DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Various labor groups and individuals have denounced as “misleading and unrealistic” the statement of a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) official that the living standard for a Filipino family of five is P10,000 a month.
In a statement on Wednesday, labor NGO Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) pointed out that NEDA’s intent on releasing such hypothetical figure is questionable.
“NEDA’s figures are misleading and unrealistic. In fact, the figures are contradictory to some of the data NEDA and PSA had released prior,” said Rochelle Porras, EILER executive director.
NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon on Tuesday said the living standard of a Filipino family of five is only P10,000 a month. Out of which only P3,834 are needed for food or P127 a day.
Edillon also said a family of five would only incur a P459 increase in its monthly expenses because of inflation.
Edillon later clarified that the number was just a “hypothetical figure,” and that they have yet to finish their study on how much is a decent budget for a family to live with.
Prior to this, the NEDA also reported that the inflation, or the rate of increase in prices of basic goods, was 4.6 percent in May. They attributed the high inflation to higher prices of fish and seafood, fuel and lubricants, as well as bread and cereals.
But EILER stressed that while the cost of living rises, the monthly poverty threshold remains at P9,140. It said the food threshold is at P6,365 per month for a family of five or P42.43 per family member.
These figures, the labor group added, are inadequate for formal and informal workers suffering from extreme poverty and high cost of basic goods. At home, informal women workers are burdened to augment family income in order to work around their inadequate household budget.
‘Try living on a 10k monthly budget’
Enraged over NEDA’s statement, progressive lawmakers dared the economic managers of the Duterte administration— Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Sec. Benjamin Diokno, Department of Finance (DOF) Sec. Carlos Dominguez and Socioeconomic planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia— to try for themselves if the P10,000 monthly budget is indeed sufficient.
“You are outrageously and shamelessly out of touch from reality,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.
“We challenge President Duterte’s economic managers to try and live within their P10,000 sample budget for a family of five and still tell those families that they are not poor and are already living above the poverty threshold,” ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro said.
Zarate also hit the Duterte administration’s economic managers for “brazenly downplaying the harsh effects of the TRAIN law on the prices of goods and services.”
“Sila kaya ang mabuhay na sampung libo lang ang budget para sa kanilang pamilya. Nasubukan na ba nila ito? Bumaba muna kayo sa inyong kinatuntungang matayog na pedestal at subukan munang pagkasyahin ang P10,000.00 ng kahit anim na buwan tapos saka kayo magsalita,” he said.
‘Agricultural workers hardest hit’
EILER meanwhile said agricultural workers are the hardest hit by poverty, earning only P245 per day (Region VIII) which is only about 20 percent of much needed living wage.
Aside from this, they also suffer from land grabbing, unemployment, rampant flexible forms of labor, slave-like working conditions, homelessness, and lack of effective social protection programs.
“Generational poverty and the worsening rate of joblessness in the country bolstered by contractualization and other labor flexibilization schemes further press down workers’ wages,” the group said.
The labor NGO also said that NEDA should listen to the legitimate demands of the workers and show realistic figures, saying a “misleading computation of what is a decent household budget does nothing to address the root cause of poverty.”
“We urge the Duterte administration to prioritize bills focusing on strengthening constitutional rights of workers such as House Bill 1045 or the Regular Employment Bill and Senate Bill 1317 or the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act and the newly filed House Bill 7787 or the National Minimum Wage Bill,” Porras concluded. (davaotoday.com)