THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that inflation rate in Western Visayas slowed down further to 3.3 percent in February from 4.1 percent in January this year.
The deceleration which started in December 2018 mirrored the national trend. Inflation started to slow down to 5.7 percent in December 2018 after peaking in September 2018.
The latest figure ranked the region as the third lowest in terms of inflation rate in the country last month.
The labor sector, however, is expected to remain apprehensive despite the slowdown in the increase in consumer prices.
Wennie Sancho, labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas earlier said there is a need to look out for other economic developments.
Sancho, also the secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa), said inflation rate measures a lot of goods and services aside from food and fuel.
“The sugar import liberalization will negate the declining trend on inflation,” he said, stressing that the possible drop in the prices of sugar is seen to affect the livelihood of those dependent on the commodity.
The PSA, on its website, reported that inflation rates in four commodity groups in Western Visayas have declined.
These are food and non-alcoholic beverages - from 5.9 to 5.1 percent; alcoholic beverages and tobacco - 17.5 to 11 percent; clothing and footwear - 0.9 to 0.8 percent; and furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house - 2.4 to 1.6 percent.
Those for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, and health, meanwhile, increased from 2.3 to 2.5 percent and 1.3 to 1.4 percent, respectively.
The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Zamboanga Peninsula posted the lowest inflation rate, 2.5 percent.
It was followed by Eastern Visayas with 3.1 percent inflation rate.
Like Western Visayas, Soccsksargen is third lowest also with 3.3 percent.
The highest inflation rate of 5.3 percent was noted in Mimaropa, higher than the average inflation rate of 3.8 percent for areas outside National Capital Region (NCR).
NCR, on the other hand, posted an inflation rate of 3.8 percent for February this year.
Moreover, Western Visayas' inflation rate is lower than the country's headline inflation which decelerated further to 3.8 percent.
Inflation in January 2019 was higher at 4.4 percent, while it was the same as the February 2019 annual rate in February 2018.
The PSA said slowdown in inflation remained to be primarily attributed to the slower annual increase in the index of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 4.7 percent.
Annual gains were also slower in the indices of other commodity groups, except for communication and education, it said.
The education index continued to post a negative annual rate of 3.8 percent. Inflation for communication remained at 0.4 percent, it added.
The government achieved its target inflation rate 11 months after settling above its target band.
The latest inflation rate was the lowest since March 2018's 4.3 percent and within the central bank's 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent range projected for February.
It was the fourth consecutive month that consumer prices growth decelerated after an episode of record-high inflation recorded last year.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, said the Palace was pleased to know that inflation continues to drop, as predicted by the current administration.
Panelo pledged that the government is bent on looking for ways to further ease inflation.
"The Palace welcomes this positive development as proof that the macroeconomic policies of the Duterte administration have been effective in addressing soaring prices," he said.
"We expect further improvement and disinflation as we continue to remain vigilant in monitoring the prices of basic goods used by ordinary Filipino consumers," Panelo added. (with reports from SunStar Philippines)