BEYOND THE FOUR WALLS:  Poverty incidence and Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 June) – Poverty is among the biggest hurdles for Bukidnon. The provincial government should prepare and present a clear anti-poverty strategy. They need to show results between 2016 and 2019.

Not that they are the only ones responsible for this. Poverty is a national concern as it is a local one.

The officials can check the figures released by the Philippine Statistics Authority in March 2015 for the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES).  Bukidnon poverty incidence among families is 53.6 percent, the fourth highest in the country as of first half of 2015. Clarification: PSA’s Official Poverty Statistics were presented in 14 tables. I used table 1 figures on “poverty incidence among families”. All tables are available online at

Unfortunately, the release of the figures came at a time when everybody was busy on the campaign trail. Poverty incidence could have been used as an election issue, not just to make incumbent officials accountable for their previous term but also to make candidates think how they would address the problem.

In the hope that I can use this for a case study in teaching Macroeconomics and a possible article, I tried my luck on the dizzying figures. I zeroed in my limited study on poverty incidence among families, among many other poverty statistics offered by their data.

Poverty incidence of families, according to the PSA’s technical notes, refers to the proportion of families with per capita income less than the per capita poverty threshold to the total number of families (1997 Philippine Poverty Statistics, NSCB).

If the poverty threshold or poverty line is estimated at P10,969, simply put, those families who have a per capita income below that are “poor”.

“Per capita” or per person indicates that total income in the family is divided by the total number of members even if not all of them are earning. If a family of 10 has five income earners with a total income of P32,000, the per capita income is P3,200.

If there are 1,000 families in a town, the poverty incidence of families is computed by dividing the number of families earning a per capita income of less than P10,969 by 1,000. So if there are 600 families whose income is below P10, 969, it means the town has 60 percent poverty incidence of families.

As of the first half of 2015, the FIES showed that Bukidnon has 53.6 percent poverty incidence among families. For two reasons, it’s hard for now to find the actual count of families, unless we get the projected figures.

First, our latest census figure is for 2010. Second, I don’t have figures for number of families, only households – which are two different things. The FIES pointed this out in its technical notes.

Granting for the sake of illustration that we use the 2010 household count of Bukidnon, at 272,884 with average household size of 4.7, the province’s number of poor families is at 146,266. This is more than half of the total number of families (or households for that matter) in the province, at least as of 2010.

Closest to Bukidnon in the national ranking, number 5, is Siquijor at 53 percent. The only three provinces with worse poverty incidence among families is Lanao del Sur, 70.2 percent; Sulu, 61.8 percent; and Saranggani, 54.5 percent, all in Mindanao. There are 12 provinces in Mindanao which belonged to the top 20 provinces with highest number of poor families as of first half of 2015.

Is this bad? I would rather let the numbers speak for now.

In 2006, Bukidnon’s poverty incidence among families was at 40.4 percent and was no. 19 among provinces with the highest number of poor families. It improved a little bit to 38.8 percent in 2009 with a no. 20 rank. However, it increased to 43.3 percent in 2012 bringing it to no. 13 and then last year it shot up to 53.6 percent, as no. 4.

In Northern Mindanao, only Bukidnon and Camiguin (No.17, 2015) had a straight increase in poverty incidence, both in 2012 and 2015. Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental had rallied back from a higher incidence in 2012 to a lower figure in 2015. In fact, Misamis Oriental had consistently improved its poverty incidence from 2006 to 2015. The MisOr figures: 29.3 percent (2006), 29 percent (2009), 25 percent (2012) and 18.9 percent (2015).

I don’t know what they did in Misamis Oriental. All I know is that, maybe Bukidnon should look at their strategies, too, so it can pull down its poverty incidence.

How was this possible when Bukidnon is seen as a food basket – a resource- and agriculture-rich province? It also projects a “peaceful” environment, at least when compared to No. 1 Lanao del Sur and No. 2 Sulu.
Is PSA accurate in its research? What did the provincial government do to address the problem? We expect answers.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Walter I. Balane teaches journalism and economics at the Bukidnon State University and manages the university’s radio station.)