The government’s inability to look after Mindanao, a vote-rich island visited by politicians only during election campaigns, is home to the country’s poorest provinces, disclosed the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) which said the 10 richest local government units (LGUs) are situated close to the seat of power.
Of the country’s 80 provinces, six of the 10 poorest based on the NSCB survey are in Mindanao, with Sulu topping the list with 63.2-percent poverty incidence. Incidentally, Sulu, whose capital town is Jolo, is the lair of the Abu Sayaff, which is behind the worst terrorist attacks in the country.
A close second is Masbate in the Bicol region, which registered poverty incidence of 62.8 percent, followed by Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which posted 56.5-percent incidence of poverty. In fourth place is Ifugao province, home to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, with 55.6 percent and fifth is Romblon, the country’s richest marble depot, with 55.2-percent poverty incidence.
Maguindanao, another province in the ARMM, is sixth with 55.1-percent poverty incidence. Interestingly, the vote-rich province played host to the world’s worst attack on the media when 57 persons, including 32 journalists were killed in the infamous “Maguindanao Massacre” in 2010. In seventh place is Lanao Del Sur, another ARMM province known for illegal drugs, with 55 percent and in eight place is Socsksargen 54.3-percent poverty incidence.
Camiguin island province in Northern Mindanao is the ninth poorest province pegging poverty incidence of 53.1 percent while Camarines Norte completes the top ten poorest list with poverty incidence of 52.7 percent.
A separate NSCB study shows wealth heavily concentrated in Metro Manila (subdivided into four districts (instead of province) and adjoining provinces with all four metro regional districts landing in the top 10 richest LGUs.
The 10 richest based on poverty incidence or the proportion of families with per capita incomes below the poverty threshold had the second regional district of Metro Manila, which includes the cities of Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City and San Juan, as the richest posting a poverty incidence of only 4.1 percent; followed by the fourth regional district of Metro Manila, which includes the cities of Las Piñas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Taguig and Pateros landing second with a poverty incidence of 4.9 percent. Bulacan, a province in the immediate north of Metro Manila is the third richest with a poverty incidence of 5.4 percent, while the first regional district of Metro Manila, composed of the City of Manila, is the fourth wealthiest with poverty incidence of 5.8 percent. Completing the first five is Batanes, the smallest Philippine province both in area and population, with 7.5-percent poverty incidence. The province also takes pride inm its claim of a zero crime rate. –Fernan J. Angeles, Daily Tribune