MALACANANG did not deny the interview of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s economic adviser Governor Joey Salceda, citing that poor people have gotten poorer during the nine terms of the President.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar on Monday said the administration is admitting the rise in hunger incidence in the country from 2000 to 2009.

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He defended though that what was captured in the news was only the “major sore spot in a sea of good news” of the President’s economic legacy.

Showing the trend in self-rated poverty conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) since the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Olivar said self-rated poverty has gradually declined through the years from 74 percent in Marcos term to 62 percent during the start of Arroyo’s term, and down to 46 percent by the last quarter of 2009.

He said this survey was conducted in the same period tracked by the

Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), which was cited by Salceda in his interview.

“What was highlighted in particular was his (Salceda) observation that hunger incidence increased from 11.4 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent by 2009, a notable trend by any standard,” Olivar said, pertaining to the news published in major broadsheet.

The Palace official also said they are not denying these figures but it should have been put in the proper context. “They should have combined the two (hunger rate and decline in self-rated poverty).”

“We can talk about the distinction between economic growth and equity of income distribution and make the point that it is possible – sometimes even inevitable – to have more growth with more income inequity – the latter being the source of more hunger -- but it is not possible to have less income inequity without more growth.”

Olivar said poverty and hunger is a continuing challenge to the government, thus they are not denying that poverty still remains in the country.

He meanwhile added that poverty problem is a responsibility of all people and it is not only the government’s problem to deal with.

“This leads us to ask: how much of those dividends found their way through the charity of the privately wealthy into the lives of the needy and hungry among us? Or more to the point, if more than just one-third of corporate profits had been reinvested, how much more could businesses have expanded, more jobs been created, and the productivity and incomes of labor been improved? These questions bear answering in the event that many of those same businessmen go around complaining about how government isn’t doing enough about poverty and hunger.”

He ended that it is a challenge for the next administration to ease poverty. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)