Over 2.3-M Filipinos pushed into poverty

Published August 15, 2022, 10:24 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

More than two million Filipinos were pushed into poverty in the last three years, which the National Economic and Development (NEDA) blamed to the effects of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and employment that brought to 19.99 million total number of poor Filipinos in the country.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Monday, Aug. 15, that poverty incidence in the country clocked in at 18.1 percent in 2021, up from 16.7 percent in 2018. This is also above the government’s target range of 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent.

According to the PSA, the poverty rate translates to 19.99 million poor Filipinos whose income was not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs. This increased from 17.67 million recorded in 2018.

In a briefing, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said 2.3 million more Filipinos between 2018 and 2021 were pushed into poverty due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including income and employment losses.

“As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our growth momentum and development trajectory. Restrictions on mobility and low earning capacity of poor households due to limited access to regular and productive jobs made the lives of Filipinos difficult,” Balisacan said.

In 2021, a Filipino family of five whose monthly income was below P12,030 was considered poor.

The subsistence incidence, which is the proportion of Filipinos whose monthly income of below P8,379 was not enough to meet even just the basic food needs, also increased to 5.9 percent in 2021.

Metro Manila posted the lowest poverty incidence in 2021 while the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao registered the highest poverty incident, PSA data showed.

Among families, around 3.5 million households or 13.2 percent were considered poor. On the other hand, the subsistence incidence among families was observed at 3.9 percent, which is equivalent to 1.04 million poor families below the food poverty line.

Before the pandemic in 2018, about six million Filipinos were already lifted out of poverty, which was four years ahead of the 2022 target.

But despite the increased in the number of poor individuals, Balisacan remains confident that the Marcos administration can bring down the country’s poverty incidence to single-digit, or nine percent, by 2028.

“We do know that we have a tough road ahead, but we are already prepared to face these challenges head-on. The overall goal of the next Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 is to reinvigorate job creation and poverty reduction,” Balisacan said.

Poverty reduction efforts will focus on full reopening of the economy; more investments in human capital, social development, and social protection; and transformation of the production sectors to generate more and quality jobs and competitive products, the NEDA chief said.