During his speech in front of the Filipino community in Jordan last Friday, September 7, President Rodrigo Duterte blamed U.S. President Donald Trump as the cause of the current inflation in the Philippines in light of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.
Trump recently declared he was considering tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods.
“The inflation (that is happening in the country now) is because of Trump,” Duterte stated, as reported by The Manila Times. “When he raised the tariff and banned other items, things got messy.”
In defense of the president, presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said almost the same words in his DZRH interview, on Tuesday, September 10.
“The truth is, the economy was a mess because of the trade war between U.S. and China, and we cannot deny that. Before that, everything was smooth-sailing and going according to plan, until the war happened to obstruct it. They say that when the giants clash, small countries like the Philippines become as affected. That’s what the president is trying to say.”
The TRAIN law inclusion
The president said that he’s not apologizing, and that there really is inflation in the Philippines. According to him, the government is already in action to solve it, meaning he’s letting the economic managers handle the problem.
He added, “I’m no better than the rest of them (economic managers). They’re (in fact) brighter than I am.”
Filipino consumers have felt the impact of inflation, with the drastic increase in prices of goods/services including fuel, public transport fare, and food necessities such as rice, vegetables, fish and meat.
The head of Save the Nation movement Antonio “Butch” Valdes said in his interview with The Manila Times, that the implemented TRAIN law is a factor in the problem. He said, “I think the president is being misled by his economic advisers on the reason for inflationary price increases. We had warned before that the TRAIN law, which increases indirect taxes, will impact negatively to the consumer. It’s tantamount to increasing the VAT (value added tax).”
He also suggested that Duterte should announce a State of Emergency rather than blaming others.
He said, “In light of present inflationary pressures caused by the TRAIN law, I strongly suggest that the president consider declaring State of Emergency on the power sector, address the scandalously high cost of electricity causing the most debilitating burden on the Filipino population, and review the disastrous effects of privatizing public utilities, which now threatens national security.”
Valdes explained that the additional tariffs imposed on our exports affects more U.S. consumers than Filipinos. That being said, countries affected of the economic policy shifts are China, Canada and Mexico. It is quite impossible for the Philippines to be included to the fiasco.
In addition to why Trump isn’t to blame, Carlos Manapat, head of the Department of Economics at the University of Sto. Tomas, said that the impact of tariff is limited to steel and iron, which is very far from the impact of inflation.
Inflation escalated in August to 6.4 percent, the highest since 2009 under then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which climbed to 6.6 percent. (AJPress)