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Villarin questions PSA figures: PH poverty threshold ‘insults common sense’

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Philippine Statistics Authority figures showing that a family of five only needs no less than P10,481, on average, to meet both basic food and non-food needs for a month “insults common sense and provides a distorted perception of reality,” Akbayan party-list Rep Tom Villarin said on Wednesday.

“It seems that government statisticians treat poverty as mere figures they can play with,” the opposition lawmaker said in a statement.

“You can’t reduce human dignity to pesos and centavos. It’s an insult to our common sense and shows a distorted perception of reality just to paint a bright picture for us to believe,” Villarin said.

PSA Assistant Secretary Josie Perez, according to the congressman, justified such figures by saying that when a family has that amount, it means that it can buy its basic food and non-food needs, however, it does not mean that the family is not poor.

But VIllarin was not convinced.

“It’s high time we debunk these statistical indicators and define poverty threshold as what it should be — living a decent life based on holistic needs, not just having that bag of goods and services with price tags,” he said.

The computation has been debunked by no less than Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia who clarified last year that an average Filipino family would actually need an aggregate income of P42,000 to live above the poverty line,” he said.

This is based on the assumption that a household has two family members earning P21,000 each per month which, under the TRAIN law, exempts them from paying income tax, Villarin said.

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