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Number of poor PH families up

More Filipino families considered themselves poor in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Station released yesterday.

The survey conducted last March 25 to 28 found out that 50 percent of the 1,500 respondents or an estimated 11.5 million families considered themselves “mahirap” or poor, up six points from 44 percent or about 10 million families in December 2016.

SWS said that self-rated poverty had been steady for nine consecutive quarters, from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016, until it went up to 50 percent this quarter.

The survey also found out that “food poor” families grew to 8.1 million, or 35 percent, in March, up one point from 34 percent or 7.7 million families last December.

“Self-rated food-poverty had been either steady or declining from the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016,” the SWS noted.

SWS attributed the surge of self-rated poverty this quarter to the increase of those who considered themselves poor across all regions of the country.

Self-poverty ratings increased mostly in Balance Luzon from 42 percent last December to 50 percent this quarter.

Mindanao followed with 53 percent (from 47 percent), Metro Manila with 36 percent (from 31 percent), and Visayas with 57 percent (from 56 percent).

Self-rated food poverty was highest in Balance Luzon at 41 percent, followed by Mindanao at 35 percent, the Visayas at 33 percent, and Metro Manila at 20 percent.

This quarter’s median poverty threshold – the monthly budget families need in order not to be called “poor” – was placed at P20,000 in Metro Manila and P10,000 each in Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The government has vowed to boost the implementation of poverty alleviation programs following the survey.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government has taken “pro-poor and inclusive efforts” but must also enhance public information campaign about these programs. (Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola and Genalyn D. Kabiling)