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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Poverty, climate change is next admin’s biggest challenge --Loren

Senator Loren Legarda said today that the next administration must implement real solutions to the problems of joblessness, poverty and
hunger among Filipinos, even as she chided government's "sugar-coated" statistics on the incidence of poverty in the country.

"There is great disparity between the 53 percent of Filipinos who consider themselves poor in the latest Social Weather Station (SWS)
survey and the 32.9 percent of poor Filipinos as determined by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)," said Loren.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Loren said that the discrepancy arises not only from the three-year difference
when the NSCB last estimated poverty in the Philippines in 2006 and when the SWS conducted the survey for the month of September 2009.

"There's a 20-percent difference that could only be blamed on the unrealistic paramaters set by the outgoing administration in
determining who among Filipinos are poor," said Loren.

"I am, of course, referring to the NSCB's poverty threshold of P15,057 for a family composed of five members, which is just too low and
unrealistic," she stressed.

Loren cited the finding of an independent think-tank that based on the government-set poverty threshold, a Filipino would just need P41.25 a
day to meet both his food and non-food needs each day. "That's even less than a dollar a day considering the present exchange rate of
P47.50 to a US dollar," said Loren.

The senator said that the next administration that would be voted into office in next year's election must come up with more realistic
poverty indicators because undereportage of real poverty incidence results to government's policies, actions and programs not being based
on reality.

"If government is to be effective in helping provide livelihood, boosting the economy and ensuring food sufficiency for the 88.57
million Filipinos (as of August 2007), it must first determine where we really stand and must shed off its blinders," said Loren.

The Philippine population is projected to hit 92.3 million this year.

Reacting to the SWS survey, a Malacañang official blamed the economicslowdown and the recent typhoons that hit the country for the increase
in the poverty incidence.

"There may be a grain of truth in that claim by Malacañang, considering that the SWS survey for September must have been
undertaken at least after the first of three typhoons, Ondoy, had hit the country," said Loren.

"But typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi primarily hit Luzon, while the SWS survey was nationwide in scope. So, it's not at all factual, this
claim by the government."

Just the same, Loren said that the devastations caused by the typhoons would indeed necessitate a review of the 2010 national budget because
the same had been proposed well before the three typhoons devastated the country.

"The next administration will have its work cut out for it. It must address worsening poverty, which is expected to be aggravated by
climate change related concerns, such as what we've seen with Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi," said Loren.

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