Filipinos’ optimism on the economy and their quality of life dropped significantly in the first quarter of the year, according to a recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The poll, conducted among 1,200 adults nationwide from March 25 to 28, showed that 43 percent of Filipinos expect their life to improve while 6 percent expect theirs to get worse, yielding a +36 net personal optimism rating.
Net personal optimism went down nine points from the +45 obtained in a survey conducted in December last year, six months after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office. It was the lowest net optimism score since the +33 recorded in September 2015.
“Before this, net personal optimism had been at +40 and above for five consecutive quarters,” the pollster said. Malacañang attributed the plunge to inflation.
The SWS said readings across geographical areas remained “very high” despite significant declines particularly in Mindanao, where the net optimism score fell 22 points to +32 from December’s +54.
The survey also noted the significant drop of 17 points in net optimism score among Class E respondents, from +46 in December to +29.
On the other hand, the SWS said 47 percent of Filipinos believe that the economy will improve in the next 12 months, against 9 percent who said it will get worse, yielding a “very high” +38 net economic optimism.
The latest net economic optimism was five points lower than the +43 in the previous quarter.
The March 2017 survey also found that 35 percent of the respondents believe that their lives have improved over the least year, while 19 percent said their lives worsened.
The number of “gainers” and “losers” yield to a “very high” net gainers score of +16, which is the same score in December 2016.
The survey had sampling error margins of ±3% for quarterly national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella attributed the decline in net optimism to inflation.
“Net personal optimism was registered at +36 which could be attributed to respondents feeling the pinch of inflation last March following the increase in electricity cost due to the Malampaya maintenance shutdown and upward price adjustments in gasoline, diesel, kerosene and LPG,” Abella said in a statement.
“Rest assured that government did everything to stabilize the power supply throughout the country and to manage our inflation rate within the government target,” he added.
He said that the government will remain focused on “bringing prosperity to all, especially to the disadvantaged and marginalized sectors.”
“We have initiated several pro-poor undertakings, such as free medicine to indigents, higher pension for seniors, increased combat duty pay and combat incentive pay for soldiers and policemen, additional rice subsidy to our conditional cash transfer recipients, and the microfinancing system, which we have already piloted in some areas,” Abella said.