MANILA, Philippines – On Friday, January 17, members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet presented the government's accomplishments during the launch of the “Duterte Legacy” campaign.
The whole-day event at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City highlighted many agencies' achievements in the past 3 years in 3 “key pillars:” peace and order, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation – marking the first half of the Duterte administration. (READ: Halfway through: Duterte's midterm in charts)
That same day, an infographic circulated on social media that put together a bunch of numbers touted as the “Duterte Legacy.” The Philippine News Agency (PNA) uploaded the infographic in an article published on January 21 and credited PCOO as its source.
The infographic was also spread on Facebook by several accounts, particularly pro-administration blogger Mocha Uson, who is also now the deputy executive director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Uson’s post had been shared over 8,200 times on Facebook as of writing, and had over 44,000 reactions and 1,900 comments. Readers sent the link to her post to Rappler’s email for verification.
There were a couple of problems with some of the data and how they were presented.
' Photo from Philippine News Agency
For one, the infographic stated that the numbers were “updated as of January 9, 2020” but a closer look shows each figure covered different periods of time and were released on different dates. There were also no footnotes or sources included on the graphic, making it hard to put the numbers in context.
A fact check on the infographics's numbers revealed the following:
Claim: PH ranked 49th in the World Talent Ranking 2019
Context: The Philippines placed 49th in the World Talent Ranking released by the International Institute for Management Development in November 2019, but its ranking was out of a total of 63 countries.
The Philippines has remained at the bottom half of the list in the last few years: 47th in 2013, 55th in 2014, 57th in 2015, 55th in 2016, 45th in 2017, and 55th in 2018.
The World Talent Ranking assesses each country’s investment and development of home-grown talent. It can be fully accessed here.
Claim: 0.8% inflation rate, lowest since May 2016
Context: Although the Philippines recorded a 0.8% inflation rate in October 2019, it was also under the Duterte government when the country’s inflation rate spiked to 6.7%, which was recorded in September and October 2018. This was the highest recorded in 9 years, or since March 2009.
Claim: 4.5% unemployment rate, lowest since 2005
Context: The latest available unemployment rate was as of October 2019, not January 2020. However, the unemployment rate did fall to a 14-year low across all quarters. This meant the population of those who do not have jobs dropped to 2.05 million from 2.2 million in October 2018.
The underemployment rate also declined to 13% in October 2019 from the 13.3% recorded in the same month in the previous year. But while the underemployment rate declined, the actual number of those who have jobs but are looking for more increased to 5.62 million from 5.5 million. (READ: Unemployment, underemployment dip to 14-year low in October 2019)
In his assessment of Duterte's midterm performance in July 2019, economist AJ Montesa said the administration “benefitted from the sustained economic growth in the past decade,” hence the improvement in the country's employment situation.
Claim: 200,000 fewer families experiencing involuntary hunger
Context: This number was most likely derived from a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) on the incidence of involuntary hunger in the country. While it is the latest available as of writing, it only covers the third quarter of 2019. The survey was done from September 27 to 30.
The 200,000 fewer families highlighted by the government is also only relative to the number recorded in the previous quarter, which stood at 2.5 million. Families who experienced involuntary hunger stood at 2.3 million in the third quarter of 2019 – of which around 426,000 families said they experienced severe hunger and 1.8 million families said they felt moderate hunger.
SWS defines involuntary hunger as the “hunger experienced by the family due to lack of food to eat.”
The Duterte administration has sustained the decrease in Filipinos’ involuntary hunger, save for the spike in December 2017.
Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, explained in his assessment in July 2019 that since hunger is correlated with prices, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law may have mitigated the effects of the increase in prices among the poor.
Claim: 5.6% families reporting victimization by common crimes
Context: The number cited in the infographic came from an SWS survey on families victimized by common crimes, but the latest report available as of writing only covers the third quarter of 2019. The actual survey was conducted from September 27 to 30.
An estimated 1.4 million families reported victimization by common crimes during this period, such as pickpocketing or robbery of personal property, break-ins, carnapping, and physical violence within the past 6 months.
Based on data from SWS, the number of families that reported victimization has been on a downward trend since the first quarter of 2019.
Claim: 5.9 million Filipinos lifted out of poverty
Context: The number cited was most likely derived from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) full year poverty statistics. However, the latest available figure was for the year 2018.
PSA said the proportion of poor Filipinos was at 16.6%, or a population of 17.6 million in 2018. This is lower than the 23.3% poverty incidence in 2015, which translated to 23.5 million Filipinos.
PSA only releases poverty figures every 3 years. The next would be released in 2021.
Claim: 4,199,288 jobs generated through Build Build Build
Context: The number came from Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, as stated in a May 2019 article. These were jobs generated from "the road, bridge, flood-control, and other infrastructure projects of the department all over the country," he said.
However, economist JC Punongbayan pointed out in his article that "this statistic is implausible." (READ: [ANALYSIS] The economic lies in ‘Duterte Legacy’)
"As of October 2019, there were 4.22 million people employed in the construction industry. Does Duterte Legacy mean to say BBB created nearly as many construction jobs as there currently are?" Punongbayan said.
He also added that based on Labor Force Surveys, there were only 719,000 more construction jobs in October 2019 than in July 2016, when Duterte assumed office. Moreover, this figure includes both public and private construction jobs.
Claim: 64 airports, 243 seaports, 2,709 bridges, 9,845 kilometers of roads
Context: These numbers are not all newly-built infrastructure. These figures include projects involving the repair, rehabilitation, upgrade, widening, or expansion of existing ones. (READ: CONTEXT: Number of airports, seaports, bridges, roads in 'Duterte legacy' graphic)
Claim: 596,859 decent and affordable housing
Context: In the midterm report presented by the Duterte administration in May 2019, the government said a total of 596,859 housing units were provided from July 2016 to May 2019.
These units were provided through the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG (262,874 units), National Housing Authority (187,609), Home Guaranty Corporation (112,710), and Social Housing Finance Corporation (33,666).
However, this number is still below the government’s target as spelled out in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022: around 6.8 million units.
Claim: 2,799 children involved in illegal drugs activities rescued, 726 government workers arrested in anti-drug operations, 8,185 high-value targets arrested, 16,706 drug-cleared barangays
Context: The data came from #RealNumbersPH, the government’s “unitary report” on Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. The numbers cited were the latest available as of writing, but they included only data obtained from July 2016 to November 2019.
However, the infographic left out the number of drug personalities killed during police operations, which stood at 5,552 based also on #RealNumbersPH data.
Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for the Philippines, has also questioned the numbers' integrity. “We can't trust the police to make any assessments of how the drug war is done precisely because the police are the ones complicit in the killings,” he told Rappler in July 2019.
Claim: 15 treatment and rehabilitation centers
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.