MANILA – Around 5.9 million Filipinos came out of poverty between 2015-2018, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor by four points in the country, according to official data published on Friday.
This period largely represents the first half of tenure of the government led by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
During this period, the poverty index fell by 2.23 points to 16.6 percent, the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) said.
The figures show that 17.6 million Filipinos – around three million families – still live below the poverty line, set at 10,727 pesos ($210) per month, which the PSA considers necessary to meet the basic needs of a family of five.
Of these, 800,000 families live in extreme poverty, without enough money to buy sufficient food, with less than 7,528 pesos per month.
According to the statistics, the gap between the rich and the poor also fell from 25.1 percent in 2015 to 21.8 percent in 2018.
The data represents a “significant progress” and puts Philippines on track to deliver on Duterte’s promise to reduce poverty to 14 percent by the end of his term in June 2022 and eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement.
“The sustained implementation, expansion, and enhancement of the government’s social assistance programs provided additional income to the poorest sectors of the society,” NEDA Undersecretary for Regional Development and Officer-in-Charge Adoracion Navarro said during a press conference.
The highest poverty levels are still concentrated in the Bangsomoro region and the islands of Sulu and Basilan, in the area known as Muslim Mindanao where development has been hampered by decades of armed conflict with rebel and militant groups.