RP on ‘poverty red alert’

Ellalyn B. De Vera

Poverty should be treated as an emergency that needs immediate action, an alliance of anti-poverty organization said yesterday, reminding the government of an alarming poverty incidence of about 3.97 million Filipino families.

Of the total 79 provinces in the country, 42 are with poverty incidence above 30.4 percent and are mostly concentrated in Southern Luzon, Eastern and Central Visayas, and Western Mindanao.

The poverty map presented by Isagani Serrano of the Social Watch Philippines (SWP) which was based on the 2005 Philippine Human Development Report showed that Sulu has the highest poverty incidence rate of 88.8 percent, followed by Tawi-tawi (69.9), Basilan (65.6), Zamboanga del Norte (63.2), Masbate (60.8), Maguindanao (55.8), Romblon (52.1), Siquijor (51.9), Palawan (50.5), and Marinduque (49.1).

Poverty incidence is measured using the proportion of families/individuals with income below the poverty threshold against the total number of families/individuals.

Serrano explained that the annual poverty threshold in 2003 reached R12,267 per person, which means that an individual must earn at least R33.60 daily to meet his or her basic food and non-food needs.

The R33.60 daily income in the country is lower than the per day international standard for a minimum threshold set by the United Nations.

Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) national coordinator Marivic Raquiza cited the Ultra stampede as a symbol of the magnitude of poverty problem and hopelessness particularly among the women who bear the brunt of poverty.

In another report, GCAP showed that the average income for a Filipino family declined by 10 percent, from R175,000 to R144,000 in 2001 to 2003.

In June 2005, the national average minimum income wage for a family of six was R222.93 instead of the national average daily cost of living of R666.70.

"The level of hunger and malnutrition is now comparable to that of Sub-Saharan Africa not because we are poor but because of the (societal) inequality in the Philippines, where more poor become poorer and more rich become richer," Raquiza stressed.

Serrano said that the country is in a false sense of stability, which beneath that underlies the poverty situation.

Further, in response to poverty report, GCAP asked the government to create social safety net programs that would benefit the poorest people in the poorest provinces or cities, such as food subsidy and public workfare programs.

"Know the real situation, admit that we are on a state of calamity, (and) that we are on a poverty red alert. That is the requisite," Raquiza explained to what the government must put into action.

RP on ‘poverty red alert’
Manila Bulletin

February 14, 2006