The Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII recently welcomed the substantial decrease in the poverty incidence of Eastern Visayas during its 4th Quarter Meeting on 11 December. The 2018 full year poverty incidence among population was at 30.9 percent, a 10.3 percentage point drop from the 41.2 percent in 2015.

“The decrease is [significant] given the pervasive problem of poverty in the region,” RDC VIII Acting Vice-Chairperson and NEDA VIII OIC-Regional Director Meylene C. Rosales said.

The huge reduction in poverty was mainly attributed to the increase in wage and salary incomes, particularly among the poorest households. The strong income growth was partly an effect of the adjustments in the income taxes pursuant to the TRAIN Law. The region’s improving labor market conditions, as evidenced by the sustained increase in employment rate and remarkable deceleration of the underemployment rate, was also a contributory factor. Moreover, the continued implementation of labor-enhancing and income-enriching programs and projects in Eastern Visayas such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps), Social Pension Program, and Sustainable Livelihood provided much-needed cash assistance and livelihood to the poorest sectors of society.

Despite the significant drop, the region still remains one of the poorest in the country.

Eastern Visayas ranked as the third poorest region in the country just behind Region IX (32.7%) and ARMM (61.3%) who ranked first and second, respectively.

Regardless, outlook for the region seems bright.

All of the provinces recorded huge reductions in poverty incidence with Biliran having the lowest poverty incidence among population at 19.75 percent, followed by Southern Leyte (23.60%), Leyte (28.61%), Samar (29.05%), Northern Samar (34.03%), and Eastern Samar (49.54%).

“Although we are still the third poorest, the result of 2018 survey is good news. The challenge is to sustain development despite vulnerabilities,” said Acting Vice-Chair Rosales. Towards this end, she strongly enjoined the Council members to continue working hard together.

The news comes as the national poverty incidence decreased from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018. The Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA) defines the poor as individuals living below the poverty threshold of P24, 979 annually.

Article by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII
Photo by:  Stock photos