The first 100 days and counting: The bigger picture

ariel nepomuceno_1Various survey results released during the last two months have shown an upbeat, positive attitude among our countrymen about the current state of their lives under this new leadership.

The last Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey delivered a net satisfaction rating of +64 percent, classified as “very good,” barely three months into the Duterte presidency. This net satisfaction rating was very good, both in urban and rural areas, and traverses across socioeconomic classes, too. On the other hand, another SWS self-rated poverty survey showed that only four in 10 Filipino families, which is 42 percent, or about 9.2 million Filipinos, consider themselves poor.

This positive perception is encouraging, as it can systematically inspire, motivate and drive citizens to work hand in hand with the government to achieve the kind of society we all are dreaming of—one that is economically prosperous and stable.

Strong economic fundamentals

The sound, resilient and consistent macroeconomic fundamentals of the country, coupled with the strong domestic institutions that our economic managers have sustainably built in the past, can shield us from a very erratic global market.

However, there are news reports about investors’ negative sentiments. Though they are very commonplace not only in the midst of a new government, but even in between and at the end of such government, depending on crucial turning points brought about by policy shifts, new pronouncements and some unavoidable historical circumstances that impact on market perception, we have to validate and address such sentiments or even criticisms.

Inflation is kept in the range of 2 percent  to 3 percent, while the dollar reserves are consistently maintained to cover at least three to six months of our imports. The annual $20-billion remittances from our overseas workers and residents keep us immune from regional or even global glitches. Meanwhile, our GDP is sailing at 6 percent to 8 percent, an impressive sustained performance in the region.

Conflicting views

Reviews from within and outside are a healthy mix of approval and rejection of how we are journeying so far under President Duterte. A big yes goes to peace and order brought about by strengthening and solidifying the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to combat the illegal-drugs menace, insurgency, corruption, lawlessness and criminality. Despite some criticisms, our renewal of friendships with nontraditional allies heralds a new chapter in international relations.

Basic concerns

The economic management team, led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, is manned by competent, dedicated and experienced leaders and public servants.

Diversity in the Duterte Cabinet is good, since it is a starting point for unifying divergent political and economic interests at the policy-making and implementation level. The President himself is undoubtedly a “champion” of the impoverished and marginalized, putting him in a unique position to drive change where it matters.

The promising and hopeful indicators should be balanced with firm, practicable and sustainable action points that need to be done if only to bring lasting change to our country. The top concerns of the typical Filipino were revealed in a recent survey conducted by Pulse Asia, where 46 percent of 1,200 respondents echoed the need to address wages, more job creation, effects of inflation, corruption and reducing criminality.

Unfortunately, the Philippines was removed from the top third of the latest Global Competitiveness report. However, it was noted that there are serious discussions with the government on how to truly begin and implement structural reforms aimed at improving the Philippines’s competitiveness. Crucial would be changes in the bureaucracy, science and technology, and infrastructure.

More reforms

The private sector is also pushing for tax reforms and the removal of red tape in the various requirements needed to comply with regulations that deal with doing business. President Duterte’s overwhelming support for these initiatives was lauded by the business community. The hope is that this prevalent positive inertia and immense popularity of the President can be channeled to an institutionalized partnership between government, the private sector and the masang Pilipino to make things happen. No more ningas kugon.

It will be done.

So far, so good. This is what the majority of the Filipino populace is saying. Baby steps, but we will
get there.


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