MANY people questioned President Duterte when he ran in the 2016 pressidential election because of lack of experience in running a national office. After all, his only experience as a chief executive was during his tenure as mayor of Davao City, which was not even in a major region like Metro Manila.
Even before the presidential election was over, when different surveys indicated that he was leading the other candidates, a lot of people predicted that the Philippine economy would lose whatever gains it had achieved under previous administrations and would end in chaos under a Duterte presidency.
It did not happen. Instead, the Philippines is now being hailed as one of the leaders in economic growth in the world.
In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Philippines to be the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia and second fastest in the world over the next two years, as it remains resilient to external shocks.
In its latest World Economic Outlook, the multilateral lender has retained its GDP growth projection for the Philippines at 6.7 percent for 2018 and 6.8 percent for 2019.
The IMF’s latest growth forecast for the Philippines is the fastest among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the second fastest in the world next to India’s 7.4-percent growth for this year and 7.8 percent for next year.
China is expected to grow by 6.6 percent in 2018 and 6.4 percent in 2019, while Vietnam may grow by 6.6 percent in 2018 and 6.5 percent in 2019.
The IMF says the strong growth forecast for the Philippines would be fueled by robust domestic demand and higher investments.
The strong global growth of 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019 will also provide a favorable external environment for the Philippines’s export sector, remittances, as well as the business-process outsourcing sector.
The President’s critics have not stopped looking for ways to discredit the Chief Executive, despite the high performance rating and popularity that he continues to enjoy among Filipinos and the noticeable progress of the economy.
In contrast to the failure by previous administrations to pursue an economic agenda separate from political and other issues, President Duterte created an economic team that focuses on implementing the Chief Executive’s ecconomic program, including the massive P8-trillion to P9-trillion infrastructure program, dubbed “Build, Build, Build.”
I think Duterte is a management man. He lets the economic team handle the economic program, while he focuses on the more difficult ones, issues that previous presidents failed to address or at least were afraid to confront. These include drugs, and peace and order.
These are the neglected areas that needed attention. So what’s happening is that all aspects of governance are being addressed simultaneously.
Before his election as president, we did not know the extent or seriousness of the drug problem.
During the turnover ceremony at the Philippine National Police, the President said the antidrug campaign resulted in 130,000 arrests and 1.2 million drug suspects that surrendered.
Authorities also shut down shabu laboratories and seized billions worth of illegal drugs.
The President also showed strong political will when he ordered the closure of Boracay Island, one of the world’s most famous beach destinations, until it is cleaned up.
The dramatic way by which Boracay is being addressed is inspiring similar movement in other tourist destinations, and should benefit the tourism industry in the long run.
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