NEDA sees poverty incidence to reduce further by 2022

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019   •   222

Filipinos walk past shanties at a slum area in Manila, Philippines, 27 February 2019 (issued 13 June 2019). The metropolitan area of Manila has the largest slum area in the world, home to some four million people, a third of the inhabitants of the city, according to studies conducted by humanitarian organizations. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration is confident that more Filipinos will be able to recover from poverty before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

This, despite the recent report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on the slowdown of poverty incidence in the country in 2018.

Based on the report, almost 6 million Filipinos already have improved their living from 2015 to 2018.

This translates to a 6.7% drop in poverty incidence in the country from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018.

Poverty incidence is the proportion of the poorest population which receives income lower than what they need to support their basic needs such as food, healthcare, and education among others.

According to the government’s estimate, a family of five members should at least earn P10,700 a month to support their food and non-food requirements.

Socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia expressed confidence that before 2022, poverty incidence in the country will further decrease.

“If you let poverty incidence, which is by 16.6% now, drop by 2.23 percent a year, then we will hit I think something like 11 or even less than that,” Pernia said.

The administration believes that job generation and policy reforms such as institutionalizing the conditional cash transfer, unconditional cash transfer, and an intensified family planning program, helped reduced poverty incidence in the country. — MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

US Sen. Durbin renews call for De Lima’s release from detention

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020

US Senator Richard Durbin

MANILA, Philippines – United States Senator Richard Durbin renewed his call for the Duterte administration to release detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima, saying this is an “easy and honorable way forward.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Durbin urged the Philippine government to give De Lima a quick and credible trial instead of threatening the travel of Americans with visa requirements.

“The Duterte regime should stop threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between our nations, and instead ensure a quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima or simply do the right thing and release her,” he said.

Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Philippine government would require all Americans to secure a visa before entering the country should the US government enforce the ban on Filipino officials said to be involved in De Lima’s detention.

The Philippine government also ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny entry to Durbin and Senator Patrick Leahy.

It was Leahy and Durbin who pushed for the inclusion of a provision in the US 2020 budget banning the entry of Philippine officials linked to the detention of the Filipino senator.

Another American senator, Edward Markey, has also been banned from entering the Philippines for filing a resolution calling for De Lima’s release.

De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while she was Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

Panelo reiterated that De Lima’s detention was not a case of political persecution, insisting that the senator was afforded due process and that there is a “probable cause” to issue a warrant for her arrest. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

NEDA Board OKs Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1

Robie de Guzman   •   December 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has given a green light for the construction of the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Friday.

The NEDA Board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, approved the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the project in a meeting held last November 29.

The Board also confirmed in the meeting the earlier approvals for the project given by the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) on July 10 and September 27.

The DOTr said the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment is the first phase of the proposed 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project Loop.

It aims to establish a 74-kilometer at-grade and 26-kilometer elevated (viaduct) commuter railway from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur.

Phase 1 will have eight stations located in Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed gratitude for the project’s approval, saying the move brought the Mindanao Railway Project closer to realization.

“This builds on the dream of President Rodrigo Duterte to generate development in Mindanao through an efficient rail system that will not only move people throughout the island of Mindanao but will also generate needed economic growth,” Tugade was quoted as saying in a statement.

The project’s first segment is designed to accommodate around 130,000 passengers per day in its first year of full operations.

Once fully operational, travel time between Tagum City to Digos City will be reduced from currently 3.5 hours to just 1.3 hours.

Partial operations are targeted by the second quarter of 2022 for the Tagum-Davao line, while full operations for the Tagum-Davao-Digos line will be in the fourth quarter of 2022.

PH Inflation further eases to 0.8% in October

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s headline inflation further eased to 0.8 percent in October, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday.

The PSA said the latest inflation figure is lower than the 0.9 percent recorded in September, and a sharp slide compared to the 6.7 percent in October 2018.

October’s inflation rate is the slowest in more than three years, bringing the year-to-date inflation to 2.6 percent.

Inflation means the rate of increase in prices of goods and services.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said the downtrend in the latest inflation was primarily due to the annual drop in the index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as transportation costs.

Slower increases in rates of water, housing, gas, electricity, and other fuels were also noted, as well as in household equipment and routine maintenance, and health and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services.

Mapa added that rice prices also maintained its year-on-year decline, with a 9.7 percent drop for the six-straight month, while transport expenses also settled lower compared to last year.

Data from the PSA also showed that inflation was higher in Metro Manila where prices of basic commodities increased by 1.3 percent. Prices in regions, meanwhile, moved slower in an average of 0.7 percent.

Malacañang welcomed the slower inflation rate but assured it will continue to monitor the prices of basic commodities especially during the holiday season.

“As inflation continues to drop, the current government will continue to not let its guard down in monitoring the prices of basic commodities, especially now that we are in the ber months, approaching Christmas season,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also welcomed the latest inflation rate, attributing it to the government’s drive and focus in its anti-inflationary efforts this year.

“We hope to further keep inflation manageable and within the government’s target,” NEDA Officer-in-Charge (OIC) and Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion Navarro said in a separate statement.

She, however, warned that the country must be in the lookout for upside risks such as cases of African Swine Fever (ASF), which have been observed so far in Rizal, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite, and Quezon City.

“The livestock industry in the said ASF-stricken areas, which accounts for 21.7 percent of the country’s total hog production last year, remains at high risk. The government and private companies must collaborate to manage, contain, and control the spread of the disease,” Navarro said.

She also urged meat processing plants to enforce more stringent bio-security measures, and expand and place quarantine checkpoints and disinfection facilities in key gateways such as seaports, airports, and expressways.

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