Outgoing Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who is returning to the Senate for a third term, wrongly claimed that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is one of the two poorest regions in the Philippines.
During his three-year term as governor, Escudero said he “discovered” that the national government interfered “too much” in the affairs of local government units (LGUs) as provided under the 1987 Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991:
“May mga nagsusulong ng pederalismo sa ating bansa, samantala ang awtonomiya ni hindi pa nga lubusang naibibigay talaga sa mga lokal na pamahalaan. (There are people pushing for federalism in the country when local governments have not even been given full autonomy).
Question: … Is this enough for you to actually push for federalism or that’s jumping way ahead?
Escudero: That’s jumping way, way ahead … l’ll try to answer briefly without being, say, that I’m opposed to it. Our closest experiment to federalism is CAR — Cordillera [Administrative] Region and BARMM [Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao]. These are the two autonomous regions found in our Constitution. Cordillera hasn’t even been implemented yet. It lost in two or three plebiscites. BARMM, up to last term, we were still trying to perfect it. If we haven’t even perfected autonomy or the closest to federalism in these two regions, [which] remain to be the poorest regions in our country, why will we experiment on it in all of the regions of the country?”
Source: ABS-CBN News official YouTube channel, Dateline Philippines | ANC (6 June 2022), June 6, 2022, watch from 21:56 to 22:55
Escudero said a “lot of work” still needs to be done before a proposal for federalism in the country is considered.
Contrary to Escudero’s claim, the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that CAR is the third region with the lowest estimates of poverty incidence among Filipino families.
In its latest poverty statistics report, the PSA showed that 12.10% of families in CAR failed to earn a minimum income of P14,023 to meet their basic food and non-food requirements from January to June 2021. CAR previously ranked fifth in the First Semester 2018 poverty statistics report of the PSA. The annual poverty statistics for 2021 has yet to be released.
The PSA sourced its data from the first visit of the 2021 Family Income and Expenditure Survey involving 174,007 families spread across 117 sampling domains around the country.
On the other hand, Escudero was correct in saying that BARMM is among the poorest regions. BARMM again ranked No. 1 among the regions with the highest poverty incidence, with 39.4% of families failing to earn a minimum income of P14,126 in the first six months of 2021.
Nevertheless, the PSA said BARMM, formerly known as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, recorded the highest significant improvement from 55.9% of families experiencing poverty in the first semester of 2018 to 39.4% in the first semester of 2021. The National Economic Development Authority attributed the improvement in BARMM to lesser quarantine restrictions and the progress in the peace process in the region.
On a nationwide scale, the PSA said around 18% of Filipino families failed to earn the monthly average income of P12,082 and meet their basic food and non-food needs during the first half of 2021. It estimated that 23.7% or 26.14 million of the population are considered poor.
Among the 17 regions, the National Capital Region and Region IV-A (CALABARZON) again ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, with the lowest poverty incidence in the first semester of 2021.
Editor’s note: An infographic in this article about the figures of poverty incidence per individual/population has been updated.
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Francis “Chiz” Escudero, SINO SI CHIZ, Accessed June 8, 2022
Commission on Elections, Senatorial Summary Statement of Votes by Region (By Rank), Accessed June 8, 2022
ABS-CBN News official YouTube channel, Dateline Philippines | ANC (6 June 2022), June 6, 2022
Philippine Statistics Authority, First Semester 2021 Official Poverty Statistics of the Philippines, Dec. 17, 2021
Philippine Statistics Authority, Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), Accessed June 8, 2022
National Economic Development Authority, STATEMENT ON THE 2021 FIRST SEMESTER OFFICIAL POVERTY STATISTICS, Dec. 17, 2021
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)