The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) registered the lowest number of poor households according to the Listahanan 3 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development – Cordillera Administrative Region (DSWD CAR). This accordingly is consistent with the Philippine Statistic Authority’s record showing CAR with the lowest percentage of households living in poverty. The national assessment recorded 45% living in poor households.
Launched last December 6 by DSWD-CAR, the Listahan 3 results showed 17 out of every 100 households in CAR were poor (17%) or 46,702 households (286,989 individuals) out of the 268,141 households assessed. The assessment recorded a higher percentage of males at 53% identified as poor which signifies that women in the region are better off than men.
The Listahan 3 also showed that one percent (1%) of poor individuals are living with physical disabilities, and two percent (2%) are solo parents which is remarkably lower than the national data of 64% of poor households headed by a solo parent.
Of the poor households, 3 out of 4 or 75% belong to Indigenous Peoples.
The Listahan 3 recorded 20% of the poor households have unsanitary toilet, 20% have no access to electricity which is higher than the national data at 16%, and 44% have unsafe water source. Thirty percent (30%) of housing units are vulnerable to disasters, also remarkably lower than the 48% national data.
The Listahan is the government mechanism of identifying poor households who shall be recipients of social protection programs not only of the DSWD but also of other government agencies such as PhilHealth.
Classification of poor households is based on the estimated per capita income that falls below the provincial poverty threshold. The average threshold for poverty in the Cordillera is set at PhP11,793 for a month for a family of 5. The poverty threshold is the minimum income to meet the basic food and non-food requirement.
IBON Foundation, a pro-people economic think tank, however estimated a PhP24,804 monthly income for a family of 5 in the National Capital Region to live a decent life. To share decent food, a family of 5 needs an income of PhP12,977. Taking the National Capital Region’s food threshold and the estimated poverty threshold in the Cordillera region, it can be estimated that the 17% households or 17 of every 100 households assessed to have an income below PhP11,793 belong to households whose income can only support their basic food needs. These households can not support other basic non-food requirement such as education, health and other social needs.
The National Economic Development Authority-CAR attributes the region’s lower poverty incidence compared to the national level on the so-called strong regional economy and steady high employment rate. From the perspective of the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera, the major factor shaping the region’s better poverty performance than the national level is the persisting traditional subsistence agricultural production system. Despite the highly rugged and steep terrain, the rice terraces remain at the core of the sustainable source of living in the Cordillera highlands. For so long as the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples are in control of their agricultural production and food systems, poverty as defined in the national system will remain lower in the region compared to the national performance. Poverty incidence will stay lowest in the region for so long as the factors of agricultural production remain under the collective control of the Indigenous peasants. What is putting the livelihood of the Indigenous peasant households at risk are the numerous extractive projects such as mining and hydropower development.