Solon scores NSCB for the ‘case of the vanishing poor’

WHERE here have all the poor gone?”

That was the question of Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino in light of the National Statistical Coordination Board’s (NSCB) new methodology of measuring poverty in the country. The NSCB presented Wednesday in Congress the 2009 official poverty statistics to serve as critical data for decision-making of the government and the private sector

“My first reaction upon seeing the report was ‘where have all the poor gone?’ With the new methodology, the NSCB seemingly hid the poor under a pile of tweaked statistical data. Anyone moderately acquainted with statistics knows that NSCB’s report is not as neutral or objective as it would probably want to be perceived,” Palatino said.

Based on NSCB’s revised methodology, the official poverty threshold, or the amount supposedly necessary for a tolerable standard of living is 46 pesos per person per day in 2009. Under the old methodology the poverty threshold is 52 pesos per person per day, 6 pesos higher than the current figure.

Also with the new computation, the number of poor Filipinos in 2009 was reduced to 23.1 million. The figure is less by 5.3 million compared to 28.5 million if the old methodology were to be used.

“I do not get it why the NSCB seemingly sacrificed scientific honesty just so it could prettify the conditions of the poor. It would be best if we get an accurate picture of our country’s jarring reality than be lured into the idea that the poor in the country are slowly diminishing. What we are having now is the classic case of the vanishing poor,” Palatino said.

Palatino also criticized NSCB for failing to “generate poverty estimates on a regular basis.”

“For the government to be really guided by critical data, not only does the NSCB have to sharpen its methodologies, it should likewise sharpen its practice of generating poverty estimates on a regular basis,” he said.

Palatino on Tuesday filed House Resolution no. 960 directing the House committee on poverty alleviation to conduct a special inquiry on the new poverty measurement of the NSCB.

“The proper form of respect and assistance that we can give to the poor involves creating programs that will truly address their needs. That cannot be achieved if we fool ourselves into believing that poverty cases are decreasing in the country”

“The poor know that things are getting worse in light of the price hikes of commodities and social services. It is unfortunate that the government and its agencies seem to be blithely unaware of this fact,” Palatino said.

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