Pandemic forces millions into poverty in Philippines

The extent of this achievement was greatly reduced, however, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions of 2020 coupled with a long-running issue of poor households. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The period of 2018-2021 saw about 2.3 million people in the Philippines pushed into poverty, mainly owing to the economic downswing caused by the pandemic, the statistics agency said on Monday.

The global number of impoverished people rose to almost 20 million or 18.1 percent of the population in 2021 from 16.7 percent in 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, overshooting the government's target of 15.5-17.5 percent.

The recently inaugurated President Ferdinand Marcos Jr – son of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr who ruled the Philippines for nearly 21 years – makes it his ambition to slash the poverty rate to nine percent by the end of his single six-year term in 2028. According to Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, such a target remains achievable despite soaring inflation.

The way for achieving this goal is for his government to focus on fully reopening the economy, investing in human capital and social protection, transforming production sectors to boost their output, as well as quality jobs and competitive products.

We can reduce poverty incidence by five percentage points at midterm, and another four percentage points by 2028,” Mr Balisacan told a media briefing.

Defining poverty as including those Filipinos whose per capita income cannot sufficiently meet individual basic food and non-food needs, the PSA releases its statistics every three years.

Mr Balisacan went on to say that before the pandemic, in 2018, the country had achieved its goal of helping six million Filipinos out of poverty, four years ahead of a 2022 target.

The extent of this achievement was greatly reduced, however, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions of 2020 coupled with a long-running issue of poor households. These phenomena limited access to regular and productive jobs and reintroduced many Filipinos into difficulty.

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