPDATED) - The percentage of Filipinos believing they are poor increased to half the population, the latest Social Weather Stations survey said.
The 1st Quarter 2017 SWS survey showed that 50 percent of 1,200 respondents in the pollster's first quarter survey considered themselves 'mahirap' or poor. The survey was conducted from March 25 to 28.
This demographic represents 11.5 million families, according to Business World, which first published the survey.
The latest figure is higher than the 44 percent (10 million families) recorded in December 2016, which was the lowest in almost three decades.
SWS said prior to this rise, the self-rated poverty reading "had been either steady or declining for nine consecutive quarters from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016."
Self-rated poverty jumped across all geographical areas, but was most seen in Balance Luzon, which saw an 8 percentage point increase to 50 percent.
Coming in second was Mindanao, which saw a 6 percentage point increase to 53 percent.
Visayas, which edged up only by a point, recorded the highest self-rated poverty among other locations at 57 percent.
The latest survey also found 35 percent or 8.1 million families rate their food as "poor."
This is also an increase from the 34 percent or 7.7 million families recorded in December 2016.
The SWS noted that self-rated food-poverty had been "either steady or declining from the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016."
The 1-point increment reflects the 9-point increase in Balance Luzon (41 percent) which was offset by the decreases in the readings in Visayas (10 points down, 33 percent), Metro Manila (3 points down, 20 percent), and Mindanao (two points down, 35 percent.)
The SWS survey also pegged the median poverty threshold, the monthly home expense budget "that would satisfy the poorer half of poor households," at P20,000 for Metro Manila and P10,000 for Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
It also said median food poverty threshold--which refers to the monthly food budget that would satisfy the poorer half of the food-poor households--is P9,000 in Metro Manila and P5,000 each in Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
The survey has sampling error margins of +/-3 points for national percentages and +/- 6% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
PALACE: INTENSIFY RESPONSE VS POVERTY
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government needs to "intensify its response in addressing the problem of poverty, with the help of business, civil society and other vital stakeholders."
He said the government has various programs to address poverty, such as higher pension for seniors, free medicine for indigents, added incentive and combat duty pay for police and soldiers, gratuity pay to job order and contract workers in the government, and regularization of tens of thousands of employees.
"To generate livelihood opportunities for our people, the Duterte administration gives certificates of land ownership awards to farmer-beneficiaries, turns over farm machinery and equipment to farmers and distributes fishing boats to fishermen, accelerates higher infrastructure spending, and promotes easy access microfinancing system, among others," he said.
"While circumstances are quickly improving, people need to know what is available 'out there.'"