Govt Assailed for Fabricating Mindanao Poverty Figures

Jun. 11, 2006

MANILA The labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has accused the government of again fabricating national statistics to make it appear that the poverty level is declining. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) had said last week that the overall economic improvement had taken 1.6 million Filipinos out of poverty.

“In attempts to cover up the Arroyo government’s extreme neglect over the people’s clamor for economic relief thru wage hikes, price controls and lower cost of petroleum products, the NSCB came up with this preposterous data of lessened poverty level among Muslim minorities. This is a complete lie, nothing but fabrication of data. The data released by NSCB is not reflective of the actual living conditions of the people in Mindanao and the rest of the country,” the group said in a statement.

How can people in poorest areas in Mindanao escape severe poverty when the daily cost of living in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remains the highest within the country at P872? the group asked.

With the current minimum wage rate of P180 in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in Mindanao, there is a shortage of almost P692 in the wages received by Mindanao-based workers. This wage level covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Marawi City, the same areas cited by the NSCB report that were dropped from the list of 10 poorest areas, said KMU secretary general Joel Maglunsod.

He said that despite Congresss deliberate delaying tactics on the approval of the P125 legislated wage increase, workers will continue to press for economic relief. This month, labor unions, urban poor groups and transport organizations will launch a nationwide transport and people’s strike in protest of the ever-increasing cost of petroleum products as oil companies again hiked up prices of diesel, gasoline and kerosene by 50 centavos and LPG prices by one peso per kilogram.

KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Data Bank which said that from January to May this year, oil prices have been overpriced by 40 centavos per liter.

According to Ibon, between January and May, the spot price of Dubai crude jumped from $58.44 to $64.99 per barrel while the value of the peso vis--vis the US dollar improved slightly from P52.58 to P52.13. This means that the ideal price hike during the said period should have only been P3.76 per liter but actual adjustments increased the average retail price of petroleum products by P4.16 or an overpricing of 40 centavos per liter.

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