LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 8 (PNA) – The flaws in last year’s count and initial validation of Bicol’s poor families conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are now undergoing corrective measures, according to the agency’s regional office here.
DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Monday said his office had received a total of 213,586 complaints, representing the errors, after the preliminary validation result of the enumeration of about 1.1 million households regionwide was posted in barangay bulletin boards for public scrutiny as part of the authentication process.
This process provides an opportunity for the review of the draft list of poor where wrong entries -- spelling of names, birthday, address and others as well as the inclusion of those households not visited during the regular enumeration, entertained appeals and/or complaints so that corrections were made before it was officially finalized, he said.
Of the 1,056,722 households enumerated and assessed during the five-month period from May to September last year in 3,471 barangays covered by 107 cities and municipalities within all the six provinces of the region, an initial total of 410,186 was identified as poor — a figure that could still be altered after verifying the complaints that emerged.
Garcia said the complaints included household claims that they were poor and should be included in the list, certain households that should not be on the list, households not visited by enumerators, complaints for incorrect data entry in the family assessment form and incomplete lists that do not represent the actual number of poor households in the community.
So far, he said, 93 percent, representing a total of 197,902 complaints, had already been re-assessed, and concluding results would soon be available so that by this month, the final and official list of Bicol’s poor is completed.
The Listahanan is the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), a project now on its second round being undertaken by the DSWD nationwide to come up with an updated information management system that aims to establish a database of poor households which identifies who and where they are.
This second round assessment, Garcia said, applies new features in the conduct of identifying the poor to minimize if not totally prevent errors in the inclusion and exclusion process experienced by the first one.
The new features include the application in the Proxy Means Test (PMT) of two sub-models -- one for the National Capital Region and one for all other regions -- that would make community variables as determinants of poverty status.
A second stage screener to flag possible inclusion errors or non-poor being included in the list of poor has also been applied and with these enhancements and the combined inclusion and exclusion, error rates declined from 22-35 percent in the old model to 6-19 percent in the new model, Garcia said.
Through these, a new batch of poor families has been identified and becomes candidate for government and non-government social protection programs as the official list is shared with data users to serve as their guide in selecting beneficiaries.
The new assessment also enables the DSWD to track changes or developments in the lives of poor households who were identified in the previous assessment as the finalization of the new list involves the forming of a Local Validation Committee that acts on complaints and appeals, he said.
By far, draft results of the latest survey indicate a dramatic drop in the number of poor families in the region compared to the first NHTS-PR which local government leaders and observers attribute to both natural and man-made influences.
While the first one, also conducted by the DSWD in 2009, recorded a depressing figure -- 59.5 percent or 461,242 families of the 775,014 households assessed were poor, the 2015 assessments initially showed only 38.9 percent or 410,186 of the 1,056,722 households are poverty-stricken.
Mayor Noel Rosal, of this premier Bicol city recognized as the region’s tourism capital and fast emerging as the Southern Luzon’s business center, said that “first of all, this improvement is a work of nature which spared us from strong typhoons for nine years until the early part of 2015.”
It could be one of the good impacts of climate change insofar as the region is concerned because all super typhoons that entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility during this nearly a decade period have spared the area, once known as the “path of tropical storms”.
The last devastating scenario was during typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" which successively battered the region in the late part of 2006 as severely as it is was the doomsday -- killing hundreds of people, leaving homeless thousands of families, toppling power supply facilities, infrastructures and other major installations and destroying billions of pesos worth of farm crops and livestock.
What is also impressive, according to Regional Director Agnes Espinas of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), is the peculiarity of Bicolanos in refusing to go down on their knees amid those disasters and raising fast silently sans much howl and protest.
The favorable weather, this outstanding trait of Bicolanos bolstered by the change in national administration in 2010 which introduced inclusive economic growth, the putting into practice of countryside development, restoration of peace in rural barangays, the various poverty alleviation interventions and the upsurge in private investments are among the important factors affecting this poverty rate fall, she said.
“Today, good life does not only continue to bloom in Bicol after those past decades of disasters, government neglect, fears from the raging insurgency war and extreme poverty that confined it in the cellar among regions but it also has been getting livelier and continues to nourish its booming economy and explore more opportunities to rise high,” Espinas noted.
This city, she said, is among the top economic development gainers by making it to the latest listing of Bicol cities and municipalities with lower incidence of poverty owing to the tremendous performance of its tourism industry.
The listing, which was recently released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistics Authority based on the project on the generation of the 2012 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates, says that poverty incidence in 88 of the 114 municipalities and the seven cities of the region declined between 2009 and 2012.
Legazpi is mentioned in the NSCB list as the only city in Bicol to be among the top 10 municipalities and cities with the largest reduction in poverty incidence.
These improvements lifted Bicol from the rank of 4th to 7th among the country’s poorest regions, with Masbate, earlier ranked as among the 10 poorest provinces, graduating from the circle in 2012 owing to the reduction of political violence and tourism industry advancement.
Such statistics is reinforced by another listing recently made by the National Anti-Poverty Commission identifying the Top 10 provinces in the Philippines that have the highest poverty incidence among families from 2006 to 2012 -- not any of Bicol’s six included. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/EBP