Koronadal City, South Cotabato –  Region XII or the SOCCSKSARGEN Region recorded a significant decline in the poverty incidence among its population at 7.4 percentage points, from from 44.7 percent in 2012 to 37.3 percent in 2015.   The reduction in the region’s poverty incidence, however, was not enough to meet its Millennium Development Goal of 23.4 percent in 2015. The drop in poverty incidence was noted in three (3) of the region’s four (4) provinces.  It declined to 24.6 percent in South Cotabato, 41.4 percent in Cotabato Province, and 48.0 percent in Sultan Kudarat.  In Sarangani, however, it grew to 55.2 percent.  Meanwhile, the poverty incidence of Cotabato City, an independent component city, declined to 31.6 percent.

The report on the region’s poverty incidence was presented by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) during its press conference on the 2015 Full Year Official Poverty Statistics  in Quezon City on October 27, 2016.

The reduction in Region XII’s poverty incidence reflected similar trend in the entire country, which saw the total proportion of poor population dropping to 21.6 percent in 2015 from 25.2 percent.

While its poverty level among its population was still considered high, Region XII, together with Davao Region or Region XI, recorded the largest reduction in poverty incidence in the entire country.  CALABARZON or Region IV-A breached the double-digit level, cutting down its poverty incidence level to 9.1 percent.

In the  statement of NEDA Deputy Director General Rosemari G. Edillon, as delivered by Director Reynaldo R. Cancio of the NEDA National Policy and Planning Staff, she attributed the good performance of the country in improving its poverty situation to generally low and stable inflation rate, improved incomes, and higher employment rates during the period.  Major poverty reduction programs of government, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), also significantly augmented the income of the poorest households and accorded the beneficiaries some resiliency to weather certain shocks.

The rate of poverty reduction could have been faster, if not for major shocks brought by the natural calamities, such as intermittent typhoons and the El Niño which adversely affected agricultural production, rural incomes and food prices.

DDG Edillon, emphasized that there is still a lot of work ahead to keep the momentum of reducing the country’s poverty, especially to the lagging regions in Mindanao and the agriculture sector.  In addition, to sustain the improved status of poverty incidence througout the country,  it is important that government influence the business climate to create more job opportunities, boost competitivenes of the productive sectors, improve access to financing, ease restrictions on foreign investments, reform in agricultural policy like focusing on food security instead of self sufficiency, and safety nets for farmers who may be potentially displaced.

The foregoing recommendations are expected to be considered in the crafting the Philippine Development Plan, 2017-2022 at the national level and the Regional Development Plan at the regional level.  As per directive of the President, the plan shall be guided by the long-term vision of the country which is AmBisyon Natin 2040, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the 0+10 Agenda of the Duterte Administration which shall lay the foundation for the Filipino to enjoy a “matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay.” (Evie A. Cabulanan, NEDA XII-DRD)