PSA: Cebu has most poor people in PH

THE Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to the early part of 2023, as well as super typhoon Odette in December 2021 damaged the savings and earning power of residents of Central Visayas, particulary in Cebu Province (above), which suffered the brunt of the powerful rare tropical cyclone. / SUNSTAR FILE
THE Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to the early part of 2023, as well as super typhoon Odette in December 2021 damaged the savings and earning power of residents of Central Visayas, particulary in Cebu Province (above), which suffered the brunt of the powerful rare tropical cyclone. / SUNSTAR FILE

AMONG the 17 regions in the country, Central Visayas had the most number of poor people at a whopping 2.56 million in the first semester of 2023, while among the provinces, Cebu topped the list with 1.72 million poor people.

The Central Visayas figure translates to 10.1 percent of the 25.24 million poor Filipinos in that period, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Central Visayas bagged the lead after a significant chunk, or 31 percent, of its residents were found to be mired in poverty, based on the preliminary results of the first visit of the 2023 Family Income and Expenditure Survey.

The PSA’s preliminary 2023 first semester poverty statistics released late last month showed that the poverty incidence in Central Visayas is higher than the national poverty incidence of 22.4 percent that translates to 25.24 million poor Filipinos nationwide.

Poverty incidence is the number of individuals with income below the per capita poverty threshold divided by the total number of individuals.

The poverty threshold is the minimum income required for a family or individual to meet the basic food and non-food requirements.

According to the PSA, a family of five members, on average, needed at least P13,797 per month to meet their minimum basic food and non-food needs in the country in the first half of 2023.

In Central Visayas, a family of five needed P14,203 per month to meet their minimum basic food and non-food needs, for a per capita poverty threshold for the whole six months of P17,044, or roughly P95 per person per day.

Not the worst

Despite the high poverty incidence in Central Visayas, five other regions actually fared worse.

The following had the highest poverty incidence in the country: Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), 44.8 percent poverty incidence; Zamboanga Peninsula, 38.2 percent; Eastern Visayas, 33.7 percent; Bicol Region, 32.9 percent; and Northern Mindanao, 32.8 percent.

Having the lowest poverty incidence in the country were the National Capital Region (NCR), 5.1 percent; Calabarzon, 13.5 percent; Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), 13.9 percent; Central Luzon, 15.7 percent; Cagayan Valley, 16.2 percent; and Ilocos Region, 18.7 percent -- all in Luzon.

The 31 percent poverty incidence in Central Visayas was an improvement from the 33 percent registered in 2021, but a drastic deterioration from the 24.3 percent registered in 2018, showing just how much the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to the early part of 2023, as well as super typhoon Odette in December 2021 damaged the savings and earning power of residents.

Deteriorating

Within Central Visayas, Cebu was hardest hit, with poverty incidence at 32.5 percent in the first half of 2023 (a significant worsening from the 21.6 percent poverty incidence in the same period in 2018); followed by Bohol, 29.8 percent (a deterioration from the 26.1 percent in 2018).

In absolute numbers, the number of people in Cebu (including the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue) who did not have enough to meet their basic food and non-food requirements jumped to 1.72 million in the first half of 2023 from 1.06 million in the same period in 2018, while the poor in Bohol rose to 414,670 in 2023 from 350,540 in 2018.

In Cebu, the biggest jump in poor population was in Cebu Province, where this number nearly doubled to 1.45 million in the first half of 2023, from 831,450 in the same period in 2018.

Also seeing jumps in their poor populations were Cebu City to 143,560 from 132,860; Lapu-Lapu to 72,450 from 49,120, and Mandaue to 58,070 from 49,820.

The other two provinces in the region, however, saw their fortunes improve over the five-year period, as Negros Oriental saw its poverty incidence drop to 28.6 percent in 2023 from 32.7 percent in 2018, while Siquijor had only a 6.3 percent poverty incidence in the first half of 2023, a vast improvement from its 13.4 percent incidence in 2018.

Where the poor are

In terms of number of poor people, following the 2.56 million in Central Visayas, the regions with high numbers of poor people were Calabarzon, 2.28 million; BARMM, 2.23 million; Western Visayas, 2.10 million; Bicol Region, 2.07 million; and Central Luzon, P2.02 million.

The fewest poor people were in CAR, 256,850 people; Cagayan Valley, 607,060; and NCR, 721,450.

Among the provinces, following the 1.72 million poor in Cebu were Negros Occidental with 1.12 million poor people; Bulacan, 805,790; Pangasinan, 768,930; Maguindanao, 755,320; and Camarines Sur, 750,430.

The provinces with the fewest poor people were Batanes, 2,280; Ilocos Norte, 5,890; Siquijor, 6,430; and Apayao, 9,760.

Subsistence

As for the subsistence incidence among Filipinos, or the proportion of Filipinos whose income is not enough to buy even the basic food needs, this came in at 8.7 percent or about 9.79 million Filipinos nationwide in the first semester of 2023.

And once again, Central Visayas topped the list, hosting nearly 1.13 million, or 11.5 percent, of the country’s subsistence poor population.

The subsistence incidence in Central Visayas of 13.7 percent in the first half of 2023 was worse than the national average.

Only five other regions did worse than Central Visayas: Davao Region, 13.9 percent; Soccsksargen, 14 percent; Eastern Visayas, 14.9 percent; Zamboanga Peninsula, 17 percent; and BARMM, 18.1 percent.

The PSA placed the average monthly food threshold for a family of five in the country at P9,550.

The average monthly food threshold for a family of five in Central Visayas, on the other hand, was P9,953, or roughly P66 per person per day.

Within Central Visayas, the worst subsistence incidence in the first half of 2023 was in Cebu at 15.3 percent; followed by Negros Oriental, 11.7 percent; Bohol, 10.6 percent; and Siquijor, 0.5 percent.

Again, Cebu and Bohol showed a worsening of their subsistence levels from 2018 when they registered these at only seven percent and 10.2 percent, respectively.

On top again

In absolute numbers, the number of people in Cebu (including the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue) who did not even have enough to meet their food needs rose to 812,610 in the first half of 2023 from 341,280 in 2018, while in Bohol, this figure rose to 147,900 in 2023 from 137,630 in 2018.

Cebu had the highest subsistence population among the provinces.

In Cebu, the biggest jump in subsistence population was in Cebu Province, where this population nearly tripled to 732,320 people in 2023 from 259,960 in 2018. The number rose to 18,160 for Mandaue from 18,110 in 2018. In Lapu-Lapu, this population also increased to 23,820 from 15,680. Cebu City, however, saw its numbers drop to 38,320 from 47,540 in 2018.

Negros Oriental saw its subsistence incidence improve from 16.7 percent in 2018. Siquijor also did better this year from its 4.6 percent subsistence incidence in 2018.

Following Central Visayas in number of subsistence poor population are BARMM, 901,210 people; Western Visayas, 815,780; Bicol Region, 805,070; Davao Region, 768,210; and Eastern Visayas, 733,610.

The regions with the lowest number of subsistence poor were CAR, 91,210; NCR, 125,320; Cagayan Valley, 174,840; Caraga, 313,050; and Mimaropa, 327,690.

Families

Translated into families, the PSA said there were 4.51 million poor families in the country, of whom 1.62 million were food poor families in the first semester of 2023.

In Central Visayas, there were 490,950 poor families (335,890 in Cebu, 77,050 in Negros Oriental, 76,850 in Bohol and 1,160 in Siquijor), of which around 198,200 were food poor (144,480 families in Cebu, 28,530 in Negros Oriental, 25,090 in Bohol and 90 in Siquijor).

In May 2023, SunStar Cebu reported that under the government’s conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, for the poorest of the poor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development had some 76,000 household beneficiaries in Central Visayas (33,859 household beneficiaries in Cebu, 26,742 in Negros Oriental, 14,803 in Bohol and 762 in Siquijor).

Big region, province

According to the PSA’s projections for the population, Central Visayas, with its 8,233,965 people, was the fourth most populated region in the country on July 1, 2023 after Calabarzon, 16,938,893; NCR, 14,262,006; and Central Luzon, 12,891,548.

Cebu (including the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu), with its population of 5,309,212, is the most populated province in the country; followed by Cavite, 4,481,489; Bulacan, 3,822,937; Laguna, 3,496,455; and

Rizal, 3,371,104.

According to the PSA, the population of Cebu Province (excluding the three highly urbanized cities) is 3,425,359; Cebu City, 988,309; Lapu-Lapu City, 492,631; and Mandaue City, 402,913.

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