Results of a nationwide poll of 1,200 adults conducted from June 24 to 27 showed 57% of respondents saying they want the Marcos administration to take “immediate steps” to control inflation. Other top-of-mind concerns for Filipinos were workers’ pay hikes (45%), poverty reduction (33%), and jobs creation (29%).
Respondents were allowed to identify three problems that they believe President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must urgently solve. Out of the 57% Filipinos who included rising prices in their survey responses, 29% of them ranked inflation as the top national concern that the new government should tackle first, trumping other problems with corruption, law enforcement and pandemic response.
Government data showed inflation sizzled 6.1% year-on-year in June, the hottest in over three years, as supply chain disruptions brought by the pandemic are worsened by a crashing peso, which has been exacerbating imported inflation amid motoring global energy prices.
For this year, the Marcos Jr. administration’s economic team admitted that the government would likely miss its 2-4% annual inflation target. They said it is only in 2024 that inflation is forecast to return to the state’s target.
So far, the economic team has yet to present clear-cut plans to choke off rapid inflation. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla, meanwhile, said the central bank is prepared to pull the trigger on its first 50-basis-point rate hike since 2018 when the Monetary Board meets in August.
There are discussions about continuing the ongoing cash aid and fuel subsidies implemented by the Duterte administration to help the poor withstand the sting of elevated prices, although fiscal constraints could force Marcos to stop the programs next year. Economic managers are also hoping for a more sustained economic rebound in 2023.
But with inflation woes not expected to go away anytime soon, Pulse Asia reported that expensive consumer items are the top concern in all geographical areas, especially in the National Capital Region (47.2%), as well as in Classes D and E (38.4% and 52.3%, respectively).
For those in Class ABC, the priorities of the new president should be providing jobs or other sources of income (30.7%), reining in inflation (26.3%), and addressing issues concerning the agricultural sector (14.2%).
Sought for comment, Anthony Lawrence Borja, political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said the impact of inflation on Marcos’ popularity would depend on five “intertwined” factors.
First, “the presence or absence of a clear and concrete plan that can reduce the fears of the public while giving the impression of government activity; (2) the actual and projected impacts of such policies; (3) the aggravation or alleviation of external pressures like the war in Ukraine on the global supply chain,” Borja said.
He added that the extent of damage that inflation may inflict on public perception on Marcos would also depend on “(4) inflation spilling into other areas of human security like poverty and food security; (5) and the availability of ‘scapegoats’ that the Marcos administration and its propagandists can eventually blame for the possible failure to stabilize or reduce inflation.”