By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral
LAST QUARTER saw more Filipinos believing the quality of their lives will improve in the next 12 months, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) report that nevertheless showed optimism over economic prospects was weakest in two years, though both readings were deemed “excellent.”
For the survey, SWS interviewed 1,200 adults nationwide from June 23 to 26. The latest poll has sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages, ±4 for “Balance Luzon,” as well as ±6 each for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.
QUALITY OF LIFE AHEAD
Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they expect their quality of life to improve in the next 12 months (“optimists”), while four percent expected it to worsen (“pessimists”), yielding a net personal optimism score of +40, classified by SWS as “excellent.”
That was one grade up and four points more than the “very high” +36 (43% optimists, six percent pessimists) logged in the preceding quarter.
SWS noted that net personal optimism had been “excellent” for five consecutive quarters before the March 2017 survey.
All geographic areas saw marginal increases in this regard.
“Balance Luzon” edged up five points to +42 in June from March’s +37, even as this upgraded the reading to “excellent” from “very high” previously.
It stayed “excellent” in Metro Manila, edging up just three points to +46 in June, as well as “very high” in Mindanao and the Visayas, inching up five points to +37 and by just two points to +36, respectively.
In terms of socioeconomic groups, net personal optimism edged up three points into “excellent” category to +41 in June from March’s “very high” +38 among respondents in class “D”; rose by eight points to a “very high” +37 in June from a “high” +29 in March among those in class “E,” and stayed “very high” among those belonging to “ABC,” inching up just two points to +39.
ECONOMIC OUTLOOK ‘EXCELLENT’ BUT DOWN
The same survey showed 39% of respondents bullish that the general Philippine economy next year will improve, while 12% feeling it will deteriorate.
June survey readings yielded a net optimism score of “excellent” +27 that was nevertheless 11 points less than the first quarter’s “excellent” +38 and was the lowest since June 2015’s “very high” +15.
Net scores stayed “excellent” in all areas despite declines led by Mindanao which gave up 15 points to +34, Metro Manila that lost 12 points to +27, “Balance Luzon” which dropped 10 points to +23 and the Visayas, whose reading declined by seven points to +27.
It also steadied in “excellent” territory across socioeconomic classes despite a fall of 27 points to +22 among “ABC” respondents, 11 points to +27 among those in “D” and seven points to +25 in “E”.
QUALITY OF LIFE STEADIES
Asked on change in personal quality of life from 12 months ago, 37% of respondents said their lives improved (“gainers”) while 19% said they’re worse off (“losers”), yielding a “very high” +17 net gainers score that, SWS said, was “similar to March’s +16 and just two points less than the record-high +19 in September 2016.
SWS attributed the national net gainers score increment to increases in “Balance Luzon” which saw its reading gain nine points to an “excellent” +20 in June from March’s “very high” +11 and in the Visayas where the score stayed “very high” as it gained five points to +19. These gains offset Metro Manila’s 12-point drop to a “very high” +14 in June from March’s “excellent” +26, and Mindanao’s eight-point fall to a “very high” +13 from an “excellent” +21.
Net gainers reading remained “excellent” among respondents belonging to class “ABC”, though just four points up to +27 in June from +23 in March; “very high” among “D” respondents whose reading edged up a point to +18 and “high” in “E”, steady at +9.
SWS said it revised its response classifications as scores in recent surveys have been testing upper thresholds.
“Up to the previous quarter, ‘very high’ has been the highest category for net personal optimism, net economic optimism and net personal gainers, used when their scores are +30 and up, +10 and up, and +10 and up, respectively,” the report explained.
“This was due to the very rare occasions for the said indicators to go as high as the said borderlines.”
The second-quarter survey added the open-ended “excellent” category, applied when net optimism score is at least +40, as well as when net economic optimism and net personal gainers readings are at least +20.
“Very high” now applies to net personal optimism scores of +39 to +39, as well as when net optimism about the economy and net gainers scores range from +10 to +19.
The other categories of “high,” “fair,” “mediocre,” “low” and “very low” stay with their original ranges, SWS added.
Commenting on the survey results, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said in mobile phone message that while Malacañang is “pleased” with SWS findings, “what we need are truly institutional changes.”
“We have significant strides in the first year to ensure the inclusion of the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors,” Mr. Abella said.
“The government has certified as urgent a comprehensive tax reform package that would boost economic growth and infrastructure development while raising spending for the poor,” he added.
“This would lay down a strong foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth to enable our people to achieve their aspiration of a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay.”
University of Santo Tomas political science professor Edmund S. Tayao said in a telephone interview, however, that perceptible drops in net optimism about the economy among geographical areas and socioeconomic classes may be due to uneasiness with the declaration in the last week of May of martial law across Mindanao as militants aligned with the Islamic State took over Marawi City.
“Of course, people expect that, among others, the tourism industry will be the most significantly hit by the declaration of martial law apart from the expected impact on the net production of the region again also resulting from martial law,” Mr. Tayao said.
He also cited “doubts and questions with regard to the proposed tax reform program, which is expected to hit the day-to-day… [life of]… the ordinary worker… optimism definitely will be affected as a result.”