What we expect of Duterte

The Aquino administration has highlighted the solid economic growth of the Philippines during the recent campaign period. Many in the business circle and the academe agreed with the record, but for many of the Filipinos who trooped to the polls, the economic gains did little to improve their lot.

The millions of voters who elected Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency ignored the statistical gains posted by the Philippine economy during the term of President Benigno Aquino III. Poverty rates remain high, with majority of the Filipinos still unable to get jobs. Duterte exploited the rising discontent among the voters, who felt they did not benefit from the economic growth in the last six years.

Aquino’s economic growth record simply did not resonate with many Filipinos, as shown by the results of the presidential elections. The economic expansion failed to create a trickle-down effect on majority of the Filipinos, who have also to contend with the nightmarish traffic in metropolitan areas, inefficient mass transportation system and rising crime incidents.

Many Filipinos were disenchanted and did not want the status quo to continue. They called for a more substantive and inclusive economic growth, which Duterte hopefully would deliver.

With a mandate, Duterte must now draw up an economic plan that can produce faster results and ease the dissatisfaction of the population. He can start with the construction of long-delayed infrastructure projects, especially roads, that will provide access to the countryside and rural folks.

The rural sector, or the areas hardly reached by decent roads, has contributed little to the gross domestic product. Farmers and fishermen, for one, do not have clear access to the market of their produce due to bad roads and poor port facilities. They easily succumb to the middlemen or traders, who purchase their goods at cheap prices.

Economic growth will become inclusive once those in the countryside improve their income and purchasing power. It is the challenge that Duterte must address to avoid the failures of past administrations.

Source: The Standard