Amid the rising prices of food and fuel, more Filipinos feel that their lives have worsened, according to the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the third quarter of the year.
The survey also showed that more Filipinos feel pessimistic about the economy in the next 12 months.
The polling firm found that 30 percent of the respondents said their lives had “worsened” (losers), while 28 percent said their lives had “improved” (gainers), resulting in a score of -2 (gainers minus losers). This score is seven points lower than the +5 score posted in June, and the lowest since the -8 score in September 2014.
According to SWS, 31 percent feel optimistic about the economy while 20 percent are pessimistic, resulting in a net economic optimist score of +11. This is a 19-point decline from the +30 net economic optimism in June.
The same survey found that 36 percent of Filipinos felt optimistic that their personal quality of life would improve in the next 12 months, down from 49 percent in June. From 5 percent in June, more Filipinos, or 9 percent, felt pessimistic during the survey period.
Net economic optimism worsened in all areas and across socioeconomic classes.
The Duterte administration cannot afford to ignore the results of surveys such as this as they reflect popular sentiment at a given point in time.
The inflation rate rose further to 6.7 percent in September from the 6.4 percent recorded in August—said to be the highest in 10 years. While the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas says that inflation has reached its peak and would go down in the months ahead, the survey results indicate that Filipinos are worried that they would be unable to adequately cope with high prices, particulary of rice, our staple food.
If Filipinos do not exactly look forward to the coming Yuletide season even with the expected increase in OFW remittances at this time of the year and government moves to flood the market with more rice imports, then it's time for the Duterte administrarion to take firm measures to control inflation—and avert simmering popular discontent from boiling over.