Working Paper
The Excluded Poor

How Targeting Has Left out the Poor in Peripheral Cities in the Philippines

Constrained by resource limitations and challenged by the increasing incidence of poverty in the country, the Philippine government embarked on an anti-poverty programme that sought to identify where the poorest people were, what were their specific needs, and how government and other stakeholders (e.g., non-government organizations, international development agencies, and the private sector) should respond to their pressing concerns. Despite deficiencies in methodology, poverty statistics in the Philippines have recently become not only as the means of identifying the most deprived regions or provinces, but also as a weather vane that points to where resources and efforts need to be directed and how these are to be spent. This paper scrutinizes the gains of this approach with particular reference to the urban poor in two cities: Butuan, the capital city of Agusan del Norte, once home to the largest logging operations in Mindanao, and Tagbilaran, the capital of the tourist province of Bohol. The study concluded that the poor in the cities in the periphery are sidelined by two different trends. On one hand, their needs and concerns are prioritized less because of a poverty targeting framework that dictates how development interventions are to be pursued and how development funds are allocated. On the other hand, their needs and concerns oftentimes are underinvested because of their relative low significance as an urban centre in comparison to other cities. If these trends continue, the future of cities, particularly those located in the peripheries of an archipelagic country like the Philippines, will become increasingly characterized by added poverty and vulnerability.