Philippine economy

Marcos’ disbelief over high inflation ‘misunderstood,’ says Diokno

Ralf Rivas
Marcos’ disbelief over high inflation ‘misunderstood,’ says Diokno

BRIEFING. Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno speaks to reporters on July 6, 2022.

RTVM video screenshot

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno seeks to clarify what President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meant when he said he disagreed with the inflation figure released by the Philippine Statistics Authority

MANILA, Philippines – Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday, July 6, clarified the remarks made by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding the country’s high inflation rate.

Marcos earlier said he disagrees that inflation reached 6.1% in June, a figure released by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

“The President’s disbelief at the 6.1% June 2022 inflation rate figure was misunderstood. He was referring to it as a full-year figure when in fact, the year-to-date, meaning January to June average inflation rate is actually 4.4%,” Diokno said.

What was the question, exactly?

It was clear that reporters were referring to the 6.1% figure reported on Tuesday, July 5, the same day that Marcos met with his Cabinet officials.

Neil Mercado of Inquirer asked: “Inflation rate soared to 6.1%, the highest since October 2018. Does the President have any concrete plan to address this? Paano matutulungan ang mga Pilipinong umaaray na sa taas ng presyo ng bilihin (How will you help Filipinos feeling the pinch of high prices of goods)?”

Marcos responded: “I think I will have to disagree with that number. We are not that high. We have crossed the – our targets were…4% or less.”

“Unfortunately, it looks like we may cross that threshold. Tatawid tayo sa 4% (We will cross 4%). That’s why again we have to think about interest rate levels.”

The government is aiming to keep inflation within 2% to 4%, but estimates point to the 2022 average likely reaching 5%.

Marcos went on to say that inflation is a global issue and has affected imported goods.

“Much of our inflation is actually imported inflation. It is imported because it is the inflation on the products that have suffered inflation that we import…. When we analyze, we have to make those categorical differences so that we’ll better understand really what the situation is,” the President said.

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Inflation storm

The last time inflation went up to 6.1% was in November 2018. The numbers look even more alarming on a per-region basis. 

Inflation in Metro Manila for June was at 5.6%, lower than the national figure. But inflation outside the capital region hit 6.3%. Some regions had inflation rates as high as 7.5%.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa earlier said the purchasing power of the Philippine peso has declined. He said that P1 in 2018 was worth just P0.87 in June 2022.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the high cost of goods may push more Filipinos into poverty. – Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.