Sen. Bongbong says stats cited in SONA need fact-checking

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said the figures the President cited in his last State of the Nation Address need to be verified to see if they accurately reflect the situation in the country.

“The figures and statistics that we heard were surprising because they seem to diverge from what we are seeing on the ground. That’s why as soon as we get back to work, we will determine the basis of those numbers,” Sen. Bongbong said in a TV interview.

He said it is good to hear that the condition of some people who received assistance from the government had improved, as illustrated in the individual “success stories” the President cited in his SONA.

However, Sen. Bongbong said there is a need to determine if these individual success stories reflect an improvement in the condition of people who are similarly situated.

“For example, we were given statistics to portray an improving job situation in the Philippines. It’s hard to understand that because over 8 million Filipinos have left the country, and more are leaving to find jobs abroad,” the Senator said.

He added that the President’s claim of a low unemployment rate of 6.8 percent seems to be influenced by the revision of the classification of the unemployed.

Likewise, Sen. Bongbong suspects the supposed record high of foreign direct investments in the country that reached $6.2 billion in 2014 included “hot money”, or money placed in short-term investments that are pulled out by global investors once profits have been made.

“Those kinds of details are needed to determine to find out how the President came to the conclusions that he spoke about yesterday, so that we can find out the real situation,” he said.

Despite this, Sen. Bongbong acknowledged that the administration is correct in supporting programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for social assistance and the K to 12 for education.

However, the Senator said the CCT program would have been less prone to leakages if the administration utilized local government unit as partners instead of implementing it exclusively through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

As for the K to 12, Sen. Bongbong said implementation of the program needs to be improved. For example not one classroom needed for the K to 12 has yet to be built. Not one of the 39,000 new teachers that DepED (Department of Education) said they need has yet to be hired,” he noted.

He said that while these programs are laudable, it is not yet clear if these are achieving the expected results.

Sen. Bongbong also said blaming the previous administration for the ills that continue to hound the country has somehow undermined the credibility of the SONA.

“Of course we should not forget the past, but a leader should look towards the future, to what needs to be done to provide a better tomorrow for our people,” he said.

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