Who's got the numbers?

"Filipinos really need financial assistance during this pandemic."


Largely out of the public eye since stepping down as Speaker of the House of Representatives in October last year, Alan Peter Cayetano appears to have done the seemingly impossible, that is, keep his popularity ratings up, according to the latest OCTA Research survey.

The Cayetano camp compared the results of the OCTA survey held from July 12 to July 18 with the previous one in January this year and were surprised by the results, since most of the potential candidates for the highest elective position in May next year either experienced a decline or remained the same.

For instance, Senator Grace Poe fell from 13 percent to 10 percent; Senator Manny Pacquiao from 12 percent to 10 percent; and Senator Bong Go from 6 percent to 4 percent. Vice President Leni Robredo, whose statements and activities had been extensively covered by the media in keeping with her position as the second highest elected official, remained at 5 percent.

The same survey showed only two other possible candidates whose numbers increased: Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who currently occupy the first and second spots, respectively. Mayor Duterte-Carpio's ascent from 22 percent to 28 percent is not surprising as various sectors are reportedly trying to convince her to run for president despite her father's ardent wish for her to refrain from doing so. Bongbong Marcos seems to have a strong following, but his increase was nominal, from 12 percent to 13 percent.

We're told by the Cayetano camp that with media coverage almost nil since he gave up the Speakership to help keep the House united and focused on passing the crucial 2021 budget, he almost doubled his numbers and jumped from seventh place in January to fifth, landing in the same ranking as the vice president. That speaks volumes about what he has done in recent months, focusing on his key advocacies away from the media spotlight.

The Cayetano camp came up with a clever name for their group—Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso. The group's initials mimic that of the Korean pop supergroup that's been featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, quite possibly to attract more from the younger generation. They have been going to various places to distribute P10,000 as ayuda or financial assistance to selected beneficiaries, including the sari-sari store owners, barangay health workers, and other sectors who need to lift themselves up by the bootstraps amid economic hardship during the pandemic. This is intended to highlight the need to pass the 10K Ayuda Bill the group filed on February 1 which aims to provide much-needed cash assistance to every Filipino family. This is not a dole-out, Cayetano insists, but rather a “direct stimulus” that will put money in the pockets of Filipinos to allow them to buy their basic needs and such spending would allow the economy to gradually recover.

At present, Cayetano has been leading the crafting of a five-year economic recovery plan that goes beyond the Duterte administration. He has been inviting potential candidates to join him in this effort, urging them to agree to implementing even 80 percent of the resulting plan whoever wins the presidency in 2022. This is of huge importance to our recovery because it will let the people know exactly where the country is going no matter who the next President will be.

What distinguishes Cayetano from other politicians, according to his supporters, is that he wants to keep his ears close to the ground and to do something about the double whammy posed by the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis instead of simply talking about it and making empty promises. This could be the reason why his survey numbers are going north instead of south.

The stark reality now is that the number of jobless Filipinos has increased to 3.76 million in June, equivalent to 7.7 percent of the labor force, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The agency reported that the labor force population—the number of employed and unemployed Filipinos aged 15 and above who were active in the labor market —further rose to 48.84 million in June, or up by about 390,000 from May’s 48.45 million.

In April, when the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was again imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, 4.14 million Filipinos were reported jobless, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.7 percent during the month.

The number of underemployed or those looking for jobs with larger incomes or longer working hours also climbed to 6.41 million in June or 14.2 percent of the labor force population from 5.49 million or a record-low rate of 12.3 percent in May.

The PSA noted that quarantine levels played a big part in job generation and losses, with localized and less stringent restrictions in May and June allowing the gradual return of jobs.

The statistics tell us one thing: Filipinos really need financial assistance during this pandemic, and stable and decent jobs as the economy begins its long, hard climb back to business as usual. (Email: [email protected])

Topics: Ernesto Hilario , House of Representatives , Alan Peter Cayetano , OCTA Research survey
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