Hocus pocus? Groups assail gov’t findings on ‘low’ poverty rate

BULATLAT FILE PHOTO: Resident Mildred Bibera and her two-year-old daughter (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)

“Setting a high standard indicates the government having a high level of ambition for poverty eradication. Conversely, setting a low standard indicates low targets for dealing with the poverty situation.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
bulatlat.com

MANILA — Various progressive groups assailed the recently-released 2018 findings of the Philippine Statistics Authority, stating that the poverty threshold for a Filipino family of five is only P10,481 or about $200 a month.

In a statement, Kadamay president Gloria Arellano said President Rodrigo Duterte’s poverty reduction strategy is to either to kill the poor or wipe them out by magic.

On Wednesday, April 10, PSA officials announced in a media briefing that the number of poor families fell from 22.2 percent in 2015 to 16.1 last year.

This, of course, has been lauded by no less than the Malacanang.

However, independent thinktank Ibon Foundation, in a press release, said that the very low official poverty line “gives a misleading picture of the conditions of millions of poor Filipinos and hinders the country’s anti-poverty efforts.”

The group added that the estimated daily per capita poverty threshold P69.50 and daily per capita subsistence or food threshold of only P48.60 “do not meet decent minimum standards for food, shelter, transportation, utilities, health care and education.”

Such findings, Ibon added, also did not reflect the rising costs of shelter, transportation, and public utilities such as water and electricity.

“This is what they mean when they said that poverty has been reduced. Even the simplest worker and urban poor may not be considered poor given the very low poverty threshold,” Arellano said.

In its statement, Ibon said a more accurate picture of how Filipinos are faring is that at least 11 million families are getting P15,000 or less, while 13.6 million are receiving P18,000 or less.

Ibon pointed out that the choice of official poverty lines is a “political one.”

The independent thinktank said, “setting a high standard indicates the government having a high level of ambition for poverty eradication. Conversely, setting a low standard indicates low targets for dealing with the poverty situation.” (bulatlat.com)

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