Cabinet official defends Duterte legacy numbers despite 'misleading' claims


Posted at Jan 21 2020 11:41 AM

MANILA—A Cabinet official on Tuesday defended a campaign to show the achievements of President Rodrigo Duterte's 3 years in office despite criticism it made misleading claims to highlight the administration's legacy.

"Yes, they're truthful because they're based on data. Even if you say, pick and choose, of course, you'll always highlight what's the best," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told ANC's "Early Edition."

"Siyempre you have to pick talaga what you wanna say. It depends on what narrative you wanna give to the people. If you dig deeper... it's not as if the data is not available."

An infographic on the Duterte administration's achievements was criticized on social media after it reportedly suggested that the Duterte administration built 64 airports halfway through its term.

Nograles said the administration did not build 64 new airports but worked on 64 airport projects, which include expansion, rehabilitation of runways, and development of facilities.

"64 airport projects. Projects that were done with 64 airports all over the country," he said.

Using figures as of Jan. 9, 2020, the infographic also claimed that the country's unemployment rate was at 4.5 percent, its lowest since 2005.

However, records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in 2019 from 5.3 percent in 2018. The 4.5 percent unemployment rate was recorded in October 2019.

"Basically, what we're telling the people, our messaging, is that it can be done. We hope to be able to bring it down to 3 percent to 5 percent. That's the goal by end of term of the President in 2022," Nograles said.

Another misleading claim in the infographic was the inflation rate, showing that the consumer price index was only at 0.8 percent, "its slowest pace since May 2016."

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that inflation accelerated to 2.5 percent in 2019.

"I guess when they printed that, wala pa tayong complete number for December. Pero tumaas ang December. It's also understandable because its Christmas season and we expect Christmas season to be highest in terms of inflation," Nograles said.

The infographic showed parts of the government's achievements in its campaign against illegal drugs but also omitted the number of drug war deaths.

"Well, deaths are deaths. It's something that, it's not in our culture to really highlight deaths," said Nograles, adding that the Palace is not trying to sweep the issue under the rug.

"But with a small paper like that, you have to highlight what you feel is part of the narrative or the summary you wanna give. But under that summary, all of the data is there," he added.

The Cabinet official said they launched the campaign to dispel misinformation about the Duterte administration's achievements.

"'Yong lumalabas, 'yong paninira na wala kaming ginawa kundi 'yong mga extrajudicial killings, which we hope to correct with this campaign nga," he said.

Nograles said the campaign, which critics also said was too early to present, was a preview of what's to come in the next 3 years under the Duterte administration.

"Parang it's a midterm exam, as far as midterm is concern, tama 'yong direction, tama 'yong indicators natin. This is our guidepost, our measurement," he said.