THE MARCOS JR. administration must rectify its “reactionary” stance against rising inflation and come up with more effective strategies to combat it, political science professors told the Varsitarian.

Inflation already hit 7.7 percent last October, the fastest in almost 14 years, with economists predicting it has not yet reached its peak.

Asst. Prof. Froilan Calilung, a lecturer at the UST Department of Political Science, criticized what he deemed as the vagueness of the administration’s plans to handle the situation.

[H]indi nailalahad ng gobyerno ano ba talaga ang problema or ano ba talaga ang solusyon doon sa problema. Kung hindi alam ng tao kung saan ang puno’t-dulo ng problema. Maghahanap at maghahanap sila ng paliwanag,” he said.

While the Marcos administration has offered an eight-point socioeconomic agenda to bolster the economy, Calilung said it should provide more details and mechanisms on how this project will work.

“We have to understand that we’re no longer in the campaign right now and we’re dealing with complex realities,” he said.

[I]kaw na ‘yung presidente, sabihin mo kung ano ba talaga ang nangyayari at ano ang kaya mong gawin. Iyon ang leadership na nakukulangan ako.”

The eight-point agenda, presented on July 26, laid out ambitious goals to address high prices in the near term and create more quality and green jobs in the medium term.

But Asst. Prof. Frederick Rey, lecturer of political science and sociology at UST, said the government is failing to anticipate the shockwaves brought about by skyrocketing inflation.

“[T]he blueprints of action of our government are reactionary—there is a failure in anticipation. The centralization of power to the political institution excludes other institutions in the crafting of meaningful reforms and safeguards. Problems are addressed from the level of the technocrats, thinking that their science alone provides the answer,” he said.

Rey warned that “ignorance” hinders the government from implementing effective solutions to the current economic challenges.

“All actions of the government should be driven by perfect information. The perfectibility of information protects the technocrats from error. Technocrats are not allowed to err because they are supposedly the best and the brightest,” he said.

Lack of urgency is also besetting the Marcos administration.

[I]tong first 100 days […] dapat dito nagpapakitang-gilas ‘yung gobyerno—dumaan parang wala lang. Wala ‘yung sense of urgency tugunan ang mga problema. Wala ‘yung level of responsiveness na inaasahan natin mula sa gobyerno na may malasakit sa naghihirap na taumbayan,” Calilung said.

In a Pulse Asia survey last September, 42 percent of Filipinos were unhappy with the government’s response to inflation. Marcos Jr., in an Oct. 18 tweet, said it is still the “number one priority,” noting they will “continue to use interest rates” and “defend the peso” to mitigate its effects. 

Clearer strategies

Experts urge the government to implement more viable strategies in facing the economic headwinds.

Jazztin Jairum Manalo, another lecturer at the UST Department of Political Science, said local government units (LGUs) should be allowed to develop solutions from the grassroots level.

[M]as alam ng mga local government units ang problema sa mga community nila—bigyan mo [national government] sila ng power, subsidies, budget, tao. Huwag mo sila i-restrict sa mga gusto nilang gawin within their constituents,” he said.

Giving handouts, however, should be crossed off the list because it is only a band-aid solution.

Ang favorite kasi ng government natin ay magbigay ng pera sa household para mabayaran ‘yung presyo. Bakit hindi tayo magbigay ng subsidy sa mga producer level, ‘di ba? Sa supply chain level. Value chain supply, value chain level,” Asst. Prof. Marie Antoinette Rosete, lecturer at the UST Department of Economics, said.

Since the country is experiencing cost-pull inflation, where goods and services rise when the cost of outputs increases, stabilizing internal factors is key to bringing prices down.

Ngayon kasi, tumataas ang presyo dahil sa cost of materials – externally generated ito. It’s either maghahanap tayo ng substitute sa mga ingredients na binibili nating imported para ‘yung cost of goods natin more or less, ‘di masyadong mahal,” Asst. Prof. Carlos Manapat, chair of the UST Department of Economics, said.

Subsidizing agricultural workers is also crucial to managing the situation since it will reduce production costs and rev up the food supply.

“The government should help agri farmer to reduce cost of agri products for them to incerase supply. Kasi kapag mataas ang supply, bababa ang presyo,” Assoc. Prof. Ronaldo Cabauatan, lecturer at the UST Department of Business Economics, said.


Rising inflation also hits home, with tuition fees, especially in programs with laboratory units, in danger of going up.

“The tuition fee did not change from the time that we were purely online. But now that we’re transitioning to [an] in-person setup, there will be some increases in tuition fees or miscellaneous fees or whatnot,” she said. “[T]hat’s going to put pressure on their parents who will pay for that and, hopefully, [they] are already prepared for that.”

Rosete knew of parents who urged their children to either shift to less expensive courses, apply for a gap year, or stop schooling altogether to save costs.

“You’d see that it’s not only the Thomasian families that are having a problem, but households that are sending their children to schools, in general, will have a lot of financial pressures pagpasok ng in-person classes,” she said.

Rosete urges the University to offer more working scholarships and “streamlining of expenses” to avoid drastic tuition hikes.

UST temporarily halted applications for the San Lorenzo Ruiz Scholarship during the pandemic. It is offered to Thomasians willing to render 20 to 30 hours of assistance in various offices.

Manapat said some tradeoffs might need to be considered, as students and professors have already invested in the equipment needed for online classes.

“You still need to face people sometimes, kasi may social eager […] may social needs ka eh to be with other people aside from your family. [So,] I think limited face-to-face is okay,” he said. Chalssea Kate C. Echegoyen, Eduardo G. Fajermo Jr. and Niña Angelica M. Rodriguez. With reports from Camille M. Marcelo


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