Strong economy? Makabayan downplays Marcos’ claim of economic gains
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc have downplayed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s claim of economic gains, saying that the country has been facing a bad inflation spate since 2022.
According to Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, Marcos tried to make it appear that the Philippines is in a much better state under his administration, but inflation numbers have risen to 14-year-high levels.
Headline inflation rate for December was at 8.1 percent in December 2022 — the highest since November 2008. It has receded in recent months however, tapering down to 5.4 percent in June 2023.
“President Marcos Jr. tried to paint a picture of a strong economy in the Philippines despite the rising prices of food and basic commodities. Ordinary Filipinos are facing inflation rates that haven’t been seen in 14 years, high prices amid low wages, and yet the president claims that it is all under control,” Brosas said.
“Ito na ba ang Bagong Pilipinas na ibinibida ng pangulo? ‘Tila Bangungot na Pilipinas ang hatid ng gobyerno. Hindi binanggit ang P14 trillion na utang gobyerno, mumong sahod ng mga manggagawa, at panibagong dagdag buwis sa ilalim ng panukalang Digitax, Excise Tax on Plastic Bags, at iba pa,” he added.
(Is this the new Philippines that the President is proud of? It seems more of a “Nightmare Philippines” from the government. The P14 trillion debt of the government was not mentioned, along with the small salary of workers, the additional taxes on digital products, excise taxes on plastic bags, and others.)
Despite the mention of several issues in the country, Brosas scored the President for being mum on human rights concerns.
“His second SONA is eerily silent on the abysmal state of human rights under his reign — no mention of aerial bombings, strafing and forced displacement of communities across the country. Walang banggit sa tuluy-tuloy na militarisasyon maging ng mga syudad gaya ng ginagawa sa Tondo, at nagpapatuloy na pagtugis sa mga aktibista at ordinaryong mamamayan,” she claimed.
(There was no mention of continuous militarization in the cities like in Tondo, and the continuous plight of activists and ordinary citizens.)
“Bago magsalita ang Pangulo ngayong araw, dumagsa ang libo-libong Pilipino sa lansangan upang manawagan na ibasura ang Maharlika scam, magkaroon signipikanteng dagdag sahod, mapababa ang presyo ng bilihin, at wakasan ang matinding paglabag sa karapatang pantao. But unsurprisingly, these calls were set aside by President Marcos Jr., choosing to downplay the dwindling state of our country,” she added.
(Before the President talked today, thousands of people flocked the streets to call for the junking of the Maharlika scam, a significant salary increase, lower price of goods, and the ending of rights abuses.)
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro meanwhile said that it appears the President did not pinpoint the source of the problem regarding high prices of goods.
“Di pinuntirya ang tunay na pinakamayor na dahilan ng taas-presyo sa agrikultura at batayang bilihin na sanhi ng importation at buwis gaya ng sa mga produktong petrolyo. Pinagmalaki pa nyang bumaba daw presyo gasolina tataas nga bukas at malaki na ang itinaas nito mula Enero ngayong taon,” Castro said.
(They did not focus on the primary reason for price increases in agriculture and baseline goods due to importation and excise taxes on oil. He bragged about lower prices of fuel but there would be a price hike tomorrow.)
“Wala ngang sinabi sa sahod at benepisyo ng mga manggagawa at mga guro. Sa esensya, puro ampaw na pagmamalaki sa mga nirebrand na mga lumang proyekto ng kanyang amang diktador tulad ng paggamit sa Maharlika, Kadiwa, Bagong Pilipinas at iba pa pero kulang naman sa mga substansyal na mga hakbang sa mga pangunahing kahilingan ng mamamayan tulad ng pagpapababa sa presyo ng mga serbisyo at bilihin, signipikanteng pagtaas ng sahod, hustisya sa mga biktima ng EJK at red tagging at paglaban sa kurapsyon,” she added.
(He didn’t talk about salaries and benefits of teachers. In essence, they have been rebranding old projects of his father, like the use of Maharlika, Kadiwa, Bagong Pilipinas, and others but it lacks substantial steps to the demands of the people.)
Marcos extensively discussed economic gains registered under his term, saying that the country remained in a stable position despite external shock and conflict in other countries.
According to the President, while the country reeled from the effects of high prices of basic goods, the administration’s economic team worked out solutions which eventually led to a downtrend in headline inflation rates.
“Inflation rate is moving in the right direction. From 8.7 percent in January, our inflation has continued to decrease in all regions settling now at 5.4 percent June. What this means is that in spite of all the difficulties we are transforming the economy. We are stabilizing the prices of all commodities,” Marcos said.
“Inflation is expected to decrease further by the close of year, and projected at 2.9 percent by 2024,” he added.
Marcos’ allies in Congress also claimed that the President’s statement was clear: according to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the country is being acknowledged for the ability to be the best-performing economy in the region.