Philippines' Poverty Rate
The Philippines’ poverty rate decreased from 25.2% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2015, according to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The drop in the Philippines’ poverty rate coincides with a steady decline for extreme poverty in the country. In 2015, 12.1% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Those who classify as living under extreme poverty are those whose earnings cannot buy three meals a day.

But despite the decline in these numbers, there are still glaring problems regarding the issue of poverty. One of the more prominent ones is the continued prevalence of poverty within most of the basic sectors in the country. Five of the nine basic sectors determined by the PSA—farmers (34.3%), fishermen (34.0), children belonging to families with income below the official poverty threshold (31.4), self-employed and unpaid family workers (25.0) and women belonging to poor families (22.5)—have higher poverty rates than the general population (at 21.6%). Farmers and fishermen consistently registered as the two sectors with the highest poverty incidence since 2006.


Poverty in the Philippines


Not surprisingly, the poorest regions in the country lay in the rural and agricultural areas, particularly in the island of Mindanao, an underdeveloped region that has also served as a battleground for Muslim militants and government forces for decades. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) registered the highest poverty incidence in the survey. Additionally, 53.4% of its 3,781,387 residents live below the poverty threshold and 30.1% live in extreme poverty.

In contrast, the Philippine capital of Metro Manila had the lowest proportion of the poor. Only 6.5% of the population lived below the official poverty line.

The downward trend in the Philippines’ poverty rate has most experts hopeful that poverty will continue to fall. Some are quick to cite that despite the fall in numbers, there are still more than 26 million Filipinos who remain poor, with 12 million lacking the means to feed themselves.

However, most agree that addressing the basic roots of poverty also must address graver issues that stem from it. Drops in the Philippines’ overall poverty rate do not matter to those who see no way out in war-torn towns, says counterinsurgency expert Justin Richmond. “The widespread vulnerability that you see in every area dealing with radicalization is lack of economic opportunities,” Richmond says in an interview with Rappler, a Philippine news organization.

Richmond also maintains that only in improving the standard of living in underdeveloped areas can the government truly prevent a possible radicalization of citizens.

“It’s all based on vulnerability,” Richmond concludes.

Bella Suansing

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Philippines
Poverty in the Philippines is widespread. The Republic of the Philippines is a country of 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is located in Southeast Asia and struggles to reduce high poverty rates. The United Nations (U.N.) reports that the Republic of the Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates in Asia despite a steady decline in recent years.

The country is rich in natural resources and biodiversity because of its close proximity to the equator; however, it is prone to earthquakes and storms, making it the third most disaster-prone country in the world.

The Philippines’ poverty level is also tied to uncontrolled population growth. According to the U.N., the Philippines “rapid population growth has exacerbated poverty and has fueled rapid urban population growth, overseas labor migration, and unprecedented environmental degradation.”

Philippine Poverty Stats

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released its latest poverty incidence update on March 18, 2016. The statistics, which account for the first semester of 2015, contain data collected from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) done in July 2015. This data shows that:

  • The poverty level for all Filipinos is 26.3 percent; for the same period in 2012, it was 27.9 percent.
  • The portion of the population who fall below the food threshold, or are unable to meet basic food requirements, is 12.1 percent; for the same period in 2012, it was 13.4 percent.
  • The poverty incidence for families in 2015 was 21.1 percent; in 2012 it was 22.3 percent.
  • The subsistence level, or the portion of Filipino families extreme poverty, in 2015 was 9.2 percent; in 2012 it was 10 percent.

The food threshold is the minimum income needed to meet basic food requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI). The poverty threshold is expanded to include basic non-food needs such as clothing, housing, transportation, health and education expenses.

The PSA includes these statistics in their reports and calculates how much income would be required for a family of five at subsistence level to pull themselves out of poverty.

In the first semester of 2015, the income gap for a family living in poverty in the Philippines is still 29 percent short of the threshold.

The Rural Poverty Portal reports that half of the poor in the Philippines live in rural areas. The poorest of the poor are the indigenous, landless laborers, fishermen, small farmers, mountain folk and women.

Deforestation, depleted fisheries and unproductive farmland are major problems for these peoples. Illiteracy and lack of educational opportunities are also critical issues.

The Republic of the Philippines made great strides in poverty reduction in recent years, but as with most countries, they still have much to improve upon.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr