Lea Salonga’s inflation comments inflamed social media criticism

October 10, 2018 - 1:30 PM
Tony Award-winning star Lea Salonga. (ABS-CBN PR/Allan Sancon)

World-renowned musical actress Lea Salonga is now being scored for her recent comments on the inflation problem in the country.

The Tony Award-winning musical star is being accused of having a detached stance on the matter following her comments during a media interview after her 40th anniversary concert in September.

Salonga at the press conference admitted that her family had also been affected by the hike in prices but questioned why citizens were blaming the current administration for the inflation problem and asked why the previous administration was not blamed for price spikes in the past.

“You gotta wonder, we’re angry about this, we have to see if it’s happened in previous administrations before and if we got angry then, too. And if it happened before and you didn’t get angry, you might have to examine why that is, Salonga reportedly said during the interview.

Some administration critics have accused Salonga of bias for refusing to blame the administration for the price spike.

Other opposition supporters pointed out how protests during the administration of Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III evidenced how Filipinos had always clamored for a solution to surging prices.

The Inflation problem

Inflation in September 2018 surged to a nine-year high of 6.7 percent.

Among those who have blamed the administration’s economic managers is Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay), who said that the inflation problem was caused by their lack of foresight.

Salceda, an economist by profession, argued that prices of fish and rice should have been stabilized earlier.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno meanwhile in a recent interview with CNN Philippines said that the National Food Authority was to blame for the surge in food prices.

Opposition lawmakers in July 2018 blamed Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, the product of the administration’s tax reform initiative, for accelerating the effects of inflation and the burden it placed on consumers.

Jun Neri, BPI lead economist, said that while TRAIN law and domestic policies play some role, inflation was primarily due to rising oil prices. The Philippines, which does not produce oil unlike some of its neighbors, is more heavily affected by by oil prices in the global market.

Other officials have blamed various factors for the inflation problem.

Duterte in September 2018 blamed the inflation spike on the trade war launched by United States President Donald Trump on Asian economic giant China.

READ: Is Trump to blame for spiraling Philippine inflation?

The tariff row between the world’s two biggest economies has also been blamed for surging prices worldwide.

The country’s economic managers that same month explained that damage to agricultural regions caused by monsoon rains also played a part in the spike in food prices.

The onslaught of Typhoon Ompong later that month, which is believed to have caused P26.3 billion in damages to Northern Luzon, has also been blamed for the continued price surge due to the supply disruptions in the region.

The team of economic managers working on the inflation problem recently called for the passage of the Agricultural Tariffication Act and reduction of local oil and energy demand, saying that such measures could help curb the upsurge.

Days after criticism on her statements mounted, Salonga tweeted that she was willing to learn more about economics, calling for experts on the subject to discourse with her.

Salonga was previously chastised online for a friendly stance toward the family of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, whose two-decade regime was marked by numerous rights violations against political dissidents.