Economy, Poverty, SONA 2009

SONA 2009 notes: 3.8 M more poor Filipinos, Gloria richer by P78 M (& they’re even understated)

GMA laban kahirapanOn her 9th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would surely brag again how her administration has successfully steered the economy amid the raging global financial and economic crunch. The best argument that will dispel assertions by Arroyo of a strong and resilient economy is the reality on the ground, the grinding poverty that confronts an increasing number of Filipinos on a daily basis. Such poverty has been constantly present and ever worsening even during the decades-high GDP growth the country posted before the successive collapse of the biggest Wall Street firms and the largest TNCs in the world. Under Arroyo’s almost nine-year old term, the economic hardships facing the people have become even more pronounced because of wrong economic policies and aggravated by the global crisis.

Data cited in the table below were culled from official monitoring and reports of government agencies and it would be interesting to see how Arroyo would explain them (or distort them) to give a semblance of credibility to government’s version of the state of the nation under her illegitimate and corrupt leadership. Deregulation and privatization policies aggressively implemented by Arroyo combined with the continued operation of private cartels (both local and foreign), the continued imposition of and increases in onerous taxes such as the value added tax (VAT) have pushed prices up and the overall cost of living. Consequently, poverty continued to worsen as wages remained depressed while an increasing number of workers become jobless and underemployed.

Amid the people’s worsening poverty, which according to official poverty figures worsened by 3.8 million Filipinos between 2003 and 2006 (latest available data), Gloria Arroyo has amassed even greater wealth. (Note that such poverty figures are hugely understated considering the ridiculously low standards used by government to measure poverty.) The last row in the table below shows the declared net worth of Arroyo when she first assumed the presidency in 2001 and her latest declaration in 2008. During the said period, her declared wealth increased by P77.79 million, or almost 115 percent. Note that the said figures are the officially declared personal wealth of Arroyo and exclude all the ill-gotten wealth she and husband Mike Arroyo have accumulated through the years in Malacañang.


Start of Arroyo’s term as president (Jan 2001, unless otherwise indicated)


Retail price of LPG per 11-kg tank


P440 (June 2009)

Pump price of diesel per liter


P33.29 (June 2009)

Retail price regular-milled rice per kilo


P30 (July 2009)

Effective rates of Meralco per kilowatt-hour


P8.81 (May 2009)

Basic rates of water services in NCR per cubic meter

Manila Water – P2.95

Maynilad – P6.58

Manila Water – P19.64

Maynilad – P23.05

(4th quarter 2008)

Minimum wage in NCR including COLA

P213 – 250

P345 – 382

Estimated cost of living in NCR for a family of five


P917 (Sep 2008)

No. of Filipinos officially considered as poor

23.8 million (2003)

27.6 million (2006)

No. of workers officially considered as jobless & underemployed

8.34 million

9.98 million (Apr 2009)

No. exported migrant workers

867,599 (2001)

1,376,823 (2008)


P66.75 million

P144.54 million (2008)

Data sources:

  1. LPG & diesel prices from the Department of Energy (DOE)
  2. Price of rice from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS)
  3. Effective Meralco rates as monitored by AGHAM
  4. Water rates from Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
  5. Minimum wage & cost of living (family living wage) from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC)
  6. Number of poor & jobless & underemployed workers from the National Statistics Office
  7. Number of exported (deployed) migrant workers from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
  8. Declared net worth of Gloria Arroyo from the Office of the Ombudsman

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