INFLATION and salaries are the top concerns of Filipinos across all regions and social classes, polling firm Pulse Asia said, citing the results of a survey.
“Amidst the soaring prices of basic goods, a sizeable majority of Filipinos (63%) say inflation is an issue that the Duterte administration must immediately address,” Pulse Asia said in its latest Ulat ng Bayan report, adding that the finding cuts across “all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes (53% to 66% and 52% to 65%, respectively).”
Also, 50% of respondents “consider the need to increase the pay of workers as an urgent national concern — a sentiment expressed by majorities in Metro Manila (55%), the Visayas (59%), and Class ABC (52%).”
Pulse Asia said its survey was conducted on Sept. 1-7 and respondents were subjected to face-to-face questioning.
Asked for comment at a Palace briefing, the president’s spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in Filipino that the government has “taken note of these concerns about prices” and that “the president is not sleeping on the problem.”
He noted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed last week four orders to help improve the movement of farm products to market. “We are confident that these measures will take effect soon,” he said.
According to the Pulse Asia, poverty reduction (32%) and job creation (30%) are the “third urgent national concerns.”
“Fighting graft and corruption in government (26%) and combating criminality (23%) comprise a fourth set of issues deemed urgent by Filipinos while a fifth group of urgent national concerns includes promoting peace (14%), protecting the environment (13%), reducing the amount of taxes paid by citizens (12%), and enforcing the rule of law (11%).”
“In September 2018, Filipinos are least concerned about the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (6%), rapid population growth (6%), terrorism (5%), national territorial integrity (5%), and charter change (3%). None of these issues are considered urgent by a majority across geographic areas and socioeconomic groupings,” it added.
On charter change, Mr. Roque said: “Well, of course, right now, the foremost priority of the administration is fighting inflation. So everything is sidelined now… We will get there, but we also know that there should be more discussions, studies, and information dissemination efforts on federalism.”
Pulse Asia also noted in its report that “Filipinos’ sense of urgency as far as the 15 national issues included in the survey probe are concerned (was) practically constant during the period June to September 2018.”
It added that “the only notable changes are the increase in the level of concern regarding inflation (+12 percentage points) and the decline in the level of concern about job creation (-9 percentage points). Year-on-year, public concern becomes more pronounced when it comes to such issues as workers’ pay (+8 percentage points) and inflation (+13 percentage points) while it eases in relation to the issues of peace (-7 percentage points) and criminality (-13 percentage points).”
Mr. Duterte’s administration enjoys majority approval ratings on its handling of 10 out of the 12 national concerns listed by Pulse Asia in its survey. But it also noted that the administration’s approval ratings have “declined across all 12 issues during the period June to September 2018.”
“The most marked decline is recorded on the issue of poverty reduction (-16 percentage points) while the least pronounced one occurs on the issue of criminality and peace (both at -5 percentage points). With regard to the top urgent national concerns of Filipinos (i.e., inflation and workers’ pay), the incumbent administration’s approval scores decreased by 14 percentage points,” the report said.
On “disapproval for the work done” by the administration, it has become “more pronounced on the issues of creating more jobs (+5 percentage points), fighting corruption in government (+6 percentage points), increasing the pay of workers (+10 percentage points), reducing poverty (+16 percentage points), and controlling inflation (+22 percentage points).”
Among those reporting that they were undecided, “it has become more manifest when it comes to the Duterte administration’s efforts to protect the environment (+5 percentage points), create more jobs (+5 percentage points), protect OFWs (+6 percentage points), defend national territorial integrity (+6 percentage points), enforce the rule of law (+8 percentage points), and respond to the needs of areas affected by calamities (+10 percentage points). The only decline in the level of indecision toward the administration’s performance is recorded on the issue of inflation (-7 percentage points),” Pulse Asia added. — Arjay L. Balinbin