Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the lowering of the daily poverty threshold by the National Statistical Coordination Board from P52 to P46 per person for the base year of 2009, saying the move shows the Aquino government’s refusal to address the widespread poverty and hunger in the country.
The revision, announced last February, resulted in the removal of about one million families from those considered poor in 2009 – the latest reference year in the NSCB’s poverty estimates announced every three years.
“This magic trick in poverty statistics puts into question the Aquino government’s sincerity in solving poverty and hunger in the country,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
“A sincere campaign of eradicating poverty and hunger will start from recognizing the real and serious extent of these. That is not what the Aquino government is doing,” he added.
Like Gloria, Marcos
The NSCB was able to lower the per person daily poverty threshold by reducing standards for food. Breakfast, for example, was changed from “tomato omelette/coffee for adults/milk for children/fried rice” to “scrambled egg with milk/boiled rice.”
“This is like Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo redefining the unemployed by excluding those who are already demoralized and have stopped looking for work. This is like former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos building white walls to hide the urban poor from the view of foreign dignitaries,” Soluta said.
“The goal is not to recognize poverty and hunger but to misrecognize these. The aim is not to alleviate the current levels of poverty and hunger but make the public happy with these,” he added.
Justification for meager minimum wage
KMU said the redefinition of the per capita daily poverty threshold also seeks to justify the very meager minimum wage in the country.
“The NSCB’s redefinition of the poverty threshold is bad news for workers, as it seeks to justify the very small minimum wage in the country. It aims to show that the current minimum wage is more than enough to feed a family of five,” Soluta said.
The minimum wage in the National Capital Region, which is highest in the country, is currently at P404 plus the P22 Cost of Living Allowance granted last May.
“An ordinary Filipino family finds it very hard to survive with P404 a day, so surviving with P46 a day per person is a cruel joke for Filipino workers,” he added. Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General