Less poverty and inequality This year? Will the number of poor Filipinos and families decrease this 2024?

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in the First Semester of 2023, on the average, a family of five members needed at least PP13,797 per month to meet their minimum basic food/non-food needs.

This year, will we see a decrease in the 2023 estimated 22.4 per cent or25.24 million Filipinos whose poverty incidence or per capita income was not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs?

Also, will more Filipinos this year be able to buy their basic food needs?

In the First semester of 2023, there were about 9.79 million Filipinos (about 8.7%) whose income was not enough to buy even the basic food needs estimated at P9,550 monthly food threshold for a family of five.

Millions of our fisherfolks and farmers are among the poorest in our country.

With global warming/El Ni?o affecting their catch and produce, will we see instead deepening and more widespread poverty and hunger among them this year?

If the poverty incidence statistics can be a gauge of governance (how effective and responsive local officials in the provinces and cities are in ensuring that their constituents have income that allows them and their family of 5 to be able to meet their basic food and non-food needs) - consider these data:

Despite being touted as the wealthiest with assets of P235.7 billion in 2023,Cebu Province had, in the First semester of 2023, an estimated poverty incidence among families of 10.7% or millions of constituents with insufficient per capita income for their basic food and non-food needs.

Cebu City, ranked 7thrichest with P30.545 billionin 2023, had a poverty incidenceamong families of 10.1 %, again, millions with insufficient per capita income for their basic food and non-food needs in the First Semester of 2023.

Readers may be interested to know that Mandaue had the lowest poverty incidence among families at 9.7% and Lapu-Lapu City (Opon) with 10.6%.

For the information of all Filipinos, among all cities, Duterte’s Davao City had the highest poverty incidence among families at 21.7% during the same period in 2023.

If PSA data from the FIES (Family Income and Expenditure Survey) were to be further analyzed, will Filipinos be disturbed/dismayed to realize that while the first 10% of our people had, in 2023, an estimated very low mean per capita income of P10, 098, in stark contrast, those in the top 10% group had very high mean per capita income of P168,716/more!

Poverty, then, is not our only problem.

Inequality is real - the gap between the poor and the rich widening, with the numerous poor getting poorer, the few rich getting richer.

Do you think this will be the year our people will see a change for the better, with less poverty and inequality among Filipinos?

2024 will precede election year 2025.

Will candidates again promise our people better lives/more jobs/adequate income/ genuine care?

Will the Filipino voters be wiser and realize that, through years/centuries, they/their families have not breached the poverty/food thresholds while those they elected now have more wealth/power and unwilling to relinquish their positions beyond themselves/ their families?

Will the Filipino voters open their eyes to the self-inflicted harm of their vote-selling? Will they finally vote for those who will genuinely prioritize the welfare and interest of the poor and the needy?

How many have started this “Prayer for the Removal of the Wicked?”

“Father, we ask in the name of Jesus that all WILLFUL WORKERS OF WICKEDNESS be removed from position of power, prominence and prestige.

Open the eyes of those being deceived and place people who stand for your righteous cause in the high places of government and influence.

In Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”

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