Noynoy debunks rise in hunger, poverty poll results

Published by rudy Date posted on April 9, 2011

A March 4 to 7 poll conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on self-rated poverty and hunger found a sharp rise in number under President Aquino’s administration, with 51 percent of the respondents saying they feel poor and 20.5 percent, composed of 4.1 million Filipino familes going hungry

The number is up from the 18 percent or some 3.4 million families as recorded in a November 2010 by the same survey firm when the rate again began climbing from that year’s 15.9 percent low.

The March poll also found that 19.4 million families, or 51 percent consider themselves poor, with the numbers showing that there was an increase of two percent from 49 percent scored in November 2010.

It was also noted that 40 percent or 8.1 million families, consider

themselves food-poor, a percenrage that was higher than the 36 percent recorded in an earlier survey.

Aquino expressed disbelief on Friday after the survey found that the number of people experiencing hunger and poverty under his administration has been on the rise, saying that the nationwide survey, did not reflect the reports he was getting from government agencies and the business community.

“Why is it like this when the labor department says more people are getting jobs and the business community is reporting that they are hiring more people?” Aquino told reporters. “I cannot reconcile this,” he added.

Aquino pointed out that the poverty and hunger rate in the country should have dropped already owing to his government’s version of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, a copy od the Brazilian model.

He said he tried seeking answers from Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman since according to the numbers provided by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) his administration was able to provide jobs to unemployed citizens as reported by the business community.

Aquino said he could not reconcile the reports he has been getting from his Cabinet secretaries on the results of SWS’ latest survey which, he claimed, may have failed to ask the beneficiaries of his P21-billion worth CCT program.

“As I understand it, if you read the survey more thoroughly, it seems that the bulk of the data come fron the NCR (National Capital Region) and balance Luzon. In the CCT [program] unfortunately, the bulk of the 400,000 (additional recipients) can be found in Visayas and Mindanao,” reasoned Aquino.

“It so happened that in the statistical sample that was used, it was not able to capture those who benefited from the CCT. So if that has been reversed, if the bulk (of the respondents surveyed belong to that group), the result would have been skewed because it will say that majority have been alleviated from hunger,” Aquino added.

SWS said that nationwide, moderate hunger — experiencing it only once or a few times — rose to 15.7 percent or some 3.2 million families from 2.8 million families in November. Severe hunger — experiencing it often or always — increased to 4.7 percent or 950,000 families) from 588,000 families.

The report alo said that by area, overall hunger hit a record 25 percent or 2.2 million families in Balance Luzon from 18.3 percent, or 1.5 million families.

“The new rate topped the previous high of 22.3 percent in September 2007, and offset declines in Mindanao (16.7 percent from 18 percent), Metro Manila (20.7percent from 21.7 percent ) and the Visayas (14.7 percent from 15.3 percent).

“Broken down, moderate hunger hit a record 18.7 percent in Balance Luzon, overtaking record of 18.1 percent in March 2010. This also cancelled out improvements in the Visayas (9.7 percent from 12.7 percent), Metro Manila (16.7 percent from 17.7 percent ) and Mindanao (14.7 percent from 16 percent).

“The new moderate hunger rates are still higher than their 12-year averages for all areas, except in the Visayas where the latest … is lower than the 12-year average of 10.2%,” the SWS said.

Severe hunger also hit a record high of 6.3 percent in Balance Luzon, surpassing the 6 percent hit in December 2008. The rate stayed at 4 percent in Metro Manila and at 2 percent in Mindanao but rose to 5 percent from 2.7 percent in the Visayas.”

SWS’s newspaper partner, BusinessWorld, has first crack at survey publications.

Aquino refused to accept criticisms that many poor families have not been able to enjoy the benefits provided by the CCT, arguing that serving an additional 1.3 million households cannot be accomplished in just one week.

“We believe the CCT program has been helping but as regards our poverty level here, just how many are living below poverty line? Don’t forget that there 4.6 million families and the bulk of the population is in Luzon. But the highest incidence of hunger has been noted in Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) Secretary Ricky Carandang, for his part, admitted that they are “concerned” about the SWS survey results and said they are going to work hard to fulfill Aquino’s promise of reducing poverty under his administration.

Carandang, however, echoed Aquino’s line of reasoning that the fulfillment of the administration’s promises cannot be expected immediately but he assured they are addressing the public’s needs through the short-term measures they have already imposed to help the ordinary citizens deal with the rising prices of basic commodities. –Aytch S. de la Cruz and AFP

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