Bukidnon poverty incidence worsens; exec blames ‘labor only’ scheme

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 April)— Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri blamed yesterday the rise of the province’s poverty incidence to the “labor only” contractual scheme resorted by agricultural plantations.

Bukidnon’s poverty incidence rose to 43.3 percent in 2012 from 38.8 percent in 2009 and 40.4 percent in 2006, according to the “First Semester Per Capita Poverty Threshold and Poverty Incidence among Families, by Region and Province: 2006, 2009 and 2012” released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) last April 23.

In other words, 43 out of 100 families in the province are poor.

This placed Bukidnon as the 7th in Mindanao and the 13th in the country with the most number of families considered poor in 2012.

Bukidnon ranked 18th in 2006 and 20th in 2009 among the country’s 80 provinces in terms of poverty ranking.

Blaming the “labor only” contractual scheme, Zubiri noted that workers in the agricultural plantations received “very low wages,” although he did not provide figures.

In 2011, he summoned agriculture companies to pressure them against their labor contracting practices in the province, which hosts pineapple and banana plantations.

The provincial board in 2010 also conducted a hearing on labor contractualization, a scheme where manpower agencies supply the labor needs of the agricultural plantations.

Zubiri admitted, however, that the practice has persisted.

In Mindanao, Bukidnon’s poverty incidence was better than the provinces of Lanao del Sur (68.9%), Maguindanao (57.8%), Zamboanga del Norte (50.3%), Davao Oriental (48.0%), Sarangani (46.5%) and North Cotabato (43.9%).

Lanao del Sur has the worst poverty incidence in the country, NSCB data showed.

Bukidnon was among the 12 of 26 Mindanao provinces with increased poverty incidence in 2012. The others were Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Davao Oriental, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Camiguin, Davao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and South Cotabato.

Maguindanao has the highest increase in poverty incidence at 20.2 percent from 37.6 percent in 2009 to 57.8 percent in 2012.

On the other hand, Tawi-tawi had the lowest poverty incidence among Mindanao provinces at 20.8 percent.

The latest report from NSCB used data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the National Statistics Office last July 2012. It measured poverty incidence or the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)