SONA 2022 Promise Tracker


One year into office, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is yet to deliver “substantial” progress on his promises to improve the Philippine economic situation. But the administration’s economic managers stay optimistic that the country “remains firmly on track” toward post-pandemic recovery.

Of the 19 bills Marcos enumerated in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2022, Congress has not passed the bills on budget modernization, passive income and financial intermediary taxation, valuation reform, and government financial institutions unified initiatives to distressed enterprises for economic recovery, which had been identified as priority measures by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Marcos also struggled to meet the medium-term targets for inflation, foreign exchange rate and national government debt.

Inflation hit 8.7% in January, the highest recorded since November 2008, and slowed down to 5.4% in June. The average peso-dollar exchange rate in 2022 was P54.47, depreciating by 9.59%, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. As of May, government debt has climbed to P14.10 trillion, which is about 62.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Some of Marcos’ most controversial economic decisions, however, were absent from his inaugural SONA.

For example, the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill was heavily criticized particularly on the initial provisions that included pension funds–Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)–as primary funding sources. (Read VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The Maharlika Investment Fund explained)

While the government’s economic team deemed the MIF as a “vehicle for economic growth,” economists from the University of the Philippines Diliman described it as “still beyond repair” for having unclear goals and “vague” financial and economic returns. As of July 6, the measure was submitted to the president for signature.

(Read VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Unpacking Maharlika Investment Fund’s urgent legislation)

Meanwhile, Marcos’ recent designation of Larry Gadon as anti-poverty czar drew flak from advocacy groups. One day after his appointment, the Supreme Court unanimously disbarred Gadon for his repeated profane and misogynistic remarks against journalist Raissa Robles.

Find out more about how the president fared in his 15 promises on the economy here:

Implement sound fiscal management; set in place tax administration reforms to increase collection

“We will implement sound fiscal management. Tax administration reforms will be in place to increase revenue collection.

Our tax system will be adjusted in order to catch up with the rapid developments of the digital economy, including the imposition of value-added tax on digital service providers.

The initial revenue impact will be around P 11.7 billion in 2023 alone. Tax compliance procedures will be simplified to promote ease of paying taxes.”

(SONA 2022)
  • The House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 4122, imposing a 12% value-added tax (VAT) on digital transactions in the Philippines, such as the host of online auctions and platforms, subscription-based online services, supplier of goods and online services. Its Senate counterpart, SB 250, filed by Sen. Pia Cayetano on July 11, 2022, is pending at the committee level. Cayetano said in her explanatory note that the proposed law “does not impose new taxes.” It only “strengthens and streamlines” the authority of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in collecting VAT from resident and non-resident digital service providers according to the National Internal Revenue Code.”
  • As of April 2023, tax revenues amounted to P1.12 billion which, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) says, is “about 87.9% of total revenues.”
  • In relation to fiscal governance, Marcos  approved Executive Order (EO) No. 29 or the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) on June 1,  amending EO 55. The IFMIS covers “all financial transactions of the government” and “ensures more timely and efficient management and monitoring of public funds” across all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the government, including government-owned and -controlled corporations. Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said in a June 2 press release that the IFMIS “will be able to eradicate corruption, and foster bureaucratic efficiency and sustainability” since it “allows the efficient monitoring of disbursements and appropriation of public funds.”
Maintain disbursements at above 20% of GDP in 2022 (P4.95 trillion) and 2023 (P5.98 trillion)

“Expenditure priorities will be realigned, and spending efficiency will be  improved to immediately address the economic scarring arising from the  effects of COVID-19, and also to prepare for future shocks.

Disbursements for 2022 to 2023 will be maintained at above 20 percent of  gross domestic product or P 4.955 trillion and P 5.086 trillion,  respectively, to ensure continuous implementation of priority programs.

Disbursement will further increase over the medium-term from P 5.402 trillion or 20.7% of our GDP in 2024 to P 7.712 trillion or 20.6%  of GDP in 2028.”

  • By December 2022, the national government spending stood at P5.16 trillion, which is 23.4% of GDP. As of April 2023, BSP reported that disbursements reached P1.46 trillion or 19.5% of GDP. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) noted that this is 1.3% or about P19.2 billion more than the disbursements for the same period in 2022.
  • The biggest expenses for the first quarter of 2023 were recorded in infrastructure and other capital outlays. This includes an “accelerated implementation of various infrastructure projects” as well as “direct payments made by development partners” for foreign-assisted rail projects of the Department of Transportation, according to DBM.
Grow real GDP by 6.5% – 8% every year until 2028

“6.5 to 7.5% real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022;  6.5% to 8% real GDP growth annually between 2023 to 2028

The economy is expected to grow by 6.5 to 7.5% this year as we  continue to reopen the economy while considering the recent external  developments.”

(SONA 2022)
  • As of May 2023, the real GDP posted a growth of 6.4%,  the “lowest growth registered” since the second quarter of 2021.
  • On two separate occasions this year, VERA Files fact-checked Marcos’ statements that the Philippines is the “fastest growing economy” in the world and in the Asia Pacific. Data on the GDP growth rate as of 2022 shows that the Philippines stood at 7.6%, the ninth highest among “developing” Asian countries and third in Southeast Asia.
Have 9% or “single-digit” poverty rate by 2028

“Measurable medium-term macroeconomic and fiscal objectives include the following headline numbers. These are based on forecasts that are consistent with the guiding principles of coherence of strategies, policy discipline and fiscal sustainability: […] 9% or single-digit poverty rate by 2028.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2021 show that the poverty incidence among the population is 18.1% or about 19.99 million poor Filipinos. About 13.2% of Filipino families with five members fail to earn a minimum income of P12,030 to meet basic food and non-food needs.
  • The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the highest poverty incidence of 29.8% among families, while the lowest poverty incidence among families were from the National Capital Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Region III, and Region IV-A.
  • In a June 8 public forum, Ralph Van Doorn, senior economist for the World Bank in the Philippines, said poverty incidence in the country is expected to fall to 13.5% in 2023 and 10.5% in 2025. But Van Doorn said this means poor households are just above the international poverty line of US$3.65 income per day and “one single shock can push them back,” as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Marcos appointed lawyer Larry Gadon as presidential adviser on poverty alleviation on June 26. The next day, the Supreme Court unanimously disbarred him. As anti-poverty czar, Gadon is expected to “design and implement comprehensive programs to address the root causes of poverty” with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.
Have 3% national government deficit to GDP ratio by 2028

“Measurable medium-term macroeconomic and fiscal objectives include the following headline numbers. These are based on forecasts that are consistent with the guiding principles of coherence of strategies, policy discipline and fiscal sustainability: […] 3% National Government deficit to GDP ratio by 2028”

(SONA 2022)
  • According to the BSP, the deficit to GDP for the first quarter of 2023 is at 4.8%, compared to 6.4% for the same period in 2022. The BSP sees the deficit declining further to 5.1% in 2024.
  • The World Bank noted that in the first quarter of 2023, public expenditures declined by about 3% since local governments had a lower revenue base in 2020. Public revenues also declined by about 1.3% “amid slower GDP growth and as authorities changed the timing of VAT payments.”
Have less than 60% national government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025

“Measurable medium-term macroeconomic and fiscal objectives include the following headline numbers. These are based on forecasts that are consistent with the guiding principles of coherence of strategies, policy discipline and fiscal sustainability: […] Less than 60% National Government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025.”

(SONA 2022)
  • The Philippines’ outstanding debt reached P14.10 trillion as of May, up by 1.3% over the previous month. The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said this is primarily due to “the net issuance of domestic and external debt and the depreciation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.”
  • As of May, debt to GDP ratio was at 62.1%. Economists pointed out that this is above the international threshold for debt sustainability of 60%. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Is the Philippine debt still ‘manageable’?)
  • In March, VERA FIles Fact Check flagged Marcos’ misleading posts that the national government’s borrowing decreased from P2.58 trillion in 2021 to P2.16 trillion in 2022, hence his administration’s budget management policy was effective. His posts refer only to gross borrowings or new debt that the government  incurred in 2022. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim on decreasing govt debt misleads)
Have gross national income per capita of at least US$4,256 and attain “upper middle-income” status by 2024

“Measurable medium-term macroeconomic and fiscal objectives include the following headline numbers. These are based on forecasts that are consistent with the guiding principles of coherence of strategies, policy discipline and fiscal sustainability: […] At least US$4,256 income (GNI) per capita and the attainment of upper middle-income status by 2024.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Data from the World Bank as of 2022 show that the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is US$3,950, placing the Philippines as a lower middle-income economy. As of the first quarter of 2023, GNI per person is at US$986 at current prices. Given the year-on-year growth rates of GNI and the population, the BSP said the annual GNI per capita in 2023 is pegged at US$4,420.
  • To reach “upper middle-income” status, the country’s GNI per capita must be between US$4,466 and US$13,845. GNI measures the total income that a country receives from its residents and businesses that are located inside or outside the country. GNI per capita is the value of GNI divided by the country’s population.
  • In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, Marcos said the Philippines remains “on track” to reach upper middle income status by 2023. But Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and World Bank country director Ndiamé Dapo recently forecast that it is achievable by 2025. (Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim that PH ‘remains on track’ to reach upper middle-income status by 2023 needs context)
  • Sonny Africa, executive director of IBON Foundation, explained that GNI does not reflect “the reality of low family incomes and earnings, lack of secure and decent work, inadequate education, nutrition and health, poor housing, lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity, lack of assets, and pervasive vulnerability, exploitation and violence.”
Keep inflation at between 2.5% and 4.5% in 2023; return to target range by 2024 until 2028

“The average inflation for 2022 is projected to range from 4.5 to 5.5 percent,  following the uptick in fuel and food prices as a result of the ongoing Russia Ukraine conflict and the disrupted supply chains.

It is slightly adjusted to 2.5 to 4.5 percent in 2023, and is seen to return to  the target range of 2.0 to 4.0 percent by 2024 until 2028.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Headline inflation as of June slowed down to 5.4% from 6.1% in the previous month, the PSA reported. From January to June, the average inflation rate was 7.2%. The slowdown is attributed to food and non-alcoholic beverages, transport and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels.
  • The Development Budget Coordination Committee has adjusted its inflation assumption range to 5.0% to 6.0% in 2023 from the previous 5% to 7% range “partly due to a consistent slowdown in inflation” in the first quarter of the year.
  • Marcos signed Executive Order No. 28 that renamed the Economic Development Group to the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) on May 26. The IAC-IMO serves as an advisory body that will keep inflation “within the government’s targets,” especially food and energy. It is co-chaired by the Department of Finance (DoF) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Attain Philippine peso exchange to average at between P51 and P53 per US dollar in 2022; and P51 – P55 per US dollar in 2023

“The Philippine peso is projected to average between P51 [and] P53 per US dollar in 2022 and P51 to P55 per US dollar from 2023 onwards due to aggressive monetary policy tightening by the US Federal Reserve, market aversion amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and again, increased global oil prices.”

(SONA 2022)
  • The peso-dollar exchange average for 2022 failed to reach Marcos’ goal. According to BSP’s data, the average peso exchange rate for 2022 was at P54.48 per U.S. dollar compared to only P49.25 in 2021. In October 2022, the peso fell at an average of P58.82 to the dollar, the highest monthly average recorded based on BSP’s data.
  • For the first six months of 2023, the average peso exchange rate was at P55.25 per U.S. dollar. As of July 5, the peso exchange rate closed at 55.37, according to the Bankers Association of the Philippines’ data.
  • In June, the Development Budget Coordination Committee narrowed its peso-dollar exchange rate assumption to P54 to 57, compared to the P53 to 57 projection in April.
  • Businesses expect that the peso will depreciate against the U.S. dollar in the second quarter of 2023, but may appreciate in quarter three and the next 12 months, a June BSP survey showed.
Achieve 7% growth in exports in 2022, 6% in 2023 to 2028. Grow exports and imports by 6% in 2023.

“Lastly, exports of goods are expected to grow by 7% in 2022, and 6% from 2023 to 2028. On the other hand, imports of goods are projected to grow by 18% in 2022, 6% in 2023, and 8% from 2024 to 2028.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Data from the PSA show that the total export sales in 2022 amounted to $78.98 billion, reflecting an annual increase of only 5.7% (or $74.65 billion) from 2021. On the other hand, the total imports grew by 17.4% with $137.22 billion.
  • For 2022, the total external trade amounted to $216.20 billion, an increase from $191.58 billion the previous year. The country’s trade deficit last year amounted to $58.24 billion, indicating a 38% increase from the previous year’s.
  • PSA data for January to April 2023 shows a decline in the country’s export and import earnings. The PSA reported a decrease of 14.9% in the total export earnings, amounting to $21.77 billion compared to the $25.57 billion in January to April 2022. The total imports were also valued at $41.05 billion, representing a 6.7% decrease from the $43.98 billion in January to April 2022.
  • PSA data also showed an annual decline in the country’s trade deficit for April 2023 at US$4.53 billion. It decreased by 14.9% from US$5.32 billion in April 2022.
  • On June 6, Marcos approved the Philippine Export Development Plan for 2023 to 2028 and launched it on June 16. It aims to improve the country’s export industry, which, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said, is “lagging behind” its neighboring countries. The plan outlines three strategic actions to develop the export clusters: address production constraints; develop a strong innovative export ecosystem; and increase the Philippines’ mindshare in the global market.
Pass Budget Modernization Bill

“Pass Budget Modernization Bill.”

(SONA 2022)
  • The Budget Modernization Bill is among the LEDAC-priority bills that both the House and the Senate have yet to pass. In January, Pangandaman said pursuing the bill is on “top of their list” for 2023.
  • SB 2045, filed by Sen. Imee Marcos,  seeks to institutionalize the Cash-based Budgeting System (CBS) under EO 91, s. 2019 to strengthen the fiscal discipline in the allocation and use of budget resources. Under the CBS, all authorized appropriations’ obligation and disbursement will be available only until the end of each fiscal year, while payments may be settled until the first three months of the following fiscal year. The Philippines previously followed an obligation-based budgeting system that allows contracts awarded within the fiscal year to be delivered even after the end of year.
  • SB 2045 and SB 1020, filed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, have been pending with the Finance Committee since May 8, 2023 and Sept. 5, 2022 respectively. All 11 versions in the House (HB 5809, 5266, 4650, 4260, 4114, 3419, 418, 19, 8087, 7749, 6384) are pending since 2022.
Pass Tax Package 3: Valuation Reform Bill

“Pass Tax Package 3: Valuation Reform Bill.”

(SONA 2022)
  • On Dec. 11, 2022, the House of Representatives approved HB 6558 or the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act (RPVAR), the third package of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) and a LEDAC-priority measure.
  • The Senate, however, has yet to pass RPVAR. Joint hearings on SB 314, 693, 897, 1018, 1473, and HB 6558 were held on March 9 by the committees on Ways and Means and Local Government and Finance.
  • The RPVAR Act mandates the DoF Bureau of Local Government Finance to “develop, adopt, maintain and implement uniform valuation standards which shall be used by all appraisers and assessors in the LGUs and other concerned parties in the appraisal or valuation of lands, buildings, machinery and other real properties for taxation and other purposes.”
  • Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who authored HB 54, said the bill will “address the issues plaguing the current valuation and assessment system in the country, to maximize and optimize local revenue generation and ultimately, to achieve the avowed goal of the LGC [Local Government Code] to make LGUs become genuine partners towards national development and progress.”
Pass Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA)

“Pass Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA).”

(SONA 2022)
  • On Nov. 14, 2022, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading HB 4339, formerly known as the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA), which amends and repeals certain sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
  • The counterpart measures in the Senate – 900, 1347, 1364 – are pending at the committee level . On Feb. 7, 2023, Sen. Raffy Tulfo also filed SB 1848, which is pending at the Committee on Ways and Means.
  • PIFITA is the fourth package of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program and also among the administration’s LEDAC-priority measures. If enacted, it will simplify financial sector taxation and make tax compliance easier and more equitable. It seeks to reduce the number of tax bases and rates applicable to passive income, financial intermediaries and financial transactions from 74 to 52; gradually reduce the tax rates on royalties and interests from 20% to 15% from 2023 to 2026; repeal exemption of foreign currency deposit from interest income tax; and remove excise tax exemption of pick-up trucks introduced under the Tax Reform Acceleration Inclusion or TRAIN law.
  • The DoF estimates to collect about P25.2 billion through PIFITA from 2024 to 2028.
Pass Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE)

“Pass Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE).”

(SONA 2022)
  • The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries approved on third and final reading the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distress Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill on Dec. 15, 2022.
  • Its Senate counterparts – SB 411, 506, 674, 1129, 1182 – remain pending at the committee level since 2022. In January this year, Sen. Joel Villanueva filed SB 1640 but it has not been acted upon.
  • If enacted, the bill will strengthen the capacity of the Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to provide assistance to medium, small, and microenterprises (MSMEs) and other strategically important companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will mandate the LBP and DBP to expand their credit and rediscounting facilities to affected MSMEs in the agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing and service industries.
Pass amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law

“Pass amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Amendments to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 6957 or the Build-Operate-Transfer Law were approved on Sept. 15, 2022 and took effect on Oct. 12, 2022. RA 6957, amended by RA 7718, provides a framework for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) infrastructure development.
  • The revisions in the IRR include: providing a fairer definition of material adverse government action; revising definition of Reasonable Rate of Return; reinstituting the tariff setting and adjustment regime of the 2012 IRR; and deleting clause prohibiting arbitration arising from regulatory acts and decisions in the existing IRR.
  • On Dec. 12, 2022, the House Committee on Public Works and Highways approved the consolidated HB 6527 on third and final reading, strengthening PPP for infrastructure projects and other development projects. Last May 23, the Senate filed its version, SB 2233, which President Marcos certified as urgent.
  • Sen. JV Ejercito said on May 24 that the bill will provide a unified legal framework for PPP both at the national and local levels. This bill will unify the BOT Law, NEDA Joint Venture Guidelines, Local PPP, Joint Venture ordinances, guidelines issued by agencies with special charter and Supplemental Toll Operation Agreements by virtue of presidential decrees 1113 and 1894.

Find out how Marcos Jr. fared in other sectors

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ANC 24/7 YouTube channel, Cuunjieng on Marcos’ first year: He hasn’t done anything bad, but also done nothing substantial, July 3, 2023

RTVMalacañang YouTube channel, Media Interview, June 29, 2023

National Economic and Development Authority, Official Statement of NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan on Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s First Year in Office, June 30, 2023

Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, LEDAC Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) for the 19th Congress, June 2, 2023

Department of Budget and Management, Macroeconomic Parameters Assumptions, FYs 2022-2028, July 8, 2022

Philippines Statistics Authority official YouTube channel, Press Conference on January 2023 Inflation, Feb. 7, 2023

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine Peso per US Dollar exchange rate, June 2023

Bureau of the Treasury, National government debt recorded at P14.10 trillion as of end-May 2023, July 4, 2023

National Economic and Development Authority, Joint Statement by the Economic Managers on the Maharlika Investment Fund, June 13, 2023

UP School of Economics, Maharlika Investment Fund: Still Beyond Repair, June 2023, Maharlika bill up for Marcos signature; 19 bills on Sona ‘wish list’ pending, July 6, 2023

ABS-CBN News, Maharlika already sent to Marcos for approval: Zubiri, July 4, 2023

The Philippine Star, Congress sends Maharlika bill to Malacañang, July 6, 2023

Kadamay Facebook page, KADAMAY demands immediate removal of Gadon as antipoverty czar, June 29, 2023

ANC 24/7 YouTube channel, Headstart: Ibon Foundation’s Sonny Africa on Gadon’s appointment as poverty alleviation adviser, June 17, 2023

Supreme Court of the Philippines, Court Unanimously Disbars Atty. Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon for Misogynistic, Sexist, Abusive and Repeated Intemperate Language, June 28, 2023

On implementing sound fiscal management

On maintaining disbursements at above 20% of GDP

On growing real GDP by 6.5% – 8% every year

On having single-digit poverty rate

On having 3% national government deficit to GDP ratio by 2028

On having less than 60% national government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025

On having gross national income per capita of at least US$4,256

On keeping inflation at between 2.5% and 4.5% in 2023

On attaining Philippine peso exchange to average at between P51 and P53 per $US1 in 2022

On achieving 7% growth in exports in 2022, 6% in 2023 to 2028

On passing Budget Modernization Bill

On passing Tax Package 3: Valuation Reform Bill

On passing Pass Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act

On passing Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery

On passing amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law 

(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.)