By Leslie Ann Aquino
For the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, a family of five needs at least P20,000 a month to live decently.
“It must be P20,000 monthly or P250 per day for food for a family of five,” Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said in an interview.
A P20,000 per month family income, he said is Caritas Manila’s “benchmark” to consider a family out of poverty.
“That’s decent living,” said Pascual.
With P20,000 monthly or P250,000 per annum, he said one cannot be considered rich nor poor.
“Unfortunately 90 percent of working Filipinos are earning less than P20k monthly (DE economic class). ABC is only 10 percent of the population,” Pascual said.
The priest also explained that their paradigm is different from that of the government when it comes to decent family living standard.
“We respect NEDA. It’s a matter of paradigm. The Church’s paradigm is different especially Caritas re decent family living standard. The government is minimalist. We are balanced, idealist and realist and living with dignity,” said Pascual.
An official of the National Economic Development Authority earlier said that the living standard for a Filipino family of five is P10,000 a month. Out of which only P3,834 are needed for food or P127 a day alone.
Such statement drew flak from labor groups such as the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) saying the amount does not reflect the reality of the majority of Filipinos who are poor.
NEDA later explained that what they showed was how a hypothetical monthly budget of Php10,000 will be affected by a 4.6-percent inflation rate.
Meanwhile, a cost of living survey by labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) found that a family of five in the National Capital Region needs P1,300 daily or P39,000 monthly to live decently as of May 2018.
In PM’s own study, P3,150 monthly is needed to buy daily 2.5 kilos of the cheapest commercial rice at P42. Of the P39,000 monthly budget, 44% is earmarked for food and 56% for non-food items. Utilities like electricity, water, and cooking gas make up 8%, house rent 15%, transportation expenses 11% and education needs 13% of the total budget.
“Our cost of living study is, in fact, an underestimation as it does not provide for leisure and recreation, savings or social security which should comprise 10% as a standard or for a house help which is a necessity if the government insists that both parents must work to sustain the family,” Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, said in a statement.
PM is calling for a substantial wage hike and national minimum wage as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte. The group is supporting pending bills calling for a national minimum wage of P750 to P800.