In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. boasted a 6.4% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2023.
He failed to mention, however, that GDP growth during this period is the “lowest registered” since the Philippines started recovering from the pandemic in the second quarter of 2021.
Marcos began his one hour and 11 minute-long SONA by laying down economic figures:
“While the global prospects were bleak, our economy posted a 7.6% growth in 2022—our highest growth rate in 46 years. For the first quarter of this year, our growth has registered at 6.4%. It remains within our target of 6-7% for 2023. We are still considered to be amongst the fastest growing economies in the Asian region and in the world.”
VERA Files Fact Check flagged Marcos’ statement that the Philippines is the “fastest growing economy” in Asia and in the world at least twice this year.
(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos wrongly states that PH is ‘leading’ in economic recovery in Asia-Pacific, world and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Data contradict Marcos’ claim that PH economy is ‘fastest growing’ in the world)
In a May 11 release of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), national statistician Claire Dennis Mapa reported that the 6.4% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2023 was “the lowest growth registered after seven quarters when the country started to recover from the pandemic in the second quarter of 2021.”
Mapa said the factors in the production side that contributed to the “slowdown in growth” were mining and quarrying (-2.2%), public administration defense (1.5%) and human health and social work activities (7.5%).
GDP is the value of all goods and services produced domestically over a certain period of time. Growth rate is measured by the annual percentage change in GDP at constant prices.
While the growth figure was indeed within the 6% to 7% target for the first three months of 2023, it must be noted that real GDP assumptions were adjusted during the 183rd Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) meeting in December 2022. Its previous target was 6.5% to 8%.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier explained that while the quarter’s growth figure is lower than the 8% year-on-year growth, “the economy is normalizing its previous trend.”
“The better-than-expected first-quarter performance this year implies that we are returning to our high-growth trajectory despite the various challenges and headwinds we have faced,” he added.
A positive percentage change in annual real GDP “can be interpreted as an increase in the average standard of living of the residents in a country or area,” according to the United Nations Statistics Division.
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Philippine Statistics Authority, GDP Expands by 6.4 Percent in the First Quarter of 2023 (archived), May 11, 2023
Philippine Statistics Authority, Press Conference on the 2023 First Quarter Performance of the Philippine Economy, May 11, 2023
Philippine Statistics Authority, GDP Expands by 7.2 Percent in the Fourth Quarter of 2022, and by 7.6 Percent in Full-year 2022, Jan. 26, 2023
Department of Finance, 182nd Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) Press Briefing, July 22, 2022
United Nations Statistics Division, Glossary – amaWebClient, accessed on July 25, 2023
United Nations Statistics Division, UN SDG Indicator 8.1.1: Annual growth rate of real GDP per capita, accessed on July 25, 2023
World Bank, Economy, accessed on July 25, 2023
World Bank, GDP growth (annual %), accessed on July 25, 2023
(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.)