The number of poor families as of end-June 2021 increased compared to what was recorded in the same period three years ago, latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said poverty incidence among the population, whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs–was estimated at 23.7 percent in the first semester 2021 from just 21.1 percent in the first semester of 2018.
According to him, the latest figure translates to 26.14 million Filipinos who live below the poverty threshold–which was estimated at P12,082 on the average for a family of five per month.
Still, the PSA chief said the latest development was the first increase in poverty incidence since the agency began tabulating data for such in 2012.
Likewise, Mapa said this could be attributed to the higher increase in the cost of prices or inflation during the three-year gap, surpassing the incline in the income of Filipino families, which was drastically affected by the current pandemic.
Subsistence incidence or the number of Filipinos whose income is insufficient to meet even the basic food needs grew to 9.9 percent or about 10.94 million Filipinos in the first six months of 2021 from just 8.5 percent in 2018.
“On the average, the monthly food threshold for a family of five for the same period was estimated at P8,393,” the PSA said.
“Among families, the first semester 2021 poverty incidence was estimated at 18 percent, which is equivalent to around 4.74 million poor families,” it added.
On the other hand, subsistence incidence among families was recorded at 7.1 percent or about 1.87 million food poor families in the first semester of the year, the agency said.
Better figures ahead
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said poverty incidence for the whole year should be better given the disparity in data for such–with the second half poverty incidence expected to sit at a better position.
Citing the observed trend in poverty data, income in the second half of the year is usually bigger than the first half hence, the expectation of better poverty numbers in the second semester.
“There is a big difference typically (in) the first half and the second half. So we will have to wait for the full year to determine, but so far we are sticking to this (15.5 to 17.5 percent) target,” he said.
According to him, the set target of reducing poverty by 6 million Filipinos by 2022 was already achieved in 2018 but with the health crisis, the poor increased by 3.9 million.
“So we have to work hard to bring them out of poverty before the term ends and we are hoping that our second half of the year–where we see better growth and employment prospects will help us achieve that or at least minimize the impact on the poor,” he quickly added.
The Cabinet official then cited some recommendations to bring more Filipinos out of poverty, which include a more inclusive economy through the acceleration of the national ID system among others.