VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo mixes up inflation figures

Read this fact check in Filipino

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo messed up his inflation figures in a television interview.

STATEMENT

Asked about the 6.4 percent inflation rate in August, Panelo on Sept. 7 told CNN Philippines’ Cherie Mercado the figure is wrong and partly blamed the media. He said:

Alam mo iyong inflation rate, baka nagkakamali iyong mga headline diyan eh...Baka nagkamali lang sila ng basa (The headlines probably got the inflation rate wrong. They probably misread the information).

Source: CNN Philippines, Panayam kay Panelo tungkol sa inflation, Sept. 7, 2018, watch from time code 0:09-0:31

Citing the government’s economic managers, he then said the inflation rate was 4.6 percent:

“Panelo: Ang nabasa ko from the group chat ng ano- ng mga cabinet economic managers… Ang sabi nila eh 4.6 lang daw ang- ang inflation rate (I’ve read from the group chat of the economic managers… they say the inflation rate is only 4.6 percent).

Mercado: Not 6.4?

Panelo: No, not 6.4.”

Source: CNN Philippines, Panayam kay Panelo tungkol sa inflation, Sept. 7, 2018, watch from 0:50-1:03

To Mercado’s follow-up question, Panelo read from the economic managers group chat he earlier referred to, and said:

“Ito, ito, nakita ko na. Ito ha (Here, here, I found it. Here). ‘The appropriate inflation figure in the table above is 4.8. Rate for January-August 2018.’”

Source: CNN Philippines, Panayam kay Panelo tungkol sa inflation, Sept. 9, 2018, watch from 2:20-2:23

He added:

“‘Previous administration (sic) had even higher inflation.’”

Source: CNN Philippines, Panayam kay Panelo tungkol sa inflation, Sept. 9, 2018, watch from 2:24-2:25

FACT

Panelo confused the year-on-year inflation rate which indeed surged 6.4 percent in August, with the 4.8 percent year-to-date inflation rate.

The year-on-year rate compares August 2018 with August 2017 figures; the year-to-date from the start of the year to present, or January 2018 to August 2018.

A joint statement by the country’s economic managers themselves read:

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the headline inflation rate accelerated to 6.4 percent year-on-year (YOY) in August 2018, faster than the previous month’s 5.7 percent and the 2.6 percent of the same period last year. This brings the year-to-date inflation rate to 4.8 percent, beyond the upper-band of the government’s inflation target of 2 to 4 percent, and slightly below the BSP’s revised full-year inflation forecast of 4.9 percent.

Source: Department of Finance, Joint Statement on August 2018 Inflation, Sept. 5, 2018

Panelo also refuted his own claim about previous administrations having higher inflation rates, when he told Mercado:

Sabi nga ni (According to Economic Planning) Secretary Ernie Pernia doon sa (in the) group chat, ‘Note, different base years overtime still rates not directly comparable.’

Source: CNN Philippines, Panayam kay Panelo tungkol sa inflation, Sept. 9, 2018, watch 3:03-3:06

The matter of base years is a related but different issue altogether.

The Philippine Statistics Authority in February updated the base year for the Consumer Price Index, an indicator used in calculating inflation rates, from 2006 to 2012.

“Rebasing is necessary when the basket of the reference year no longer represents what is commonly purchased by the households,” the PSA said.

Sources

CNN Philippines, Interview with Salvador Panelo, Sept. 7, 2018.

Department of Finance, Joint Statement on August 2018 Inflation, Sept. 5, 2018.

Philippine Statistics Authority, PSA Updates the Base Year for Consumer Price Index for All Income Households to 2012 from 2006, Feb. 22, 2018.

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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