Just a trim

Even as the price of rice went up and NFA rice was virtually non-existent, even as oil prices were going up as well, partly on account of the tax reforms passed by Congress late last year, the effects of which have caused prices of other commodities to increase, and even as the peso lost strength, which the middle class wrongly considers a barometer of good economic health, President Rodrigo Duterte’s numbers in the first quarter survey of SWS remain “very good” at a net satisfaction rating of +56, down from +58 in December last year.

In effect, there was just a trim, not a cut.

Duterte’s political capital is intact.  His Metro Manila numbers are statistically the same, Mindanao is as excellent as before, the Visayas went up by 12 points, even.  But for some reason, Balance Luzon went down by 11 points.

If we look at the income classes, the middle class and the higher income brackets are very good, but the dip was more pronounced among the poorest of the poor, the “E” bracket.  Attribute that to inflation.

We await how the Pulse Asia’s first quarter reading compares. It should be out next week.  Particularly interesting is how the members of the Duterte Cabinet are rated by the public.  I would assume that the ratings of the Senate are steady, and likely too the House, though a dip is expected.  As for the Supreme Court, we expect the ratings to be lower, considering the tug-and-pull happening in the fortunes of its chief-on-leave.

Pulse would also be announcing a list of senatorial wannabes, and how they rank in terms of both awareness and acceptance at this point in time.  Those who want to join the ranks of the political elite will have to ponder their chances quite seriously.  After all, they will need to file their certificates of candidacy by the first week of October, which is a scant five months away.

But more on that when the results come out.  For now, it is comforting to note that the President’s satisfaction ratings are holding steady, still “very good.” And while he does not really care much about such indicia, his staff must use these as a guide on how they can optimize the use of public trust in our leader as they push for change and meaningful reforms.  Conversely, hand in hand with other measurements of the public pulse, they can also use the numbers as a guide on where failures of governance are dragging leadership down.

* * * 

Finally, a national ID system will be in place within this year.  Good sense has triumphed over the inanities of the leftist hecklers and fear-mongers.

As a senator who has been pushing for the adoption of a national ID for the last 20 years said, “if Duterte were not the President, this would perhaps still be in the realm of debate and unfounded fear-rattling.”

* * * 

Up here in Taiwan, tons of onions, millions of pieces if you want to measure thousands of tons, are being given away for free by the farmers, particularly in Changhua County.

Due to a bumper crop and the law of supply and demand pushing down prices, farmers would actually lose money if they were to bring their excess produce to the market, so rather than the onions rotting in their fields and warehouses, they would rather give these away.

In Nueva Ecija upon our central plains, however, onion growers are in crisis because army worms have eaten their crop to waste.  It is estimated that more than half of their expected produce has been lost.

Last year, cabbage growers in Taiwan were the ones complaining about low prices because of a bumper crop, and were asking government to subsidize their losses.


Back home, prices of vegetables (and meat and fish) are always on the high side, making our people consume too much rice as “lamang tiyan.”

* * *

But Taiwan, and so do Japan and South Korea, has become an “aged society.”

Not aging, but aged.

Those over 65 years old accounted for 14.05 percent of the total population as of end March, or one out of seven people in the country is considered a “senior” citizen. (We have a lower senior citizen threshold at 60).

According to the World Health Organization, if a society’s aging rate exceeds 7 percent of total population, then it is an aging society.  If the rate exceeds 14 percent of population, it is “aged.”

According to Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior, old people accounted for more than 7 percent of its population in 1993.  Twenty-five years later, with life expectancies getting longer and birth rates going down, Taiwan has become an “aged society.”

Taiwan’s percentage of old people is only lower than that of Japan and about the same as South Korea.  But the aging of Taiwan is growing at an alarming rate, and it is estimated that by 2025 or thereabouts, a fifth of the population would be above 65 years.  Then, it becomes a “super-aged” society.

Because of over-population however, the Philippines is a “very young” society, with the median age a low 23.4 years.

While Taiwanese express “awe” each time we tell them about our young population, our policy-makers are in a quandary as to how to generate enough jobs to make our young people productive and working.

Taiwan hires migrant labor, with Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines ranking the three highest sources.  We have close to 150,000 OFW’s working mostly in Taiwan’s factories. 

As Taiwan reaches the “super-aged” status, the need to hire more foreign workers becomes acute.  And while that may sound good for our army of unemployed, how I wish our domestic economy could grow fast enough to absorb our million entrants to the work force each year. 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , National Food Authority , World Health Organization , Congress , Pulse Asia , Changhua County
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