Palace blames inflation for decline in Filipino optimism

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2017 01:05 PM | Updated as of May 17 2017 01:22 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - The decline in Filipinos’ optimism over their quality of life and the Philippine economy may be attributed to inflation, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said survey results showing a drop in net personal optimism among Filipinos may be because they were “feeling the pinch” of inflation in March. 

The price of electricity had risen that month as the Malampaya maintenance shutdown affected power supply. Prices of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and LPG also increased. 

“Rest assured that government did everything to stabilize the power supply throughout the country and to manage our inflation rate within the government target,” Abella said in a statement.

The March 2017 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed that 43 percent of respondents expected their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months, while 6 percent expected it to get worse, resulting in a net optimism score of a “very high” +36.

The SWS said the March 2017 net optimism score was 9 points lower than the previous quarter’s “very high” +45, and was the lowest net optimism score since September 2015’s +33.

The SWS survey also revealed almost no change in the number of people who felt either better or worse off.

Results showed that 35 percent of the respondents said their lives had improved compared to 12 months ago (gainers), while 19 percent said they were worse off (losers), resulting in a net gainers score of “very high” +16, unchanged from the previous survey.

“This means that life for Filipinos did not become worse in the two quarters the survey was done,” Abella noted.

The survey also found that 47 percent of the respondents were optimistic that the general Philippine economy next year would get better. Nine percent meanwhile said it would deteriorate, resulting in a net optimism score of a “very high” +38, five points lower than the “very high” +43 in the December survey.

Even as the outlook of Filipinos about their personality quality of life and the Philippine economy declined, Abella said the government would remain focused on “bringing prosperity to all, especially to the disadvantaged and marginalized sectors.”

He cited government programs such as the distribution of free medicine to indigents, higher pension for seniors, increased combat duty pay and combat incentive pay for soldiers and policemen, additional rice subsidy to conditional cash transfer recipients, and the microfinancing system (or pondo sa pagbabago at pag-asenso), which have already been piloted in some areas.