MANILA (UPDATE 2) -- Poverty incidence fell in the first half of 2018 from three years prior, putting the government on track to meet its target of lifting at least 1 million people from poverty every year, official data released Wednesday showed.
The proportion of Filipino families living below the poverty line fell to 16.1 percent in January to June 2018, from 22.2 percent during the same period in 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority said. Among individuals, poverty incidence fell to 21 percent from 27.6 percent during the same period.
"It’s a reasonable expectation that we are on track to meet targets," National Economic and Development Authority Usec. Carlos Bernardo Abad Santos told reporters.
In the first half of 2018, a family of 5 needed to spend at least P10,481 a month for food and non-food items to not be considered poor, PSA Assistant Secretary Josie Perez said. For food alone, a family of 5 needed to spend no less than P7,337.
More Filipino families were able spend past this threshold as average income went up to 21.2 percent from 15.2 percent, NEDA Usec. Adoracion Navarro told reporters.
At least a million Filipinos needs to be lifted from poverty every year to meet the 14 percent poverty incidence target by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez earlier said.
Poverty incidence is the "most important number" for the economic managers and development will be "meaningless" if it does not mean "liberating people from the curse of poverty," he said.
Poverty incidence was highest in ARMM at 55.4 percent, and lowest in NCR at 4.9 percent. Lanao del Sur was the poorest province with 73.8 percent poverty incidence, followed by Sulu with 71.8 percent.
"We really need to bring in more income there, connectivity and jobs in the region because poverty is mainly reduced by increases in wage and salaries," Abad Santos said.
Poverty incidence in the country can further ease if livelihood opportunities and investments expand to areas outside Metro Manila and other urban centers, Navarro said.
Malacañang said the poverty data showed that the Duterte administration has made “significant strides” in the fight against poverty.
“…We will not rest but rather continue to work hard to achieve our target of decreasing poverty incidence to 14 percent, or even better, by the end of PRRD's term in 2022 and fulfill the President’s vision of providing a comfortable life for each and every Filipino,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.