Bayan News

March 2018 Nationwide Survey on Commodity Prices

Pulse Asia Research, Inc. is pleased to share with you some findings on Commodity Prices from the March 2018 Ulat ng Bayan national survey. We request you to assist us in informing the public by disseminating this information.

The survey fieldwork was conducted from March 23 to 28, 2018 using face-to-face interviews.

The following are among the key developments that preoccupied Filipinos during the month of March 2018:

1. The quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to remove SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno by questioning the validity of her appointment on the basis of her alleged failure to fully disclose her personal wealth; for her part, SC Chief Justice Sereno, who went on an “indefinite leave” beginning 01 March 2018, said the only way she can be removed from office is through impeachment as provided for by the 1987 Philippine Constitution; several militant lawmakers and concerned citizens have called on the SC to dismiss the petition which they consider to be unconstitutional;

2. The approval by the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives, through a vote of 33-1, of its report which finds probable cause to impeach SC Chief Justice Sereno for culpable violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption; Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has assured the SC Chief Justice of a fair trial should the impeachment trial materialize; calls for her resignation have been made by several groups of judges and court employees but these have been rejected by SC Chief Justice Sereno because resigning would only erode the High Court’s independence;

3. The order of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to cancel the 20 December 2017 resolution by DOJ prosecutors to dismiss the drug charges against Peter Lim, Rolando Espinosa, Jr., and Peter Co; a new panel of prosecutors has been formed to review the original resolution and receive new evidence submitted by all concerned parties;

4. The Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) following what President Rodrigo R. Duterte referred to as the “outrageous” attacks made by some officials of the United Nations (UN) against his anti-illegal drugs campaign; nonetheless, critics say, this move does not mean that the ICC’s investigation into the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs” will automatically cease;

5. The provisional acceptance into the witness protection program of Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles, who is being tried for plunder in connection with the P 10-B pork barrel scam; the latter requested for a transfer from the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to the DOJ because of reported intimidation, harassment, and threats against her; the DOJ’s clarification that should Ms. Napoles become a state witness in possible new cases, this would not exonerate her from her involvement in the pork barrel scam;

6. The recommendation made by an inter-agency government task force to close Boracay Island for a 6-month period beginning 26 April 2018 to allow for environmental rehabilitation efforts to be carried out in the area; resorts owners in other provinces pledged to carry out similar initiatives following the closure recommendation;

7. The filing of plunder charges against former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles and retired Senior Supt. Wenceslao Sombero, Jr. in connection with the alleged attempt to extort P 50 M from a gambling tycoon in 2016;

8. The President’s support for joint exploration or “co-ownership” of the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China which, according to maritime law experts, would be tantamount to giving up the country’s claims over disputed territories in the area if such initiatives are not governed by Philippine laws;

9. The granting of subpoena powers to the PNP Chief and the top officials of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), through the President’s signing of Republic Act No. 10973, with the objective of speeding up criminal investigations; human rights groups criticized the move which they fear will only lead to more abuse on the part of the police particularly in connection with its role in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs;

10. The continuing hearings on fake news at the Senate which saw Senator Grace Poe and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clashing over the lawmaker’s proposal to prohibit government officials and state employees from spreading fake news; the Palace Spokesperson said that the bill, among others, violates equal protection under the law because it singles out those in government for spreading fake news;

11. Former President Benigno S. Aquino’s appearance before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in connection with the preliminary hearing regarding the charges of electioneering filed against him arising from his administration’s dengue vaccination program;

12. The apology issued by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg over the data breach involving more than 50 million Facebook accounts and which allowed a UK-based data mining and analytics company to make use of such data in connection with the electoral campaign of United States (US) President Donald J. Trump in 2016; and

13. In economic and financial news, the increase in oil prices prior to the Lenten break following remarks by Saudia Arabia’s Energy Minister regarding the need for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allied producers to coordinate supply cuts until 2019; the 5.85% decline in the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) for the month of March 2018 due to global trade concerns and increasing interest rates; the increase in the headline inflation rate by 3.9% between January and February 2018 (based on 2012 prices), the fastest increase since August 2014, as a result of the rise in the prices of food and beverage as well as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products; and the increase in the power rates of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) due to greater demand for electricity as the summer season begins.

As in our previous Ulat ng Bayan surveys, this nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. It has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level. Subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 6% error margin, also at 95% confidence level. Those interested in further technical details may refer to our website (www.pulseasia.ph)

Pulse Asia Research’s pool of academic fellows takes full responsibility for the design and conduct of the survey, as well as for analyses it makes based on the survey data. In keeping with our academic nature, no religious, political, economic, or partisan group influenced any of these processes. Pulse Asia Research undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

For any clarification or questions, kindly contact Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director of Pulse Asia Research at 09189436816 or Ronald D. Holmes, Pulse Asia Research President at 09189335497 (via mobile, Viber, or Telegram) or at ronald.holmes@gmail.com (via email.)

Virtually all Filipinos report price increases in items they commonly purchase since January 2018, with most of them identifying food and beverages as the items they purchase which are most affected by such price increases

Nearly all Filipinos (98%) say there are commodities that they usually buy whose prices have gone up since January 2018. Essentially the same figures are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes (97% to 99% and 96% to 98%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 1.)

 

In terms of the specific items whose prices have increased in the previous quarter, the most often cited ones are food (92%), more particularly rice (81%) and non-rice items (67%), and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as juice or soft drinks (56%). Other commodities mentioned are electricity (30%), transportation-related items (22%) which are gasoline/diesel (16%) and transportation fare (7%), LPG (12%), medicine and other health-related needs (9%), cigarettes (5%), alcoholic drinks (4%), cellphone load (3%), water (2%), and recreation-related expenses (1%). (Please refer to Table 2.)

In the various geographic areas and socio-economic classes, majorities say they have experienced an increase in the prices of food items since January 2018 (87% to 99% and 86% to 94%, respectively). More specifically, majorities in these sub-groupings report an increase in the price of rice (71% to 93% and 71% to 91%, respectively) and other non-rice food items (70% to 75% and 66% to 70%, respectively). Metro Manila is an exception, with only about a third of its residents (36%) reporting an increase in the prices of non-rice food items. In addition, most Filipinos across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings (52% to 68% and 59% to 60%, respectively) say the prices of SSBs have gone up since the start of the year, with the exception of Visayans and those in Class E (32% and 40%, respectively). (Please refer to Table 3.)

At the national level, the leading first ranked response is food (72%), more particularly rice (58%). Meanwhile, in terms of other responses of Filipinos, the most often cited is food (76%), more specifically non-rice food items (53%). In the different geographic areas and socio-economic classes, majorities cite food as their first response (61% to 85% and 67% to 75%, respectively), especially rice (51% to 71% and 52% to 68%, respectively). With regard to other responses given by Filipinos, the item identified by majorities across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings is food (57% to 89% and 72% to 86%, respectively), in particular non-rice food items (54% to 61% and 53% to 63%, respectively). The exceptions are Metro Manila and Class D (28% and 50%, respectively). (Please refer to Tables 4 to 5.)

Most Filipinos say they are strongly affected by the increase in the prices of basic commodities

An overwhelming majority of Filipinos (86%) report being strongly affected by the rise in the prices of basic commodities. This is the prevailing sentiment in each geographic area and socio-economic grouping (83% to 92% and 80% to 88%, respectively). Meanwhile, 13% of Filipinos are somewhat affected by such price increases, with 5% to 17% and 12% to 19% across geographic areas and socio-economic groupings reporting the same. Only 1% of Filipinos are not at all affected by the increase in the prices of basic commodities. (Please refer to Table 6.)