by Vito Barcelo and Maricel V. Cruz, Manila Standard, Apr 12, 2019
A Philippine Statistics Authority official on Thursday defended the P10,481 estimated minimum budget needed by a family of five to survive in a month.
But the statement was quickly slammed by two labor groups that said the amount was anti-poor in a modern and modernizing economy, adding the threshold implied malnourished Filipinos and a miserable standard of living.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Partido Manggagawa said the PSA’s announcement would be used by business groups and the government to avoid raising the salaries of ordinary workers.
“If we are going to this standard basis for our public and private policy to uplift our people from poverty, it would appear there is no sense of urgency in this poverty threshold standard amount set by the PSA,” TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said.
“There’s no prospect of hope for the millions of poor Filipinos.” Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro also slammed the Duterte administration for “giving a low priority to pay increases.”
“The PSA says that in 2018 a family of five needed at least ₱7,337, on average, to meet basic food needs for a month,” Tinio said.
“We believe that setting such an incredibly low food threshold―so out of touch from the realities that Filipino families face especially those in the rural areas―is intended to deny the demand for urgent and substantial salary and wage increases.”
Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, PSA Assistant Secretary Josie Perez said the P10,481 could already make a family of five afford “nutritious foods.”
“Hindi naman puro noodles ‘yan, kasi binase rin po namin ‘yung computation ng food threshold doon sa food bundle na nire-recommend ng [Food and Nutrition Research Institute],” Perez said.
At a press briefing Wednesday reporting the 21-percent decline in the country’s poverty incidence in the first half of 2018, the PSA said no less than P10,481, on average, was needed for a family of five to meet their basic food and non-food needs for a month.
The P10, 481 estimate was broken down into P7,337 for the basic food needs and P3,144 for the basic non-food needs like shelter, clothing, utilities, transportation, and communication, Perez said.
She said the food items considered in the basic food budget were based on the nutritious food bundle recommended by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
The food bundle included meals with egg, coffee or milk, rice and fruit for breakfast; mongo beans, fish, rice and fruit for lunch, fish, pork, vegetables, fruit, rice and snacks like bread for dinner, Perez said.
She said she was aware that the P10,481 could be considered in assessing the minimum wages in the country, but she noted that wage boards had their own method of computation.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes criticized the PSA over its estimate, describing it as unrealistic.