“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” – Oscar Wilde
The government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to shift to deficit spending to the tune of hundreds of billions of pesos in investments in infrastructure for this financial year alone. This follows decades of underspending and a steady decay in existing infrastructure and a failure to develop new works where they were much needed spanning successive previous administrations.
Key to the success of this spending spree is the political will within the Duterte administration that emanates from the very top. The infrastructure requirements of the Philippines are no-brainers. The size and quality of transport infrastructure for so long has not added up with the reality of the the way the country is spread across a vast archipelago of more than 7,000 islands. Thus it is not surprising that the bulk of spending will be on expanding the Philippines’ land, sea, and air traffic handling capability.
Though seen to be not fully “hands-on” in the management of the national economy preferring, instead, to let the “bright boys” of his economic team run the show, Duterte seems to be solidly behind the bold push into mega-expenditure…
His economic chiefs are pinning growth plans on infrastructure works to create jobs, stimulate the economy and attract manufacturers put off by high power prices and poor roads and ports that create transportation bottlenecks that eat into profits.
The government has targeted infrastructure spending of 5.4 percent of GDP this year, rising to 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022, through highways, bridges, ports, ports, airport upgrades and rural and city train lines.
Indeed, Malacanang reports Duterte had attracted almost $2-billion dollars worth of investments during his recently-concluded official visit to Middle East countries during the Easter break demonstrating his commitment to do his part to make good on what Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia described as the coming “golden age of infrastructure”. It is noteworthy that the Inquirer Editor himself, normally critical overall of the Duterte administration, had described Duterte’s meeting with Middle East leaders as a “productive trip”…
The list of signed business agreements is impressive. According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, a total of $469 million in deals were signed in Saudi Arabia, $250 million in Bahrain, and $206 million in Qatar. That adds up to almost a billion dollars. The agreements covered different sectors, Lopez said, including property development, medical tourism, ports, warehouses, agri-industrial economic zones, and “pharmagenerics.” When implemented, the deals would generate 26,000 jobs, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
While Duterte’s “war on drugs” attracts the most media mileage owing to the simplicity of the emotional hooks surrounding this issue that lend well to “influencers” who like stirring irrational social media hysteria, his economic programme — which requires more deliberate critical analysis — will likely be his greatest legacy. Nonetheless, holes are already showing all over the logic in his critics’ rabid focus on the easy target that is Duterte’s unusual methods applied to his drug war. The quintessential failure of thinking in his critics’ monomanic harping on Duterte’s alleged “human rights violations” is encapsulated in the following statement issued by University of the Philippines Student Regent Raoul Manuel…
“Honors are not deserved by a president whose regime killed thousands of citizens and leaders of progressive groups,” Manuel said. “Honors must not be given to a president that declares all-out war against his people to quell their struggle for just and lasting peace, and reimposes death penalty to legitimize the killing of the poor.”
The fact is, there is no direct evidence that supports any claim that Duterte’s “regime” had “killed thousands of citizens and leaders of progressive groups.” Interesting, nonetheless, that on this single non-logical pillar rests the entire activist sloganeering campaign of the anti-Duterte mob. Nebulous at best, fraudulent and intellectually dishonest at worst — specially when considering the above example comes from a “student regent” of the country’s premiere state university.
The economic programme of the Duterte government, on the other hand, is fully transparent, Duterte’s backing of it clearly evident, and the results judiciously reported and cited even by mainstream media outlets known to be biased against the Duterte “regime”. While the war on drugs may impact the lives of a small proportion of the Philippines’ population, Dutertenomics is expected to benefit tens of millions of Filipinos.[Photo courtesy Inquirer.net.]
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