IBON chief hits gov't lauding 'good' economy while hunger rate rose

IBON chief hits gov’t lauding ‘good’ economy while hunger rate rose

/ 03:15 PM January 24, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in hunger among Filipinos in December last year shows that the country’s economy is not doing as good as it seems, a socio economics group said on Wednesday.

According to Sonny Africa, Executive Director of IBON Foundation, the numbers tell the story – a discrepancy between what the government’s economic managers say and what is actually experienced by regular Filipinos.

“There is indeed a problem if the economic managers keep claiming good economic performance when, at the end of the day, too many people cannot even afford sufficient food,” he told INQUIRER.net in a mix of Filipino and English.


A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Monday revealed that the number of Filipino families who experienced involuntary hunger rose from 9.8 percent in September 2023 to 12.6 percent in December of the same year.


Africa said that this translates to about 3.5 million families based on their raw calculations.

He took a jab at some government officials’ “glorification” of supposedly taming inflation while ordinary families continue to struggle with the high price of commodities in local markets.

“Why would you glorify the supposed slowdown of inflation in December? For me, the issue of lack of food and the insufficient supply of food for many Filipinos is the most significant affirmation that the problem is severe,” he continued.

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Previously, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan noted that the Philippine economy’s growth by 5.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023 showed that the country is the “fastest growing economy in Asia.”

No jobs, low pay


Africa said that one of the main reasons why Filipinos were struggling with hunger is because many of them failed to find jobs that pay sufficiently or even find jobs at all.

“There is a severe shortage of jobs in the Philippines. For those who have jobs, their income is very low for the work they do,” he explained.

The solution to hunger, Africa noted, is to focus on solving the three main factors leading to it: joblessness, low pay, and high prices of goods.

This, however, is in contrast with the statement of Senator Joel Villanueva who lauded the decline of the country’s unemployment rate to 3.6 percent in November 2023 as a sign that the Philippines has “fully recovered” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To this, Africa previously said that millions of unemployed Filipinos may potentially be excluded from the government’s statistics due to how it defines “jobseekers.”

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In an earlier interview, Africa urged the government to be more honest in interpreting and communicating its own statistics, saying that honesty is important to recognize growing problems in the country.

TAGS: Hunger, IBON

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