Marcos isn’t disputing inflation data—Diokno

Published July 6, 2022, 1:40 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno clarified that President Marcos is not disputing the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) June inflation report, saying the chief executive only misinterpreted the data given to him.

In a televised interview over ANC on Wednesday, July 6, Diokno explained that President Marcos was apprised during a Cabinet meeting about the country’s inflation situation. However, the briefing mainly focused on the year-to-date inflation rate of 4.4 percent.

Hours before President Marcos’ first Cabinet meeting, the PSA announced that consumer prices jumped to 6.1 percent in June, the highest since 2018. Despite the increase, the first six-month average still settled at 4.4 percent.

While the 6.1 percent inflation rate recorded for the month of June was factual, Diokno said “it’s not what he [President Marcos] read in the [Cabinet] briefing” held before his first media press conference as president on Tuesday afternoon, July 5..

Diokno said the 4.4 percent inflation average from January to June is “what entered the President’s mind.”

“First of all, let me explain that I was not there [during the press conference]. I was just watching the film clip,” Diokno said. “You know, when he said ‘I disagree with the number,’ he was actually referring to what the press secretary answered.”

“Remember he asked the press secretary what’s the inflation again? I think the press secretary says 6.1 percent…. I think it’s not what he read in the briefing,” he added.

Diokno said President Marcos was mainly briefed about the first-semester inflation rate of 4.4 percent because it is the “more important thing… the monthly inflation is very noisy data. So you look at the year to date.”

“In other words, from January to June, it’s 4.4 percent. So I think that’s where the President was coming from when he disagreed with the 6.1 percent,” the finance chief noted.

Meanwhile, Diokno said the Marcos administration will continue importing key commodities as long to bridge the gap between the local supply and demand.

“The President answered that he will we will continue to import if demand exceeds supply. So long there will be a shortage, we will continue to import for our food requirements,” Diokno said.

Importation will keep the consumer prices reasonable and affordable to the ordinary people, Diokno said.

“We’re importing rice, we’ve been importing pork and other products to make up for the shortage. We will continue to do so until such time [there is sufficient supply],” Diokno said.

“Simultaneously, we plan to increase production and efficiency that’s why he accepted the agriculture post. He wants to focus on production and we can do that through maybe more sustained, and productive activity in the sector,” he added.