Try living with a P127 budget per day, NEDA execs challenged

Published June 6, 2018, 5:19 PM

by iManila Developer

By Hannah Torregoza, Ellson Quismorio, and Leslie Aquino

Lawmakers and labor groups on Wednesday challenged National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) officials, including Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon, to try living with a P127 budget per day.

RISING INFLATION – Fish, here being sold at a market in Pasay City, is among the commodities whose prices continue to rise, as inflation raced to a new five-year high of 4.6 percent in May. (Czar Dancel)
RISING INFLATION – Fish, here being sold at a market in Pasay City, is among the commodities whose prices continue to rise, as inflation raced to a new five-year high of 4.6 percent in May. (Czar Dancel/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The challenge was raised a day after Edillon issued a statement, saying the living standard for a Filipino family of five is only P10,000 a month. Out of which, only P3,834 are needed food or P127 a day alone.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he finds it very difficult to believe, considering the high cost of goods and services that Filipinos face today.

Recto said NEDA officials should try living off the supposed “hypothetical figure” they calculated for families.

“That’s very hard to believe. I challenge them to reduce their salary for three months and try to survive with P10,000 a month for three months. I bet they will change their calculations,” Recto said when sought to comment.

Is NEDA talking about PH?

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also found the proposal unthinkable. “Quite frankly, I do not know which planet they are talking about. Because it’s certainly not Metro Manila or the Philippines,” Escudero said.

Escudero, however, pointed out that NEDA’s calculation could have been based on the assumption that two members of the family are working.

“Baka ang assumption nila, dalawa ang nagtatrabaho sa family of five, kaya P20 thousand ang total,” he said.

Stop breathing, then it’s doable

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, for his part, said he believes NEDA’s math is doable.

“Actually, we can (survive) only if my family will eat only once a day, won’t brush our teeth nor take a bath, walk everyday to and from our place of work but avoid perspiring so we won’t wash our clothes,” Lacson said in a separate text message.

“And yes, ask my wife to stop watching her favorite telenovela because I will sell the TV set,” Lacson added.

Lacson also said he would ask his children to throw away their mobile phones “so they won’t ask me for pasa loads.”

“Actually, we can survive with 10 pesos a month as long as we all stop breathing,” the lawmaker said.

Don’t fool Filipinos

Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said the government should stop coming up with excuses but instead extend immediate assistance to Filipinos by finding solutions to the rising prices of goods and services due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

“Huwag na nating paikutin ang mamamayan para ipagtanggol ang TRAIN Law… Tama na, sobra na ang pagpapahirap sa Pilipino. Labanan at solusyunan na lang ang pagtaas ng presyo (Let’s not fool the people just to defend the TRAIN law. The Filipinos are suffering too much already. Let’s do something to fight the price increases),” Aquino stressed.

“Hindi na nga makahinga ang mga Pilipino sa sikip ng sinturon, binibilog at niloloko pa natin ang mga tao para lang maidepensa ang minadali nilang TRAIN law (Filipinos find it difficult to breathe in trying to cope with the effects, and still the government are trying to dupe the people just to defend the TRAIN law they rushed to pass),” he added.

‘Shamelessly out of touch’

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate has described the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) as out of touch with reality for stating that P10,000 a month is enough to sustain a family of five.

“You are outrageously and shamelessly out of touch from reality,” said Zarate, a member of the Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives.

Zarate assailed the economic managers of the Duterte administration – particularly Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia – for “brazenly downplaying the harsh effects of the TRAIN law on the prices of goods and services.”

“Why don’t they try living on a P10,000 budget for their families. Have they tried this? Get off your lofty pedestal first and try stretching P10,000 for even just six months before talking,” Zarate said in Filipino.

“The problem is, NEDA, DOF, and DBM make all these projections and plans but they aren’t the ones who experience the burden bought by this forced TRAIN law. Then they call the people ‘crybabies’ when they complain,” he added.

Beyond reality

“This amount does not reflect the reality of majority of Filipinos who are poor. Why don’t the NEDA officials, including Ms. Edillon, try to live with P127 a day. Let’s see if they can survive with this amount,” Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of ALU-TUCP, said in a statement.

He said such argument is inaccurate and an affront to millions of poor Filipinos.

“We demand that the NEDA retract this out of touch statement and we are demanding that Undersecretary Edillon apologize in public for insulting all of us with such a very low government standard of living and for taking the dignity of poor Filipino family to the lowest level,” said Tanjusay.

“Government officials, particularly the NEDA, should immerse themselves in communities before they announce standards and policies. They should be immersed in public wet markets. They should often visit the talipapas and sari-sari stores not just depend on table studies if they want to know the real living conditions being experienced by Filipino families,” he added.

According to the group, the living standard for a Filipino family of five should be P1,200 a day and P400-P600 a day of the amount should go to food expenses alone.

‘Fake news’

Federation of Free Workers Vice President Julius Cainglet also slammed the statement of NEDA even labeling it as “fake news.”

“It’s a pity that a well respected institution would resort to magic just to foster an illusion that we can buck inflation which is at its highest for the past half decade. I’m sure this crazy computation is the same argument they will use to block any legislated wage increase or a wage order from the wage boards that carries a significant wage increase,” he said.

Cainglet added NEDA is supposed to come up with scientific, logical and research-based information to guide policy makers, not act as politicians’ mouthpiece to peddle lies about the economy and what it takes for workers to live a decent life.