Re-measuring Poverty: Poverty Incidence to Fall Due to Data Manipulation

To show that fewer Filipinos are poor, the government devised a clever way of re-measuring poverty.With the new calculations, “the annual per capita poverty threshold in 2006 (went down) to P13,635 from P15,057 under the old methodology. The threshold for 2003 dropped to P11,197 from P12,309”, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) . In other words, in 2006, a Filipino with an annual income of P 14,000.00 (P1,166.00 / month) was considered poor in the OLD calculation. But in the NEW method, that same person would be considered NOT POOR!

Really, how can a person getting P1,166.00 a month be considered NOT POOR? Housemaids get DOUBLE that amount in 2006! A person living with that amount could not possibly be having a DECENT life.

The new method also changed the calculation from regional levels to provincial levels. Thus, a person can be considered poor in one province but not poor in another province.

The contents of the food bundle (food threshold) – the type of food that an individual can eat to provide the necessary calories for a decent life – was also changed.

In the OLD METHOD, this is the FOOD THRESHOLD menu for the National Capital Region (NCR):

Breakfast: Tomato Omelette and fried rice. Coffee for adults and milk for children

Lunch: Fried galunggong (big bellied round scad), sauteed mongo with  malunggay leaves and small shrimps

Dinner:  Pork adobo, sauteed pechay (from the cabbage family), boiled (steamed) rice, banana latundan

Snacks: pan de sal with margarine

In the NEW Methodology, this is the NCR FOOD BUNDLE:

Breakfast:  Scrambled eggs, Coffee with milk, boiled (steamed) rice

Lunch: Boiled mongo (mungbean) with malunggay (Moringa) leaves, and dried DILIS (long-jawed anchovies)

Dinner: Fried TULINGAN, Boiled Kangkong (sometimes translated as river spinach) and boiled (steamed) rice

Snacks: Pan de sal

Obviously, there is a BIG DISCREPANCY. In the new standard, tomatoes and the cooking oil ingredient for frying was removed for breakfast.

For lunch,  Mongo or mungbean is simply boiled instead of sauteed. To sautee, one needs cooking oil and usually garlic and spices. Small shrimps were removed. And instead of galunggong (the so-called “poor man’s fish”) has been changed to DILIS. I suppose DILIS has now taken the dubious distinction of being the “poor man’s fish.”

For dinner, pork has been turned into TULINGAN, a kind of tuna fish. Sauteed pechay was changed to boiled kangkong (the poor man’s vegetable”). And dessert (ripe banana)was removed.

For snacks, the margarine was removed.

Is the food menu in the old and new methods equivalent in price and nutritional requirements? Certainly not. The food menu of the OLD method costs AT LEAST one and half times that of the NEW method. Therefore, the standards have changed and so many who were considered poor in the old method will now be considered NOT poor (above the poverty level index) in the NEW method.

With the new method, the PNoy government will trumpet that the POVERTY INCIDENCE in the Philippines has dropped to significant levels. But the reality is, they have not. On the contrary, they could have even risen.

With the new method, millions of Filipinos who were once classified as POOR will now be classified as NOT POOR! This is not because they have a higher standard of living or higher income but because of MANIPULATION OF DATA or changing definitions.

It is thus important for Filipinos to remember that the definition of POOR by the government is NOT the same as the definition of POOR by the previous governments.



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