The unemployment rate in the country reached a new record-high of 34.2 percent or an estimated 14 million Filipinos, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.
A nationwide survey fielded over Feb. 20-23 among 1,200 respondents, found out that unemployment among adults has increased from 27.9 percent (11 million Filipinos) in the previous quarter to 34.2 percent at present.
Malacañang immediately disputed the results of the SWS survey on higher unemployment rate while casting doubt on its polling methods.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the SWS survey was more of a perception rather than reality.
Remonde said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) found that the latest survey from SWS is “not as accurate” as its own “labor force survey.”
“According to the DoLE, the labor force survey uses the internationally accepted standards. It has a very much wider universe and it is really based more on reality rather than perception,” he said in a news briefing.
Still, Remonde said government will take the SWS findings, whether accurate or not, into consideration to guide the government in providing more job opportunities for Filipinos.
The SWS survey found that of those unemployed, 13 percent voluntarily left their old job, while 12 percent were retrenched, consisting of nine percent who were laid off and three percent whose previous contracts were not renewed.
Meanwhile, six percent never worked before the time of the survey.
The independent pollster said SWS surveys on unemployment have been recorded at 20 percent and above since May, 2005, except for December, 2007 when it was at 17.5 percent.
SWS data since 1993 showed that unemployment was below 15 percent until March, 2004, and then ranged from 16.5 percent to 19 percent from August, 2004 to March, 2005.
“Over the past four quarters, adult unemployment is dominated by those who voluntarily left their old work, and those who were retrenched – either by getting laid off or by not having their contracts renewed,” SWS said.
The survey group explained that data on unemployment refers to the population of adults in the labor force.
“This is because respondents in the standard SWS surveys are those at least 18 years old. The 1993-2008 figures are consistently based on the traditional definition of unemployment as not working and at the same time looking for work. Those not working but not looking for work are excluded from the labor force; these are housewives, retired, disabled, students, etc.,” SWS explained.
It further cited that the official lower boundary of the labor force has always been 15 years of age.
It said that formerly, the “official definition” of unemployment was not working and looking for work.
However, SWS noted that from April, 2005 onward, the new official definition has included the “concept of availability for work; it subtracts those not available for work, even though looking for work, and adds those available for work but not seeking work for the following reasons: tired/believe no work is available, awaiting results of a job application, temporarily ill/disabled, bad weather, and waiting for rehire/job recall.”
It said that if the “official definition” is applied, the unemployment rate among adults 18 years old and above is 25.9 percent in the SWS February, 2009 survey.
“It is lower than when computed using the traditional definition because the correction for those looking for work but ‘not truly available’ is much larger than the correction for those ‘actually available’ though not looking for work at the moment,” SWS said.
Compared to a year ago, Filipinos who consider their lives had worsened increased by four points to 47 percent, new survey results showed.
While optimism that the quality of lives of Filipinos will improve in the next 12 months rose, pessimism among other individuals also rose, which brings the net personal optimism of Filipinos more or less “unchanged,” the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results showed.
The nationwide survey fielded over Feb. 20-23 among 1,200 respondents showed that 32 percent is expecting personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months, while 19 percent of Filipinos is expecting it to get worse.
This brings the net personal optimism (percentage of optimists minus percentage of pessimists) to +14, or “fair.”
SWS explained that as compared to the fourth quarter of 2008 figures, both personal optimism (rose by two points) and personal pessimism (rose by four points), increased.
“Thus net personal optimism was more or less unchanged,” SWS said.
With regard to change in personal quality of life compared to 12 months ago, the latest survey found those saying their lives had worsened (termed “losers”) increased by four points to 47 percent as compared to the fourth quarter of 2008 figure.
Meanwhile, those saying their lives had improved (termed “gainers”) remained at 19 percent.
SWS said the result of the losers and gainers brings the “Gainers-Losers gap” (percentage of gainers minus percentage of losers) to a low –28, or “worse” by four points from the previous quarter.
Considering personal optimism among geographic areas, the survey showed that it rose in Luzon outside Metro Manila, and decreased in the Visayas.
As compared to the previous quarter, net personal optimism in balance Luzon rose by six points, to a high +23 in February.
However, it declined by 15 points in the Visayas, to a “low” –4, by six points in Mindanao, to a “fair” +11, and by one point in Metro Manila, to a “fair” +14.
With regard to net personal optimism among socio-economic classes, it rose by two points in class D, to a “fair” +16 in February.
Meanwhile, it declined by 13 points in class E, down to a “mediocre” +5, and by four points in class ABC, to a “fair” +15 [Chart 5, Table 5].
As also shown in the survey, gainers-losers gap narrowed in Mindanao and widened in the Visayas.
The figures showed that the number of losers exceeding gainers in Mindanao eased by six points from the previous quarter, “slightly improving to a mediocre –16” in February.
However, it worsened by 19 points in the Visayas, down to a “very low” –49, by five points in Metro Manila, to a “very low” –33, and by two points in Balance Luzon, to a “low” –23.
Likewise, it worsened by 14 points in class E, falling to a “very low” –36, and by three points in class ABC, to a “mediocre” –17.
It remained at a “low” –26 in class D.
The February survey also looked into the level of optimism and pessimism of Filipinos with regard to the global financial crisis.
“Optimism that the Philippine economy would get better (economic optimists) rose by one point, to 19 percent in February, while pessimism (economic pessimist) stayed at 38 percent,” SWS said.
The net economic optimism score (percentage of economic optimists minus percentage of economic pessimists) was a “mediocre” –19.
SWS noted that net economic optimism has been at “low to very low” levels over the past six quarters, ranging from –19 to –39. As shown in the results, economic pessimism eased in Metro Manila and worsened in the Visayas.
Economic pessimism eased in Metro Manila, with a net economic optimism improved by 19 points from the previous quarter to a mediocre –18 in February.
Net economic optimism improved by seven points in balance Luzon, to a “mediocre” –14.
It worsened by 18 points in the Visayas, down to a “very low” –33, and by five points in Mindanao, to a “mediocre” –18. It rose by six points in class D, to a “mediocre” –18, and by five points in class ABC, to a “mediocre” –17. It worsened by 15 points in class E, to a “low” –23.
The SWS first quarter survey of 2009 used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao with sampling error margins of ±3 percentage for national percentages and ±6 percentage for area percentages.
By Des Ferriols Updated April 24, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Despite efforts to simplify business processes in the country, the cost of doing business in the Philippines is one of the highest in Southeast Asia and very little protection is given to investors.
A report by the World Bank (WB) showed that compared to its closest competitors in the region, doing business in the Philippines needs more reforms if the country wants to compete for foreign investments.
The WB said in its 2009 World Development Indicators that the health of a country was measured not only in macroeconomic terms but also by other factors that shape daily economic activity such as laws, regulations, and institutional arrangements.
“The Doing Business indicators measure business regulation, gauge regulatory outcomes, and measure the extent of legal protection of property, the flexibility of employment regulation, and the tax burden on businesses,” the WB said.
The WB surveyed businesses to set indicators in starting a business, registering property, dealing with construction permits, employing workers, enforcing contracts, protecting investors, and closing a business.
“The fundamental premise of the Doing Business project is that economic activity requires good rules and regulations that are efficient, accessible to all who need to use them, and simple to implement,” the WB said.
Thus some Doing Business indicators give a higher score for more regulation, such as stricter disclosure requirements in related-party transactions, and others give a higher score for simplified regulations such as a one-stop shop for completing business startup formalities.
In the survey, the Philippines scored roughly in the middle of the Southeast Asian pack that included Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
In the Philippines, the WB survey showed that there were 15 different procedures for starting a business that would take an average of 52 days to complete, with costs equivalent to 29.8 percent of the per capita national gross income.
On the other hand, there were 24 different procedures for dealing with construction permits that take over 200 days to complete and about 37 different procedures to enforce a contract that take a whopping 842 days to implement.
Worst of all, the country scored two on the one to 10 scale that assessed the degree of regulatory protection given to investors in terms of full disclosure and the like.
For comparison, countries like Malaysia have fewer procedures that take significantly shorter to complete and cost significantly less when starting businesses.
Malaysia also scored 10 in investor protection, at par with most developed countries that have advanced and strict disclosure requirements intended to protect stockholders and investors of listed and unlisted companies.
Vietnam, which used to trail the Philippines in terms of foreign direct investments, has made significant headway in improving its business environment with better and cheaper processing time for start-ups and a higher investor protection score of six.
Vietnam has also significantly improved its legal system such that it only took 34 procedures and 295 days to enforce a contract.
Even Indonesia where starting a business was more expensive and took longer, it still took significantly less time to enforce contracts and that country also scored high (9 index points against the maximum of 10) in the investor protection index.
By Helen Flores Updated April 22, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Fewer Filipino families consider themselves “mahirap” or poor, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The First Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, fielded over Feb. 20 to 23, showed 47 percent of Filipino families (about 8.7 million) consider themselves as poor, 27 percent put themselves on the “Borderline” and 26 percent consider themselves as “Hindi Mahirap” or not poor.
SWS said Self-Rated Poverty has been on a generally downward trend since mid-2008, declining from 59 percent in June 2008, 52 percent in September, 52 percent in December to 47 percent in February 2009.
The non-commissioned survey also found that 36 percent of Filipino families (estimated 6.7 million) consider themselves as “Food-Poor,” 34 percent put themselves on the “Food-Borderline” and 30 percent consider themselves as “Not Food-Poor.”
SWS said Self-Rated Food Poverty has been volatile but also declining since it went from 49 percent in June 2008 to 38 percent in September, 42 percent in December to 36 percent in February 2009.
SWS said poverty rates declined sharply in Mindanao, from 59 percent in December 2008 to 45 percent in February 2009.
It declined slightly in Metro Manila, from 53 percent to 49 percent and in balance Luzon, from 44 percent to 42 percent.
It stayed at 60 percent in the Visayas over the past two quarters, barely changing from 59 percent in September.
SWS said Self-Rated Poverty in urban areas went down from 47 percent to 43 percent, while it declined slightly in rural areas, from 56 percent to 53 percent.
The one-quarter decline in Self-Rated Food Poverty is also sharpest in Mindanao, the SWS said.
It dropped by 15 points, from 51 percent in December to 36 percent in February.
It declined slightly in the Visayas, from 50 percent to 45 percent, in balance Luzon, from 35 percent to 31 percent and in Metro Manila, from 42 percent to 39 percent.
The latest survey also found that the poverty threshold – or the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general – slightly rose in Luzon and the Visayas.
“The Self-Rated Poverty Threshold has been sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation,” the SWS said.
“This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening.”
As of February 2009, the median poverty threshold for poor households in Metro Manila stayed at P10,000, even though it had already reached as high as P15,000 several times in the past.
For those in Mindanao, the median poverty threshold stayed at P5,000, although it had already been at P10,000 before.
The median poverty thresholds of poor households rose slightly to P8,000 in balance Luzon and to P7,500 in the Visayas, but had also already reached P10,000 before for both areas.
The median food-poverty thresholds for poor households dwindled to P4,800 in Metro Manila, and to P3,000 in balance Luzon.
It remained at P4,000 in balance Luzon and at P3,000 in Mindanao. SWS said these levels had already been reached several years ago.
In Metro Manila in particular, SWS said the median poverty threshold is still P10,000 as in 2000, even though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen there by about 55 percent since.
“The NCR median poverty threshold of P10,000 per month for February 2009 is equivalent to only P6,456 in base year 2000 purchasing power, after deflation by the CPI,” the SWS said.
“The deflated poverty threshold for NCR of below P7,000 per month is a throwback to living standards of over twenty years ago.”
In four SWS surveys in 2000, the base year of the CPI, the median SWS poverty threshold for NCR was already P10,000 per month, equivalent to P15,490 per month at the February 2009 cost of living, given the CPI of 154.9.
“The difference of P15,490 – P 10,000 = P5,490 between the thresholds of 2000 and February 2009 measures the extent of belt-tightening that took place,” it said.
On the other hand, median food poverty threshold of P4,800 in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P3,194 in base year 2000 purchasing power for food.
The median food poverty threshold in December 2000 was P6,000 for Metro Manila. It is equivalent to P9,018 per month at the February 2009 cost of food, given the latest CPI of 150.1 for food items.
“The difference of P9,018 – P4,800 = P4,218 between the food thresholds of 2000 and February 2009 is the extent of belt-tightening made by food-poor Metro Manila households,” the SWS said.
The SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Sampling error margins of plus or minus three percent for national percentages and plus or minus six percent for area percentages were applied.
‘Thanks to Malacañang’
At Malacañang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde attributed the decline in the self-poverty rate to the administration’s programs against hunger and poverty.
“This is a confirmation that indeed the anti-poverty programs of President Arroyo are working and right on target,” he said.
Remonde said the results were significant, considering that the decline came in the midst of the global financial crisis.
“We don’t want to look like we’re bragging but we can say that the result is very inspiring and it inspires us to continue pursuing our anti-poverty program,” he said.
Remonde said that the National Anti-Poverty Commission under Mrs. Arroyo’s leadership has steered the government in the right direction on the efforts to reduce poverty.
The government has implemented several programs to address hunger and poverty, including providing cash and food subsidies to the poor, he added. — – With Marvin Sy
By Helen Flores Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – A majority or 65 percent of Filipino adults believe that the May 2010 elections will take place as scheduled even as Vice President Noli de Castro continued to lead the presidential race, independent pollster Pulse Asia reported yesterday.
Pulse Asia’s February 2009 survey showed that De Castro remained the top choice of Filipinos to succeed President Arroyo in 2010, garnering 19 percent preference rating.
Sen. Francis Escudero came in close second with 17 percent; followed by former President Joseph Estrada, 16 percent; and Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., 15 percent.
Sen. Loren Legarda came in fifth with 12 percent, followed by Senators Manuel Roxas II, eight percent and Panfilo Lacson, six percent.
Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay was also included in the survey, receiving two percent of the votes while Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairperson Bayani Fernando got one percent.
The non-commissioned survey, conducted from Feb. 2 to 15, used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 representative adults aged 18 years old and above.
The survey showed that 65 percent of Filipinos believe that there is a big possibility that the next elections will push through according to schedule – a sentiment shared by small to big majorities (55 percent to 76 percent) across geographic areas and socio-economic classes. One in 10 Filipinos or 13 percent believes otherwise and 22 percent are undecided on the matter.
Escudero and Villar welcomed the survey results, both saying the people will ultimately decide on election day.
Meanwhile, leading presidentiables and vice presidentiables will be among the panelists in the Rotary Club of Downtown Manila’s first “Open Forum on Good Governance and Public Service” on March 25 at the De La Salle University in Taft Avenue, Manila.
The forum will also have as panelists personalities of known independence, probity and integrity.
Lawyer Alejandro Rodriguez Jr., president of Rotary Club of Downtown Manila, said the forum intends to elicit the participants’ commitment and insights on good governance and public service as well as on urgent matters of national concern.
Fifty-one percent of Filipinos agree that the postponement or cancellation of the May 2010 elections will cause much trouble in the country.
On the other hand, 27 percent of Filipinos do not believe that much trouble will ensue if the May 2010 elections are not held, while 21 percent are ambivalent on the matter, the survey said.
In the vice presidential race, the Pulse Asia survey showed that 26 percent of Filipinos would vote for Escudero while 22 percent would choose Legarda if the elections were held today.
The only other personality who scored a double-digit vice-presidential voter preference is De Castro with 14 percent.
The February 2009 survey, meanwhile, showed that public interest in the May 2010 senatorial elections remains high.
Pulse Asia said 16 of 65 personalities included in the senatorial survey have a statistical chance of winning if the elections were conducted now.
Currently leading the senatorial race is Sen. Jinggoy Estrada whose overall voter preference of 52.8 percent.
The senator thanked his supporters and said he is humbled by his current ranking.
Sen. Pia Cayetano received 48.8 percent; Roxas, 48.8 percent; Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, 47 percent and former Senate president Franklin Drilon, 42.7 percent.
Sen. Jamby Madrigal would be re-elected by 38.8 percent of Filipinos while Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. would win another senatorial term with the support of 37.8 percent of Filipinos.
Aquilino Pimentel III got 36.1 percent; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ralph Recto, 35.5 percent; former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, 33.8 percent; and Optical Media Board (OMB) chairperson Edu Manzano, 33.4 percent. Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair Vicente Sotto III has 31.2 percent.
Also included in the list of probable winners are news anchor Korina Sanchez with 28 percent; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 27.6 percent; Binay, 27.2 percent; and Sen. Richard Gordon, 26.9 percent. – With Sandy Araneta
View previous articles from this author.
Last Wednesday, at “Usapang PopDev” of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, SWS reported on its February 2009 survey in Parañaque City, showing public opinion on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill as very favorable. This means it is the same as the public opinion on the RH bill in the City of Manila and the Philippines as a whole, as polled in December 2008 and September 2008 respectively.
Among the items of the three surveys were probes into agreement, disagreement, or neutrality on the four key attitudinal statements found below. After each statement are the percentages that agreed versus disagreed; balances from 100 percent pertain to those who were neutral or who did not answer.
1. “The use of condoms, IUDs and pills can also be considered as abortion.” Parañaque: 33-53; Manila: 29-56; Philippines: 33-50.
Thus, at most, one-third of respondents classify condoms etc. as forms of abortion, as claimed by many in the Catholic hierarchy. Abortion is, of course, constitutionally illegal. The surveys make it clear that most Filipinos would not bother to dispute the legal status of these contraceptives on the basis of the abortion argument.
2. “There should be a law that requires the government to distribute condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail of them.” Parañaque: 70-19; Manila: 64-22; Philippines: 68-15.
This shows an overwhelming public rejection of the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to governmental provision of the above-mentioned contraceptives for those who want them. Of course, most people know what church officials are up to — 66 percent in Parañaque and 62 percent in Manila agree that “The church interferes in the affairs of the government, especially in the issues of reproductive health and family planning” — and yet they still maintain high trust in the Catholic church. Fortunately for the faith in the Philippines, there is much more to being a Catholic than following every wish of one’s bishop.
It may be noted that only 15 percent of Filipinos object to having a law requiring the government to distribute condoms etc. to those who want them, even though as many as 33 percent regard such contraceptives as abortion. This means that, even among those personally opposed to condoms etc., most are open-minded enough to let others have an effective freedom of choice.
3. “If family planning would be included in their curriculum, the youth would be sexually promiscuous.” Parañaque: 25-58; Manila: 29-59; Philippines: 25-54.
4. “There should be a law that requires the government to teach family planning to the youth.” Parañaque: 85-9; Manila: 88-7; Philippines: 76-10.
The above are consistent with agreements that “Students of age 15-24 should be given adolescent health education in school” of 87 percent in Parañaque and 92 percent in Manila. They are also consistent with percentages agreeing that “Men and women 15-24 years old should be given family planning information and services” of 86 in Parañaque and 89 in Manila.
Filipinos who know of the RH bill pending in Congress are almost half in the entire nation (46 percent), and exactly half in Parañaque (49 percent) and Manila (51 percent). The bill was described in the survey as “giving the government the duty to promote responsible parenthood through giving enough information to the people and having safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services for people who want it.”
The bottom lines of the three SWS surveys are the percentages in favor of, versus opposed to, the RH bill: Parañaque: 84-9; Manila: 86-8; Philippines: 71-8.
The basic reason why opinions are overwhelmingly in favor of the RH bill is the widespread recognition that the problem of overpopulation in the Philippines is critical. Here are percentages that agree with the following statements: “Population growth increases poverty incidence” — Parañaque 71, Manila 74; “Population growth worsens environmental degradation” — Parañaque 65, Manila 69; “Population growth slows down economic growth” — Parañaque 68, Manila 70; “There is a population growth problem in the Philippines” — Parañaque 64, Manila 69; “There is a population growth problem in our city” — Parañaque 60, Manila 69; “The government of our city should have a policy on reproductive health and family planning” — Parañaque 86, Manila 88; and “The government should provide free supplies or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method” — Parañaque 87, Manila 90.
* * *
The first of the three surveys was done on Sept. 24-27, 2008, on a nationally-representative sample of 1,500 persons of age 18 and up (error margin of 2.5 percent). The second survey, on Dec. 27-29, 2008, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age (meaning, 15-54 years old for males and 15-49 years old for females) from the City of Manila. The third survey, on Feb. 14-17, 2009, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age in Parañaque City. The city-level error margin is 4 percent.
All samples were equally divided between males and females. The city-level samples were equally divided among congressional districts, so as to be of equal quality among them; the city-surveys found public opinion the same across districts.
Congresspersons who dispute the Social Weather Stations polls, but sincerely care about opinions in their own districts, should commission their own scientific polls at the local level. In the process, they may as well gather data on how their chances of being re-elected in 2010 might relate to their constituents’ opinions about the RH bill. How many can feel certain that, like their local bishop, they are so appreciated by the electorate that they can afford to openly oppose the RH bill?
* * *
MANILA, Philippines – A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that a majority or 86 percent of Manila residents support a law on reproductive health (RH).
The SWS survey, conducted last Dec. 27 and 28, also revealed that 88 percent of the 600 respondents agree that Manila should have a policy on reproductive health, while 95 percent say that the city health centers should further improve its services.
The survey results were presented by the SWS during a forum in Quezon City organized by The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The FORUM).
The study entitled “SWS December 2008 Special Omnibus Survey on General Health in Manila (MLA 12-08),” used face-to-face interviews of 600 men and women from the six districts of Manila.
“We do hope that with this latest survey result, our respective legislators in the House of Representatives won’t have any qualms on passing the Reproductive Health bill which would benefit the majority of Filipinos especially couples. The survey is echoing the voice of the true constituency of Congress,” The Forum president Benjamin De Leon said.
De Leon said majority of the respondents agree that there should be a law requiring government to distribute legal contraceptives like condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail, as well as providing of free supplies or services to the poor who wish to use any modern method. The survey also revealed that 92 percent agree that students aged 15 to 24 years old should be given adolescent health education.
De Leon said the revised modules, which include teaching notes on pre-marital sex, commercial sex, abortion and homosexuality, and high-risk sexual practices, are geared to inform the youth on the long-term health and social consequences of sexual risk-taking.
However, the new textbooks emphasize sexual abstinence among adolescents, and ask teachers to lead discussions on the advantages of delaying sexual activities during adolescence.
By Helen Flores
Updated February 18, 2009 06:04 PM