Palace 'delighted' that survey results 'only' at 45% joblessness
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - August 17, 2020 - 3:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang was elated at survey results that suggested almost half of adult Filipinos experienced joblessness amid a mishandled coronavirus pandemic, saying as per usual that it could have been worse. 

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque lauded Filipinos for their resilience after they managed to keep joblessness at 45% instead of 100% despite a long-winding coronavirus-induced lockdown. 

"Ako po'y nagagalak na hindi tayo 100% nawalan ng trabaho kasi sa tagal po na nakalockdown tayo, I'm still surprised at our resilience, at 45 % pa lang po ang nawawalan ng trabaho. It could have been worse kasi nga po complete lockdown ang nangyayari sa atin," the presidential spokesperson said. 

(I'm delighted we didn't lose 100% of our jobs despite the extremely long time we were locked down. I'm still surprised at our resilience, and only 45% lost their jobs. It could have been worse because complete lockdown is happening to us.)

READ: National survey logs record-high unemployment in July

Roque's pronouncement was in response to a survey by the Social Weather Stations that found that joblessness in the adult labor force is now at a record-high 45.5%.

This is hardly a comfort to Filipinos who still do struggle with joblessness amid a pandemic, who as of April 2020 amount to 7.3 million Filipinos who lost their jobs according to the labor department — an equivalent of 17.7% unemployment rate, the highest unemployment rate the country has experienced.

The continuous thinking that it could have been worse, and other countries have had it worse anyway is becoming an oft-trumpeted statement in the Palace despite being unhelpful and unscientific, former communications technology undersecretary Eliseo Rio pointed out earlier on Sunday.

How Malacañang has responded to past surveys

Although his words are not exactly pregnant with empathy, the presidential spokesman's statement is nothing new as previous surveys from the polling institution indicate worsening circumstances for Filipinos who are still enduring the world's longest quarantine, none of which the Palace has acknowledged. 

READ: Palace on quality of life survey: All of us are having a hard time

This is the same logic that Roque employed in response to previous survey results, including:

  • One survey that recorded an "all-time low" in Filipinos' quality of life in the last 12 months—after 83% of respondents said they are worse off compared to last year saw Roque saying at the time that "it should be 100% [of Filipinos who are worse off] because there is COVID-19 and the economy was closed. That doesn't surprise us."
  • In response to a past survey that found that half of Filipinos think publishing anything critical of Duterte's administration is dangerous, Roque said that press freedom and freedom of speech in the country is alive and well because no cases have been filed against journalists
  • Another survey in June found that 43% of Filipinos are expecting their life to get worse in the next 12 months, Roque said: "the entire world, not only the Philippines, will face challenges."
  • One July survey found that some 5.2 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months. Malacañang used this to justify looser quarantine protocols to reopen the economy. 

Although it is careful to rebuff these surveys, Malacañang said in March that it was pleased with the “excellent” net satisfaction rating of the Duterte administration. 

READ: 60% of Pinoys think national gov't is most responsible for COVID-19 response — survey

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON HARRY ROQUE SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS
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