We would like to clarify recent media reports on NEDA’s statements on the latest poverty statistics released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on March 18, 2016.

In a March 28, 2016 news of Inquirer.net, headlined “Binay camp slams NEDA over poverty statistics”, quoted me as saying during a press conference on the first semester 2015 poverty statistics that “The statistics are actually good. Yes, we can be happy about it.”Inquirer.net’s quotation is terribly incomplete and left out an important part of my response to a reporter’s question. My complete statement, which can be viewed through our official video recording (www.youtube.com/NEDAPhils), is the following:

“As we already mentioned, the statistics are actually good. Yes, we can be happy about it but we should not be satisfied as yet because we still have a long way to go.”

The context of my statement was explained in full during the press conference where the challenges that we confronted as a country between 2012 and 2015 were enumerated, and yet, poverty incidence was reduced.  We also noted the higher growth rate in the incomes of lower 30 percent than among the upper income deciles.  Still, we recognize that poverty persists anda lot more needs to be done and we should not be contented or complacent with the recent decline in poverty numbers.

Furthermore, I never mentioned in the press conference that the robust economic growth under the Aquino administration is“trickling down to the poorest sectors of the society”, a statement which the article also attributed to me. This is contrary to the notion of inclusive growth, which allows the greatest number of the population to participate in and benefit from the growth process, as espoused in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 Midterm Update.

Moreover, in a March 19, 2016 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, an article titled “2M Filipinos living in extreme poverty”, the writer also misquoted me as saying: “As you know, the 4Ps program does not really intend to reduce poverty in the long term because the amount of transfer is only about 20 percent. And for 2015, [it’s targeting] only 15 percent of people below the poverty line. It’s only pantawid (to help tide them over).”

Based again on my actual statement, which at least two other dailies correctly got, what I said was that the 4Ps does not really intend to reduce current poverty but rather to provide the conditions for a robust reduction of poverty in the long-term.  The amount of transfer received is only about 15 percent of the poverty line for the family of size four.  In the short term, however, the regularity of the cash transfer protects the beneficiary from shocks which may result in asset loss. Hence the term “pantawid,” and given the several calamities that happened in the country, this proved very useful to the poor.

We appeal to the Inquirer to be more responsible and careful especially in an election period when statements and even facts can be twisted or spun for political purposes. NEDA works hard to ensure that our analyses and statements are evidence-based and that PSA’s data we use are reviewed and vetted by experts.