MANILA -- Malacañang on Sunday expressed hope that more Filipinos would continue to feel “more comfort this year” after a recent survey showed that self-rated poverty dropped to 50 percent in the last quarter of 2018.

The latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), conducted Dec. 16 to 19, showed 50 percent of Filipino families consider themselves as "mahirap (poor)", a drop from 52 percent in September 2018.

It also showed a similar drop of Filipino families rating their food as "mahirap" at 34 percent in December 2018 against 36 percent in September 2018.

Panelo attributed these improvements in consonance with the December 2018 decrease of inflation, registering at 5.1 percent -- the lowest since June 2018.

“With the President's tireless efforts in addressing and taming the inflationary effects of the prices of basic goods and commodities, we remain optimistic that many Filipino families would continue to feel more comfort this year,” Panelo said in a statement.

According to Panelo, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has predicted that inflation for 2019 is expected to slow down below 4 percent.

However, Panelo said despite this positive development, Malacañang said poverty among Filipinos is still high.

Citing Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Panelo said the country must sustain high economic growth that creates many jobs and reduce prices and inflation to eradicate poverty.

Pernia earlier said he is banking on the recent passage of the Rice Tariffication Bill in Congress and its nearing enactment to stabilize food prices and inflation rates.

The proposed law is expected to reduce rice prices by up to PHP7 per kilo.

Panelo, meanwhile, assured that the administration’s economic managers are pursuing policies and programs to reduce poverty and propel the country’s economic development. (PNA)