Up from 10.3 million households in April poll
Nearly half of Filipino families felt poor in the last months of the Duterte administration, the latest Social Weather Survey (SWS) survey showed.
The survey, conducted from June 26 to 29—the last week of the Duterte administration—showed that 48 percent of Filipino families rated themselves as poor, up from 43 percent in a similar poll conducted in April.
SWS said the June figure translated to about 12.2 million families, up from 10.3 million in April.
The survey company said the five-point increase in the nationwide self-rated poor was due to increases in the Visayas (from 48 percent to 64 percent) and Metro Manila (from 32 percent to 41 percent). Self-rated poverty was also up, though only slightly, in Mindanao (from 60 percent to 62 percent) and the balance of Luzon (35 percent to 36 percent).
The survey was done through face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults aged 18 and above sampled nationwide.
During the same survey period, 34 percent of families considered themselves as “food-poor,” 40 percent rating themselves as “borderline food-poor,” and 26 percent as “not food-poor.”
Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved the release of P4.1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help 4 million poor Filipinos cope with the impact of rising prices.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said this was the second tranche of the government’s TCT (targeted cash transfer) program, aimed at helping poor Filipinos cope with rising inflation.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the release of the subsidies would cushion the impact of rising prices on the most vulnerable families.
“The timely release of the fund is crucial in the government’s efforts to help the poor cope with the continuous rise in commodity prices due to external shocks and other factors,” Balisacan said.
He said the cash transfer program is an important intervention to protect the purchasing power of the poor, which is among the priorities of the Marcos administration’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda.
NEDA is tasked to flesh out the eight-point agenda in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, which NEDA committed to deliver by the end of the year.
“Our near-term goal as envisioned in our 8-point Agenda is to safeguard Filipinos against the most pressing issues today, which are rising inflation and the lingering socioeconomic scarring caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The P4.1-billion budget allotment is part of the second tranche requirements for implementing the TCT Program. It will benefit over 4 million beneficiaries, who mostly belong to the poorest 50 percent of the country’s population.
Under the guidelines of the TCT Program, the DSWD will facilitate the distribution of cash grants amounting to P3,000, or P500 per month for six months.
The rate of inflation in June 2022 stood at 6.1 percent, bringing the first-half average to 4.4 percent, which is over the target range of 2 to 4 percent for the year.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said last week inflation in July likely accelerated to as high as 6.4 percent, on higher prices of food, transport fares and a weaker peso.
The government said it sees a more urgent need to focus on poverty reduction efforts following the results of the latest SWS survey.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles cited the promise of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25 to bring down the poverty rate to 9 percent by 2028.
Cruz-Angeles said the SWS survey results will push the government to work harder to lift more Filipinos out of poverty.
She added that Marcos, who is also concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture, will see to it that efforts to push for agricultural and economic development will lead to higher job creation and growth.