Thursday, 2 June 2011

Bohol is still poor: is it good news or bad?

For the last three to five years we were made to believe that Bohol indeed leaped out of the poorest provinces. But a new presentation of NSCB, posted in their website in Feb 2011, showed that Bohol, along with Maguindanao, Masbate, Agusan del Sur, Zambo del Norte, Surigao del Norte, is consistently included in the bottom cluster of provinces in 2003, 2006, and 2009. How come this does not make it to the headlines?

When I posted the above opening statement in Facebook and when I brought it up with my friends, I got different reactions, from the lyrical to the absurd.  Atty. John Titus Vistal of the Provincial Planning and Development Office called me up to say that this was a result of methods revision on the part of NSCB. PRMF Provincial Director Rosalinda Paredes emailed me and other interested parties regarding the need to bring the discussion up to the table again. One friend however, told me that this is good for Bohol as this becomes a justification for project proposals on anti-poverty programs.

Honestly, I feel cheated. In the papers I wrote for the last 2 to 3 years, I couched some of my arguments in the context that Bohol was able to reduce its poverty incidence phenomenally (especially when you consider the time frame of achievement). In several conference presentations, in Belgium, in Ireland, among others, I questioned these achievements and put forth counter arguments....only to realize now that we are still, like the conflict-prone provinces in the South, in the bottom 20 of laggards in terms of poverty reduction achievements.

Consider for example, the table below which I presented in the conference in Singapore;
1997
2000
2003
2006
Sulu
Masbate
Zamboanga del Norte
Tawitawi
Masbate
Sulu
Maguindanao
Zamboanga del Norte
Eastern Samar
Romblon
Masbate
Maguindanao
Ifugao
Ifugao
Surigao del Norte
Apayao
Mt. Province
Lanao del Sur
Agusan del Sur
Surigao del Norte
Lanao del Sur
Sultan Kudarat
Surigao del Sur
Lanao del Sur
Romblon
Maguindanao
Misamis Occidental
Northern Samar
Abra
Tawi-tawi
Mt. Province
Masbate
North Cotabato
Abra
Biliran
Abra
Camarines Norte
Agusan del Sur
Lanao del Norte
Misamis Occidental
Davao Oriental
Mt. Province
Camarines Norte
Agusan del Sur
Northern Samar
Capiz
Kalinga
Occidental Mindoro
Agusan del Sur
Camarines Norte
Sulu
Oriental Mindoro
Antique
Eastern Samar
Sarangani
Sulu
Marinduque
Camiguin
Antique
Kalinga
Surigao Del Norte
Marinduque
Palawan
Surigao del Sur
Surigao Del Sur
Lanao del Norte
Sultan Kudarat
Mountain Province
Camarines Sur
Bohol
Abra
Sarangani
Caraga
Catanduanes
Occidental Mindoro
Lanao del Norte
Siquijor
Zamboanga del Norte
Zamboanga Sibugay
Negros Oriental
Table 1. Ranking of Poorest Provinces in the Country – 1997-2006 (Source: NSCB 2006)
(Red – present in list for 4 periods;  Orange – present in list for 3 periods; Rust – present in list for 2 periods)

In the above table, Bohol only registered a place in one year. But in the recent presentation of NSCB, the figure below surfaces:

  
  Table 2. Poverty Ranking Of Provinces Over time (NSCB 2011)

So what does this tell us?


While it is apparent that there is a revision of methodology, Dr. Virola in his presentation contended that


       "In general, poverty estimates using both the old and refined methodologies showed similar trend/pattern. In terms of levels, estimates based on the old methodology were higher than those of the refined methodology."



Why should we bother?



In a paper I wrote in 2007, I argued the following:



"Despite deficiencies in methodology, poverty statistics in the Philippines has recently become not only as a means of identifying the most deprived regions or provinces and the needed interventions, but also as an evaluation tool of the performance of local government units (LGUs).  Thus, it does not only direct attention to what particular areas of the country require intervention, but it also highlights the ability or the failure of certain LGUs to serve the interests of poor people.  When the NSCB releases provincial poverty statistics and ranking of top twenty poorest provinces, this normally becomes a hot media commodity to which LGU leaders are most sensitive.  Thus, inclusion into what is infamously called as the Club 20 (the term that refers to the twenty poorest provinces of the country), is already a cause of alarm to LGU officials who are concerned of their prominence in the political sphere or the support of their constituents."

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

I realize that the implications are circular rather than linear.  Also, the data assuming its veracity, may affect different stakeholders in different ways.  But as a province concerned with making our communities progressive and our constituents endowed with capabilities to realize their dreams, this is a cause of worry and concern. 





6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This does not really do any sense, making Phillipines a progresssive place will make the rest of the places follow. Pointing out to individual provinces would justify nothing since the country is still overall in poverty crisis. Walay mapili although ahead with bohol in terms of infra projects and all but crimes are all over. I would rather stay in the non complicated but peace oriented Bohol.

Anonymous said...

I just now found your illucidating website and am getting hooked. My husband and I are making our way into retiring in Tagbilaran. We hope to venture with the International Deaf Education Association to help in their employment and education projects. My husband is a deaf education specialist currently serving in the DODEA-Pacific, Japan District.

Anonymous said...

I just now found your illucidating website and am getting hooked. My husband and I are making our way into retirement in Bohol. We are planning to venture with the International Deaf Education Association to help in their education and employment projects.

Miko Cañares said...

many thanks. i make it a point to post at least once a month. glad to know that you are planning to spend retirement in the island and contribute to its development. IDEA has several laudable programs and I am a supporter (as a consumer) of their hotel and restaurant.

Forrest Malakoff said...

Hi Miko,
I just found your blog and it is very impressive with lots of valuable information. About the incidence of poverty in Bohol, I do appreciate that there may be methodological issues but is there not another issue about whether the "poverty line", that is the cutoff for being considered "poor" is too low. It is a good measure to use in comparing to other provinces in the country but does it understate the number of people who are actually"poor"? Is the poverty line a realistic measure of who is poor in the Philippines?
Forrest Malakoff

Miko Cañares said...

Hi Forrest, sorry it took a while for me to respond to the comment. For the last five months I was unable to log on to blogger because (well, well, well) I forgot my password.

You are right in questioning the value of the "line" and for raising an important concern. But first I would like to go back to how it is measured.

Poverty measurement in the Philippines uses the cost of basic needs (CBN) approach), in which poverty lines are calculated to represent the money resources required to meet the basic needs of the household, including an allowance for non-food consumption (NSCB 2005). Basic food requirements are defined using area-specific menus comprising of low-cost food items available locally and satisfying minimal nutrition requirements as determined by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (currently equivalent to 2000 kilocalories per capita).

To determine the poverty line, a food menu which is representative of both urban and rural areas of the country is constructed and forms the food threshold. The expenditure patterns of households within the ten percentile in the income distribution are then utilized to determine the poverty threshold which is the cost of minimum food and non-food requirements of every household. (Virola and Encarnacion 2003). The poverty threshold is used to compute the poverty incidence which refers to the proportion of families with income less than the poverty threshold to the total number of families in the population. (NCSB 2005)

Therefore, who are in the line and below it, are not the only ones that matter. The vulnerable people a few notches above the line is not rich at all. Which means the information has to be dealt with in caution in terms of gauging overall well-being.