New poll finds: Majority of Filipinos claim to be poor

A survey from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) concluded that there is an increase in the number of Filipino families claiming that they are poor from the 48 percent in June to 52 percent at the most recent.

More than a million Filipino families joined the ranks of the poor in the self-rated nationwide poll. The said survey conducted from September 15 to 23 indicated a significant spike from the previous 11.1 million in June as it jumped to 12.2 million families in September.

“This is the second consecutive increase in self-rated poverty in 2018. Since the 42 percent recorded in March 2018, self-rated poverty has increased by 10 points in total,” SWS said as reported by The Manila Times.

Among the 52 percent who rated themselves poor, only 8 percent were “newly poor,” meaning they did not consider themselves poor one to four years ago.

The poll revealed that 36 percent, or about 8.5 million families, considered themselves food-poor. It increased by 2 percent or about 700,000 families from 34 percent in June.

The increase indicated in the study could be attributed to the nine-year high inflation at 6.7 percent in the same month. Along with it were increase in the prices of rice and fuel and a weakening peso.

The University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics Dean Cid Terosa said that inflation and the rising cost of food propelled the rise in self-rated poverty nationwide.

The said survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,500 respondents and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Worker unions call Duterte ‘ineffective’

Labor groups attributed the said increase to President Rodrigo Duterte’s incapacity to provide a comfortable life among his constituents. They labeled the administration “ineffective” in keeping campaign promises.

There is a possibility that senatorial candidates could end up losing in the elections in May 2019 because of the government’s failure to ease poverty, according to Nagkaisa Labor Coalition spokesperson Rene Magtubo.

Federation of Free Workers vice president Julius Cainglet said that the survey results should prompt the administration to provide better wages to workers who could “no longer cope with the abnormal rise of the inflation rate.”

Alarmed over the findings

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that the Palace “understood the people’s sentiment,” noting that the survey was done last month when the inflation rate rose to 6.7 percent.

“For one, the destruction to agriculture and infrastructure caused by Typhoon ‘Ompong’ in the Cordillera, Ilocos and Cagayan regions contributed to higher inflation,” Roque said as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“This would explain why self-rated poverty in Balance Luzon [outside Metro Manila] rose to 47 percent in September,” Roque added.

Roque assured the public that measures had been implemented “to cushion the impact of inflation and bring food on the table of poor families.”

“This includes the directive of the president in the recent meeting with his Cabinet members that there will be no limits in the importation of rice to further increase our supply of rice and lower its price,” Roque said in a statement.

“No Filipino family should be hungry. That is the order and desire of the president,” Roque said.

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