By Ellson Quismorio
A militant lawmaker believes that the Duterte administration is using the supposed dip in poverty incidence in the country as an argument not to increase workers’ wages and pension.
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate is actually questioning the truthfulness of the official figures, which says that poverty incidence in the Philippines has declined by six percent since 2015.
According to the Makabayan Bloc member, the numbers released by the government “[makes] it appear that minimum wage workers and pensioners are not poor and therefore increasing their incomes is not urgent.”
”A more realistic poverty threshold is needed so that our anti-poverty projects and programs can cover families that don’t earn enough to adequately cover their basic needs,” said Zarate, who is based in Davao City.
“It is needed so that government can give a more accurate picture of poverty and thus come up with better measures to help the poor,” he stressed.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) pegs the monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P10,481, with food expenses accounting for P7,337. This means families earning and consuming more than that are not considered poor, at least according to the government.
Bayan Muna Chairman and Makabayan senatorial candidate slammed this assessment.
“With such a low poverty threshold, no wonder the government always insists that poverty affects only a minority, this time 21 percent, of our population. This has led to complacency and a very inadequate and tokenistic approach to poverty alleviation which should be the government’s main thrust,” said Colmenares.
“Maybe a figure somewhere around P15,000 for a family of five would be a more realistic poverty threshold,” he added.
As such, Colmenares vowed to push for legislation “that defines poverty in a truthful and realistic manner, so that we can also solve the problem adequately and effectively.”
“Congress should come up with legislation setting a better standard so that the PSA does not end up as a window dressing agency and fodder for government propaganda,” he said.