The global coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis has not only taken a strain on the country’s health but on its wealth as well.
Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) Executive Director Juan Perez III, however, said that provinces with lesser cases of Covid-19 are under better conditions.
The recent data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that in five regions least affected by the contagion, or those with 8.1 percent of deaths last year, 809,500 Filipinos or 161,900 families improved their living conditions.
The bulk of families elevated from poverty live in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan took 121,000 out of the economic strain.
However, poverty rose among 28,300 families in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Perez noted that Sulu now holds the record for having the largest percentage of families living below the poverty threshold, or the amount that can sustain food and non-food basic needs, at 71.9 percent, or 111,200 families.
As of the first semester of 2021, the monthly poverty threshold was estimated at an average of PHP12,082 for a family of five.
BARMM did not report new Covid-19 cases on January 1 and has only 20 active infections to date, none among them critical and one severe.
Of the region’s 15,543 total cases, 634 died.
In Lanao del Sur, poverty reduction was at 57 percent, from 68 percent of families to 11 percent, a vast improvement in the quality of living of more than 500,000 in the province from 2018 to 2021.
The province transitioned from having the highest number of poor families three years ago to eight notches below at ninth spot.
“The rate of poverty reduction is nothing short of spectacular in Lanao del Sur as this occurred during a combined national health and economic crisis. The fact that the province is in a region least affected by Covid-19 contributed greatly to the outcome,” Perez said in a statement on Monday.
In terms of absolute numbers, the province of Cebu has the most number of poor families at 276,900; followed by Negros Occidental (166,000); Camarines Sur (152,300); Pangasinan (138,600); Bulacan (132,000); and Zamboanga del Norte (131,200).
Regional economies with the most number of pandemic-plagued areas also showed increases in their poverty threshold — well above their poverty levels in 2018 — and exhibited the collateral effects of the pandemic.
Those which reflected increases as well as Covid-19-related deaths from January to September 2021 are Central Luzon (+ PHP3,250; 9,001 deaths), Ilocos (+ PHP2,633; 1,891 deaths), National Capital Region (+ PHP2,523; 14,218 deaths), Central Visayas (+ PHP2,450; 1,622 deaths), Cagayan Valley (+ PHP2,044; 1,824 deaths), Calabarzon (+ PHP1,935; 10,386 deaths), and Bicol (+ PHP1,898; 1,141 deaths).
Families in Central Luzon were most affected by the increase in the poverty threshold, with an additional 190,900 or 46 percent becoming poorer in the last three years, according to data.
The increase in poverty was also felt in Central Visayas as 173,500 families languished below the poverty threshold during the last three years. (PNA)