Self-rated poverty steady, declining for 9 consecutive quarters - SWS
MANILA - (UPDATED) The number of Filipinos who consider themselves as poor fell to an annual average of 44 percent in 2016, the lowest since 1987, according to a Social Weather Stations survey released Monday.
The 4th Quarter 2016 SWS survey showed that 44 percent of 1,500 respondents consider their families "poor" when they were polled between December 3 and 4.
SWS noted that December's self-rated poverty reading was reflected by "46% [of respondents] in April 2016, 45% in June 2016, 42% in September 2016."
Together, the 2016 quarterly poverty readings yield an annualized average of 44 percent, six points below 2015’s average and, SWS noted, "a new record-low annual average that surpassed the previous record low of 47% in 1987."
The SWS said self-rated poverty "has been either steady or declining for nine consecutive quarters -- from 52% in December 2014 to 51% in March... and June 2015, 50% in September... and December 2015, 46% in April 2016, 45% in June 2016, 42% in September 2016, and 44% in December 2016."
The pollster also found that in the last quarter of 2016, self-rated poverty was highest in the Visayas at 56 percent and lowest at Metro Manila at 31 percent, five points down from the previous quarter's 36 percent.
Last quarter also saw a two-point drop in Mindanao, from 49 percent to 47 percent, that was matched by an eight-point increase in "Balance Luzon" from 34 percent to 42 percent.
The fourth quarter reading also showed that only 32 percent of those polled rate themselves as "food-poor."
December's food poverty rate is also a new record-low average surpassing the previous record-low 35 percent tallied in 2015, SWS said.
Meanwhile, the median self-rated poverty threshold -- the monthly budget families need in order not to be called "food-poor" -- was placed at P18,000 in Metro Manila, and P10,000 in Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
'CHANGE BEING FELT'
Roughly a quarter of the country's 100 million people are poor, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. As of the first half of 2015, 26.3 percent of Filipinos live below the poverty line.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, has promised to uplift the poor by spreading development to the countryside, increasing spending on agriculture and lowering income tax rates.
Malacañang attributed the record-breaking poverty readings to the public's confidence in Duterte's vow to bring about societal change.
"Change has indeed come, and it is being felt by our people," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a text message.
Andanar also pointed out that the rise in self-rated poverty in Balance Luzon may be attributed to the destructive typhoons that ravaged the area before the year-end.
"Typhoon Karen damaged thousands of hectares of agricultural lands in Ilocos, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol. Typhoon Lawin likewise damaged houses and crops and displaced thousands in the northern part of Luzon," he said.
The Department of Agriculture, Andanar said, has been providing assistance to farmers affected by Lawin and Karen.
The SWS survey was first published by BusinessWorld, and has sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, ±4 for Balance Luzon, as well as ±6 points each for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.