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Palace: Pandemic plunged Filipinos into poverty

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The Palace on Tuesday blamed the ongoing pandemic for a recent poll which showed that nearly half of Filipinos rated themselves as poor.

Over the weekend, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released the results of its June survey which found that 48 percent of 1,200 respondents or an equivalent of 12 million Filipinos considered themselves as poor.

“We are saddened by the results of the survey, but that is because of the pandemic,” presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said in response to the survey.

The Palace official, however, took pride that the Duterte administration rolled out the country’s biggest Social Amelioration Program in history in an effort to aid the poor during large-scale lockdowns.

“Like what the President had said, the government launched P660 billion-worth of cash aid and other forms of financial assistance to the poorest Filipinos when life was difficult for all of us,” he said.

The same survey found that only 23 percent of adult respondents rated themselves as not poor. The remaining 29 percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they were “borderline poor.”

According to the SWS, the total percentage of self-rated poor families was composed of seven percent or 1.8 million Filipinos who were “newly poor” or those who were not poor one to four years ago, and 4.1 percent or 1 million individuals who were “usually poor” or those who were not poor five or more years ago.

Meanwhile, 9.1 million Filipinos or 36.2 percent said they were “always poor.”

The number of self-rated poor was highest in the Visayas where 70 percent of surveyed families rated themselves as poor, 24 percent said they were borderline poor, and 7 percent said they were not poor, the pollster said.

It was only in the Visayas where families feeling poor rose from 56 percent in May to 70 percent in June, along with a decline in borderline poverty, the SWS added.

Conducted from 23 to 26 June, the poll has a sampling error margin of ±3 percent for national percentages and ±6 percent for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

It was done as the government eyes to ease restrictions to resuscitate the pandemic-battered economy, which saw a negative growth for five consecutive quarters and the longest recession since the 1980s during martial law.

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