Inspirational Message

Arsenio M. Balisacan, PhD


National Economic and Development Authority


Joint Opening Ceremonies of the 33rd National Statistics Month

and the 15th National Convention on Statistics


Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Quezon City

3 October 2022 

Honorable Senator Win Gatchalian,

Undersecretary and National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa,

Former National Statistician, my good friend, Dr. Lisa Bersales,

National Statistics Coordination Board Secretary General Romulo Virola,

PSAI President Rose Bautista,

and former PSA Deputy National Statistician Romeo Recide

Friends and colleagues from the government, academe, and private sector,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

Foremost, congratulations to the Philippine Statistical System (PSS) for organizing the month-long celebration of the 33rd National Statistics Month (NSM), and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), for spearheading the NSM preparations with the 15th National Convention on Statistics (NCS) as its kick-off event. Congratulations also to the members of the NSM and NCS Steering Committee and Subcommittees who gave their time and provided valuable inputs during the preparations for these activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic truly brought with it a health and economic crisis of unprecedented scale. Especially during the early days of the crisis in 2020, our country and world’s future was clouded with much uncertainty. As we imposed painful lockdowns, questions as to what lies ahead occupied our minds. Even so, our society seized various opportunities that opened up in the midst of the crisis.

First, we witnessed how the public and private sectors can work together to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Government agencies continued to provide critical public and social services and coordinated its policy responses with the private sector through various virtual platforms. The PSA was able to resume its operation immediately due to the exemption granted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Second, we also saw how businesses, both large and small, shifted their operations to the digital sphere by capitalizing on work-from-home arrangements, reorganizing their commercial practices, and fully utilizing online platforms. Private individuals and organizations also demonstrated their corporate social responsibilities by implementing innovative strategies to provide support services targeted to the most vulnerable segments of society.

In the education sector, students were introduced to a wide array of reference materials available online and educators employed creative and ingenious means to deliver their lessons.

In all of the things I have mentioned, technology and data were embraced as tools and resources to support economic activity and protect socioeconomic welfare.

With the aid of statistics, especially in monitoring COVID-19 cases, the public sector, in consultation with experts and stakeholders, was able to formulate policies to mitigate the scarring impact of the pandemic. One example is how the Bayanihan programs were introduced to pump prime and revive the economy from the significant contraction it had suffered in 2020. In 2021, the economy rebounded with a 5.7-percent growth rate in its gross domestic product or GDP. For the first half of 2022, our economy expanded by an average of 7.8 percent, indicating that our recovery is proving to be robust and we are returning to the high-growth trajectory we enjoyed prior to the crisis.

This year’s theme for the 33rd NSM and 15th NCS, “Boosting the Country’s Recovery with Informed Decisions, Better Policies,” asserts that policymakers, armed with correct information and data, can design and implement better policies that will help our country sustain its recovery from the scarring inflicted by the pandemic and overcome the significant challenges we are facing today.

The challenges are indeed daunting, given the domestic and external risks to growth. In particular, high inflation in food, transport, and energy, disruptions in global and local supply chains, coupled with foreseen recessions and slowdowns of major trading partners, our tight fiscal space and limited absorptive capacity, all remain challenges that require the decisive execution of solutions that are informed by careful analysis.

We can and must overcome them as a people. The 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Marcos Administration identifies both the short-term and medium-term priorities in order for the country to return to its high-growth trajectory and reinvigorate high-quality job creation and rapid poverty reduction. Towards these ends, we at NEDA, in collaboration with experts and stakeholders in a whole-of-nation approach, are presently crafting the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), our country’s development blueprint, anchored on the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda. The PDP will flesh out the administration’s priorities by identifying key development and sectoral issues, laying out strategies, programs and policies, and proposing legislative outputs that would contribute to the achievement of our socioeconomic targets.

Let me emphasize that a robust and responsive statistical system is of paramount importance to the design and execution of our plans and strategies moving forward. Indeed, we cannot make progress if we do not know where we presently stand and where we are going. The reliable and timely production of relevant statistics help inform and shape our policies such that we are able to precisely identify where interventions are most needed, which segments of the population will be affected by implemented reforms and by how much, and how these strategies will ultimately contribute to our desired socioeconomic targets for indicators such as poverty, GDP per capita and GDP growth, inflation, and employment.

Uninformed and unfounded policies do much to harm the public by creating unintended consequences that often take years or decades to mend. With our tight fiscal space, we in the public sector have a paramount responsibility not only to ourselves, but to future generations of Filipinos, to ensure that our resources are spent in the most impactful manner possible and to safeguard the sustainability of our economic progress. Thus, harnessing data through new technology will be a key strategy in targeting our interventions and making sure that the economic welfare of the most vulnerable – including the poor, farmers and fisherfolk, and the youth – is protected in the short term, even as we adhere to prudent macroeconomic management in the medium and long term. The National ID, coupled with the government’s efforts to digitally transform our bureaucracy will enable us to achieve this objective.

Our statistical system has improved much over the years thanks to your vision as well as valuable and persistent efforts. However, much can still be done, and the issues our country will face will only become more and more complex. New approaches and technologies using novel sources of data are becoming common practice. Surely, the circumstances of the past two years have provided us enough impetus to learn and adapt, to refuse the temptation to be content with the way we are currently doing things. As a public servant and scholar, I hope that you, statisticians and professionals in government, the academe, and the private sector can collaborate and collectively identify how we can build on the significant progress and advances we have made as we recognize how indispensable statistics and knowledge generation are towards the realization of sound and impactful public policies.

With this in mind, let us work together to achieve our long-term aspirations as a Filipino people: that of a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay.

Congratulations once again, and a good day to everyone!


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