Poverty incidence in Bicol drops; top gainer is Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- Despite the series of natural calamities that hit Bicol, poverty situation in the region showed improvements in 2015 compared to 2012. Albay province particularly showed the “biggest improvement” from among Bicol’s six provinces during this period. This development was highlighted during the latest statistics report on poverty issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) regional office. Cynthia Perdiz, PSA regional director, said that poverty incidence in Bicol showed improvements in 2015, both in terms of families and individuals. Poverty incidence among families dropped by 4.8 percent, from 32.3 percent in 2012 to 27.5 percent in 2015, she said. “Similarly, the poverty incidence among individuals, was down by 5.1 percent, from the 41.1 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2015,” said Perdiz. PSA data also show that among the six provinces in the region, Albay posted the biggest improvement in poverty situation of families. “From the 33.9 percent recorded in 2012 it dropped to 17.6 percent in 2015 or a reduction of 16.3 percentage points,” the data show. Masbate and Camarines Sur also recorded decreases in poverty incidence of families. The decrease was 4.6 percentage points in Camarines Sur, from 31.7 percent in 2012 to 27.1 percent in 2015. In Masbate, the decrease was 5.1 percentage points, from 40.6 percent in 2012 it dropped to 35.5 percent in 2015. But despite this drop in percentage of poor families in Masbate over the three-year period, PSA noted that in 2015, Masbate’s 35.5 remains the highest poverty incidence among families throughout Bicol. “In 2015, Masbate recorded 35.5 percent, Catanduanes, 33.6 percent, Sorsogon, 31.7 percent, Camarines Norte, 29.3 percent, Camarines Sur, 27.1 percent, and Albay, 17. 6 percent,” the PSA disclosed. On the other hand, as the data show, poverty situation worsened in three Bicol provinces from 2012 to 2015, particularly in terms of poverty incidence by families. “These were in Camarines Norte, which showed the biggest increase in incidence at 7.6 percent, Catanduanes rose by 6.5 percent and Sorsogon was slightly up by 0.4 percent,” the data show. In terms of poverty incidence among individuals in 2015, Albay had the lowest incidence, from 41.1 percent in 2012 to 25.2 percent in 2015. PSA said this 15.8 percent reduction recorded for Albay was the “biggest improvement” compared to the other provinces. Such improvement was recorded during the administration of former Albay governor and now second district Representative Joey S. Salceda. A comparison among the Bicol provinces shows that in terms of poverty incidence among individuals, Masbate in 2015 had the highest poverty incidence at 45.4 percent, followed by Catanduanes at 43.4 percent and Sorsogon at 41.3 percent. The Bicol region’s per capita poverty threshold in 2015 was placed at P21,476 which was higher than the P18,257 pegged in 2012. “This means that a Bicolano family with five members would need at least P8,948 average monthly income to meet both basic food and non-food needs,” Perdiz pointed out. Among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur recorded the highest cost of living with P22,154 annual per capita poverty threshold while Masbate had the lowest at P20,406 in 2015. PSA noted that in 2015, at least 36.0 percent or 2.2 million of Bicol’s total population of 5.8 million were considered poor.