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Marcos Jr. disagrees with June's 6.1% inflation; 'Not that high' remark spawns memes

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 06, 2022 5:35 pm

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. disagreed with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)'s latest report that the country's annual headline inflation rose to a record 6.1% in June, from 5.4% in May.

"6.1%? I think I will have to disagree with that number," Marcos Jr. said in a press briefing following his first cabinet meeting July 5. "We are not that high."

Last June's inflation, the rate of increase in prices of goods, is the highest one recorded since October 2018's 6.9%, the PSA noted.

Inflation in June 2021, meanwhile, stood at 3.7%.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa attributed last June's figure to the higher annual growth rate in the index for food and non-alcoholic beverages. Asked for comment on Marcos Jr.'s remarks, Mapa said the PSA “stands by its report."

Last June's 6.1% only covers the month and not the entire year. Average inflation for the first half of 2022, the PSA said, was at 4.4%.

In any case, Marcos Jr. said the country looks like it "may cross" the 4% threshold, in an apparent reference to the Duterte administration's Development and Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) inflation target of 2% to 4% this year.

"Unfortunately," Marcos Jr. said, "tatawid tayo sa 4%."

Analysts said the country has yet to take a turn for the worse, as prices of oil and goods remain high.

'It is what it is'

Edwin Lacierda, former palace spokesman of Noynoy Aquino III, on Twitter said the PSA's reported 6.1% inflation last June is an "unmistakable fact" that Marcos Jr. must accept.

"A president may disagree but it is what it is," Lacierda said.

He also recalled the "general rule" during Aquino III's time, in which the palace and the president get an advanced copy of "any report" from the National Economic Development Authority minutes before it's released to the public.

"Also there is a regular schedule of releases of the inflation rate and the GDP," Lacierda said, noting Marcos Jr.'s communications and economic teams should brief him "ahead of anyone."

Every first week of the month, the PSA releases its inflation report for the previous month.

Lacierda also said that Aquino III's then-NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan, whom Marcos Jr. handpicked for the same post in his own cabinet, coordinated with the palace on the release of inflation and gross domestic product figures.

"I got a feeling he was not briefed on the June inflation rate," he said of Marcos Jr. "This should be avoided in the future."

Department of Finance Sec. Ben Diokno, meanwhile, said he met with Marcos Jr. to clarify that his disbelief was "misunderstood."

"He was referring to it as a full-year figure when in fact the year-to-date average inflation rate is 4.4%," Diokno said, adding that the figure is within the forecast of the DBCC and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The finance chief said they will continue to grant fuel subsidies to the most affected sectors, as well as the importation of products that are in short supply.

'Not that high' memes

Marcos Jr.'s "not that high" remark has since become fodder for memes.

On Facebook, award-winning author Joselito De Los Reyes, who's also the coordinator of the creative writing program of the University of Santo Tomas, depicted a bus ride situation asking whether the remark can be used.

Nephrologist Dr. Carlo Trinidad, meanwhile, imagined saying the remark to a patient reporting on their creatinine levels. 

Teacher and registered nurse Mia Magdalena joked about using the statement when looking at the weighing scale.

For user @RedefiningFil, the remark can also be used toward the electricity bill.

A certain Leland Dela Cruz, meanwhile, was more critical of Marcos Jr.

"Talk about living in an alternative reality. Or someone who doesn't feel inflation," Dela Cruz said.