Additional anti-poverty and productivity interventions will be provided to poorest provinces in the country in order to reduce poverty incidence by 25 per cent.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the DA’s Special Area for Agricultural Development Program (SAAD) targets at least 10 poorest provinces every year who will be provided with the interventions.
Piñol added that every year, 10 more provinces are added and by the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, 60 provinces will be covered.
Piñol said the 20 poorest provinces in the country include Lanao del Sur, placed at No. 1 with 74.3% of families living below poverty threshold; followed by Sulu with 65.7%, while the three provinces in the island of Samar are all in the list -- Western Samar in No. 14 at 49.5%, Eastern Samar at No. 12/11 with 50% and Northern Samar in No. 4 with 61.6%.
Piñol said even his home province North Cotabato is included in the list of the 20 poorest provinces with 48.9% with families living below the poverty threshhold.
He said North Cotabato used to be one of the 30 most progressive provinces in 2006 with a very high human development index.
Piñol pointed out that North Cotabato has a poverty incidence of only 29% in 2010, a huge improvement from 52% in 1998 when he became governor.
“How it slid back to the ignominious group of 20 Poorest provinces would be a very good case study on the correlation of politics, governance and rural poverty.
“Ironically, the leaders who presided over the deterioration of the poverty level in my province are the very same people who are now accusing me of using the SAAD to gain political benefits for my daughter, Dr. Maria Krista Piñol-Solis who is running for Board Member, and my other siblings,” Piñol noted.
He stressed that if only North Cotabato did not backslide from one of the most progressive provinces to one of the poorest provinces, there would be no need for the SAAD program.
“And may I ask who should be blamed for this? They are the people who are trying to block the implementation of a program which would lift up my province to its old glory as one of the most progressive provinces in the country,” Piñol added.