Fact check: Some issues mentioned in Marcos' 2nd SONA lack context

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rattled off data again early on in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA). The speech, however, needs context on some national issues.

From claims of cheaper prices of commodities to growth rates, CNN Philippines adds information to some issues that Marcos mentioned in his speech, which lasted an hour and 11 minutes.

Lower prices of commodities

"Sa mga nakalipas na buwan, nakita natin ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bilihin sa iba't ibang mga sektor. Napatunayan natin na kayang mapababa ang presyo ng bigas, karne, isda, gulay, at asukal," Marcos said. "Malaking tulong ang Kadiwa stores na ating muling binuhay at inilunsad."

[Translation: In the past months, we have seen prices of goods dropping in different sectors. We have proven that the prices of rice, meat, fish, vegetables, and sugar can be reduced. The Kadiwa stores, which we relaunched, have been of big help.]

Triggered by supply issues, onion prices soared past ₱700 per kilogram in December. 

In February, prices of refined sugar in Metro Manila hit more than ₱100 per kilogram amid the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s importation fiasco.

While the prices of meat, dairy products and other basic goods have posted slower movements, the prices of onions and sugar are tapering from all-time highs.

Moreover, based on recent data, the Philippine Statistics Authority has begun recording a slight jump in rice inflation, with the cost of the staple expanding to 3.6% in June from 2.7% in January.

Also, Monetary Board member Bruce Tolentino raised concerns in May on the sustainability of Kadiwa stores.

He said while the program is effective in lowering the prices of goods and assisting local farmers, the project is only a "short-term solution” as the government has to sustain its funding.

First quarter economic growth

"For the first quarter of this year, our growth has registered at 6.4%. It remains within our target of 6% to 7% for 2023. We are still considered to be among the fastest growing economies in the Asian region and in the world," Marcos said.

The International Monetary Fund has reported that the Philippines is growing the fastest in emerging and developing Asia this year, upgrading its economic outlook for the country to 6% despite a projected slump in the global economy.

However, the 6.4% GDP growth in the first quarter was still a sharp two-point drop from 8.3% for the same period year-on-year. It was also slower than the 7.1% booked in the last quarter of 2022.

Marcos also did not mention that the 6.4% growth in the first quarter was the country's slowest since it exited the pandemic-induced recession in 2021.

The president was also mum on the national debt that reached ₱14.10 trillion as of May

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno previously downplayed the country's mounting debt, saying it should not be seen as a burden amid a growing local economy. 

China's access to the national grid

"We finally have a unified national grid, with the interconnection of the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao grids. The 'One Grid, One Market' will enable more efficient transfers and more competitive pricing of electricity throughout the country," Marcos said.

The president did not mention that system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is 40% owned by China's State Grid Corporation—a fact, which raised national security concerns from some lawmakers.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo warned of the risk of China turning aggressive with the country's energy system as it is in the West Philippine Sea, criticizing previous Chinese characters in the instructions for equipment in National Grid Power Corporation substations.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also backed a proposal to reclaim full control of the grid, saying transmission lines should not have been privatized in the first place.

Marcos also left out a number of key issues such as China's harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the "Love the Philippines" tourism campaign fiasco, public transportation concerns, annd the resumption of the International Criminal Court's probe the Duterte administration’s drug war.

READ: Issues left out in Marcos' second SONA

Marcos instead noted progress in improving the economy, warned agricultural smugglers and hoarders that their days are numbered, and called on lawmakers to pass more priority measures in the coming years.

READ: SONA 2023: Key takeaways from Marcos' second report to the nation

READ: LIST: Priority measures of Marcos in his 2nd SONA