Albay registers poorest economic performance
By Media Solutions
LEGAZPI CITY — Albay province recorded the poorest economic performance among six Bicol provinces even as Gov. Joey Salceda blamed the calamities that hit his province for its rising poverty incidence as revealed by the latest data released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) recently.
The poverty data showed Albay as being the only province in Bicol region which registered a steady increase in poverty incidence since 2006. It was also one of the only two provinces which registered an increase in poverty for the period 2009 to 2012 from 33.9 to 36.1 , the other one being the province of Catanduanes. Albay was also one of the only two Bicol provinces which exceeded the regional poverty incidence pegged at 34.1. Albay had 36.1 and the other province was Masbate with 44.2. Though Masbate registered a decrease in poverty statistics it remained on the top spot, followed by Albay.
Reached for comment, Salceda said in an email to Media Solutions that the increase was “mainly due to Typhoon Juaning of 2011 which affected 37,000 families in Polangui, Malinao, Oas, and Libon. Families with houses significantly destroyed mounted to 16,000. The 2.2 per cent increase is equal to 4,400 families. Yet due to the anticipated impact, DSWD increased the 4Ps from 11,000 in 2012 to 72,000 in 2013.”
Queried why the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) drastically raised the number of beneficiaries of Pantawid-Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to 72,000 last year when the number of families affected by Typhoon Juaning in 2011 was only 37,000, Salceda replied, “The increase in 4Ps from 11,000 to 70,000 was the response of DSWD to the impact of the Typhoon Juaning and it was not as if the poverty statistics was already clear by then.”
The governor also cited that from “2006-2009, Typhoons Reming (and) Milenyo and two Mayon eruptions” added to the economic woes of Albayanos. During this period Salceda was among the economic advisers of the Arroyo administration and was one of the “select favorites” of then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in terms of fund allocations.
Albay was known locally and internationally as “climate change champion” and has established a Climate Change Academy as testament to its expertise which was supposed to shield its people from the backlash of calamities.
Asked why its purported “expertise” on climate change adaptation failed to protect his people, Salceda replied, “Without the adaptation programs, the poverty incidence would have been much worse-it would have spiked by 7 per cent.”
With optimism, the governor said, “with the forthcoming yearly poverty statistics, I am sure we will see how the absence of typhoons since 2012 combined with the full impact of our economic strategies (shifting to tourism) will reduce poverty by at least 5 per cent in 2013 alone.”
Meanwhile, Camarines Norte chalked up the highest reduction in poverty incidence with 7.7 per cent from 32.4 per cent in 2009 to 24.7 per cent, the lowest in the region. Next in terms of reduction was Masbate with 5.6 per cent drop from with 49.8 in 2009 to 44.2 per cent in 2012, though was not enough to dislodge it from the top rank as having the highest poverty incidence in Bicol. Camarines Sur also scored a 3.7 per cent drop in the number from 37.2 to 33.5 per cent but remained third in ranking while Sorsogon registered a 2.2 per cent reduction from 34.3 per cent to just 32.1 and was on the fourth place. The province of Catanduanes registered the highest increase with 6.8 per cent but remained as having the the second lowest poverty incidence of 27.1 per cent.