EDITORIAL - SONA guideposts
(The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Jobs, wages and consumer prices are the principal issues that Filipinos want President Duterte to tackle when he delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address. This is according to the survey conducted nationwide in June by Pulse Asia, with the results released last week in time for today’s SONA.

The first three issues have dominated the main concerns in similar pre-SONA surveys in recent years. This time, however, another topic has landed fourth, ahead of even the war on drugs and the need to improve the agriculture sector: sovereignty issues and the Philippine policy toward China.

According to the survey, taken from June 24 to 30 covering 1,200 respondents, increasing wages and lowering the prices of goods were the top issues that people wanted President Duterte to address in his SONA. Creating more employment and livelihood opportunities ranked third.

The President is still weighing the options on creating and preserving jobs as he ponders the fate of the bill waiting for his signature, which imposes stringent rules on contractualization. In his SONA, he is expected to pitch for the approval of several economic measures that are meant to make the country more friendly to job-generating investments.

Less clear is his policy toward China and his protection of national sovereignty. Survey after survey has shown that his policy in this area is highly unpopular among Filipinos, and not only among those who are directly affected such as marginal fishermen. In the June Pulse Asia survey, the issue topped even jobs, wages and prices among respondents in Metro Manila. In Mindanao, the issue ranked sixth.

The results cannot be easily dismissed by the administration as these are the same pollsters whose surveys have shown continuing high approval ratings for the President. The issues raised in the survey can serve as guideposts for the path that the President would be taking the country in the second half of his term.

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