Manila, Philippines – The March 2012 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey shows worsening poverty in the country as 11.1 million Filipino households consider themselves poor, up from 9.1 million households in the December 2011 survey.
Self-rated poverty is worse in Mindanao at 72 percent and in the Visayas at 61 percent.
The pronouncement of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on calamities that hit Visayas and Mindanao to be the likely cause of the worse self-rated poverty survey results should not be taken as an excuse for what seems to be the failure of the Aquino Administration to arrest the poverty problem in the country.
The fact is, natural calamities, particular those that are as severe as the floods and earthquakes that hit the country recently obviously made the life of millions of Filipinos more economically challenging.
It is reassuring to note that the Aquino Administration, through the DSWD is said to be pouring more resources directly to the poorest of the poor to alleviate their economic sufferings.
If the self-rated poverty of Filipinos will be the gauged in determining the performance of the government in addressing the poverty problem in the country, the government should not expect the situation to significantly improve simply because of intensified implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.
While the P1,400 monthly cash assistance from the government through its CCT program is a big help for indigent families, receiving the same will obviously not make the beneficiaries rate themselves as not being poor.
The government’s program for the graduates of the cash program should be intensified because it will result in more significant positive difference on the quality of life of the poorest among the poor in our country. Such program calls for the provision of livelihood opportunities through microenterprise management, capital assistance and guaranteed employment.
Such program is an enduring and truly responsive assistance for the beneficiaries because it enables them to have a quality of life that will make them rate themselves as no longer among the poor in our country.
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