The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) presented a plaque of appreciation to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the conduct of its special session on the 12th National Convention on Statistics. The session dubbed as the “New PMT Model: Improving Targeting of the Poor for Social Protection” was held on October 1 , 2013 at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong City. DSWD Undersecretary Florita R. Villar, who was the session chair, received the award in behalf of the Department.

The session focused on the new proxy means test (PMT) model, which will be used to assess 15.3 million households in the Listahanan second round of assessment. Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction is a DSWD project that makes available a database of poor families which serves as basis for identifying potential beneficiaries of anti-poverty programs.

Population and economic growth expert, Dr. Dennis Mapa, discussed the new features of the model, focusing on its accuracy. These include the addition of community characteristics such as presence of basic infrastructures and establishments and a second stage screener to minimize errors such as inclusion of non-poor among those classified as poor, and a separate sub-model for the National Capital Region (NCR) and the rest of the Philippines.

Dr. Mapa also explained that the new PMT model will use the lower limit of the estimated income range instead of point estimates to compare with the official poverty threshold as basis in identifying the poor. With these enhancements, the inclusion and exclusion error rates of the PMT model declined from 25%-35% to 6.8-19.3%.

Following Dr. Mapa’s presentation, panelists for the session, Director Novel Bangsal of the House of Representatives, Ms. Rochelle San Pedro from Philhealth and Professor Genelyn Sarte of the UP School of Statistics, presented their reactions and comments on the new PMT model and the targeting system.

Director Bangsal discussed the challenges that the DSWD might face in the second round of assessment such as possibility of human error in administering family assessment. “Enumerators are not always objective. Also, some proxies are difficult to verify and responses from household members are not that reliable as well,” commented Bangsal. However, he also acknowledged the important role of community characteristics in determining family income.

Professor Sarte commended the project for having two sub-models for the PMT. “It was a good move having a separate model for NCR. The profile of the poor in NCR is different compared with non-NCR poor,” stated Prof. Sarte. She also urged students and academicians to explore researches that will determine the tolerable amount of inclusion and exclusion errors in the PMT model.

Ms. San Pedro, on the other hand, presented opportunities from the point of view of a data user.

“As data users, we are tilting towards the bias on the poor, to ensure that there will be no poor left behind,” stated San Pedro.

Philhealth, one of the biggest data users of Listahanan, has enrolled all 5.2 million identified poor households in their Sponsored program. In 2014, they will expand their coverage from 5.2 million families to 40.7 million families using Listahanan as basis.

The DSWD also participated in the 2013 Statistical Information Management Exhibit (SIMEX). It showcased the Listahanan database — giving participants household level information on the 5.2 million identified poor households. ### (written by Krupska Lenina Apit, DSWD – Central Office)