By Orlando Oxales
Economic security is still and has been the urgent national concern of Filipinos for too many decades and administrations.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines economic security as vulnerability to economic loss, focusing on the consequences such as income loss.
It also includes access to basic needs infrastructure like health, education, dwelling, information, and social protection – elements that actually fall in the scope of primary responsibilities of government.
In one of the sessions of the Philippine Economic Society’s 61st Annual Meeting and Conference hosted by the Stratbase ADR Institute held recently, economic experts discussed how the government and private sector can create an investment-driven growth by boosting the manufacturing sectors’ potential as a strong pillar for job generation and livelihood opportunities that will be required for its service and supply chain.
Pulse Asia President, Dr. Ronald Holmes presented the results of their latest survey conducted in September from 1,200 nationwide respondents wherein he reported that 48 percent of Filipinos or approximately half felt that “the national economy has deteriorated in the past year.”
Of these respondents, a significant majority, 74 percent, said they “strongly feel” their own life deteriorated.
This negative sentiment was expressed across the economic class but was most pronounced in Class E where 83 percent or eight out of 10 said their life has gotten worse.
These are telling figures that reflect a sense of economic insecurity of Filipinos vis-a-vis their perception of the nation’s current economic situation.
He also cited the results of the Social Weather Stations 2023 third quarter survey which similarly found the sentiment that 48 percent of Filipino families felt poor, a two percent increase from the last quarter. Twenty-seven percent feel they are at the borderline and 255 feel they are not poor.
The estimated number of self-rated poor based on the SWS data of the same period is 13.2 million. That would be approaching the estimated population of the Metro Manila area.
Also shared was the commissioned survey of Stratbase which probed into related economic subjects. The first question was on the public’s perception on which countries or organizations Filipinos think should the Marcos administration strengthen its economic relations.
The United States, as expected and consistently is the top choice at 74 percent, followed by Japan (55 percent), Australia (46 percent), Canada, (40 percent) and the European Union (26 percent).
Only one out of four (19 percent) chose China.
Higher is Great Britain/United Kingdom which got 21 percent while 4 percent chose India.
The second question asked in the Stratbase survey is whether respondent agree or disagree with the statement, “The private sector plays an instrumental role in ensuring economic security in which individuals enjoy a stable source of income and are consistently able to meet their basic needs.” A clear majority, 70 percent, expressed their agreement with the statement.
Dr. Holmes remarked virtually no one disagreed while about 24 percent were ambivalent
The third question asked respondents on their opinion on “which ways the private sector can help in attaining economic recovery.”
The insights from six of 10 of the respondents revealed the private sector will be instrumental in making goods that are more affordable and accessible to Filipino consumers (64 percent), creating jobs (60 percent), and expanding livelihood opportunities (58 percent).
Dr Holmes pointed out that these are actually consistent with the top three of the most urgent national concerns that Filipinos have been as asking the government to address.
In his statement during the forum, Stratbase ADR Institute President Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit emphasized the importance of investments in unlocking the Philippines’ economic potential.
He advocated partnering with economic allies and focusing on sectors with high potential can lead to investment-led growth, resulting in a resilient, prosperous, and sustainable future for Filipinos.
He also believes that this approach will generate better quality jobs and employment opportunities.
To secure the economic future of Filipinos, it’s crucial for government to introduce policy changes that tackle regulatory barriers and fitting incentives to speed up priority investments, particularly those linked to manufacturing, infrastructure that are domestic-oriented and can decrease import dependence thereby invigorating local industries as the new engines of our economy.