Duterte cited for poverty reduction

December 08, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte

HOUSE leaders led by Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday credited President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte with the reduction in the number of poor Filipinos by six million.

Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Rules, made the statement after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that poverty incidence or Filipinos not earning enough to meet basic food and non-food needs fell to 16.6 percent in 2018 despite the upward adjustment in the poverty thresholds compared to the revised 23.3 percent in 2015.

“The significant drop in poverty incidence is attributed to the sound economic policy of President Duterte who has been pursuing structural reforms needed to guarantee the country’s economic takeoff,” said Romualdez.

“The numbers now are good. All poverty indicators are at all-time low. We just need to stay on course and make sure that all the programs and policies are in place for the next phase of the war against poverty,” Romualdez added.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero said “the Duterte ’administration s anti-poverty alleviation campaign is working to its fullest.”

“PRRD’s target of reducing Philippine Poverty to an all time low of 14% by 2022 is very much achievable. For 2020-2022, Government must continue reducing poverty to almost one percent per year to achieve its goals. But NEDA’s higher target of reducing poverty by 2.23% per annum, is a very aggressive objective which can make PH poverty at the end of the Duterte government’s term become single digit.  This can make our country, a certified industrialized and developed nation by 2022,” said Romero, president of the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI).

Romero also cited the Build, Build, Build program of the government, which he described as an internal pump priming of the Philippine economy that also accelerated public spending.

“This made our inclusive growth become more aggressive with growths averaging at 6% - 7% per annum. This means, we create our own destiny by churning our internal economy faster, thus creating a domino effect for the whole country, making every Filipino have a higher income per capita,” said Romero.

“Aside from the rapid but continuous growth of our economy, one of the main drivers in reducing poverty in the Philippines is the program I champion and am a staunch proponent:  the Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). This CCT and 4P’s program have lifted millions of people around the world from poverty, from Latin America to Africa.  This is also is the main weapon the government is using to reduce poverty in the Philippines,” Romero added.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga, Jr., president of the National Unity “Party (NUP), and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, cited President Duterte’s commendable economic policy that pushed the Philippine economy to grow at a faster pace in the third quarter of 2019, resulting in the reduction of poverty incidence.

“We expect a better economy by end the of the year as Christmas time approaches because the people will have more money to spend arising from the 13th month pay etc. and there will also be higher cash remittances from our overseas Filipino workers (OFW) during the Holiday period. We see a bullish trend also because of the good investment climate under the Duterte administration, especially with the country’s inclusion in the top 50 percent nations in the world that are conducive for business investments,” said Barzaga, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, recalling that the country’s economy measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) posted 6.2 percent growth compared to the 5.5 percent GDP growth in the second quarter an d six percent in the third quarter of 2018.

For his part, Salceda said the drop in poverty incidence “is by far the most significant positive news in the first thee years of the Duterte administraton.”

“The number of poor individuals decreased by almost 6 million from 23.5 million in 2015 to 17.6 million in 2018.  Poverty incidence among individuals fell substantially by 6.7% to 16.6% in 2018 from 23.3% in 2015. Among families, poverty incidence fell to 5.8% to 12.1% from 17.9% during the same comparable liberating 1.1 million families from poverty from 4.1 million to 3 million,” said Salceda.

“The magnitudes of poverty reduction are among the biggest since 1986. More so, it breaks the usual trend where poverty incidence is lower but the number of poor people is higher due to higher population growth in poor families which are typically bigger-sized. This performance is so much better than expected given the spike of inflation in the survey period- 2018 when inflation peaked at 6.7% due to food prices. More so, it dilutes the claims that TRAIN law (effective 1 Jan. 2018) was regressive thus would increase poverty,” said Salceda.