It was then incoming Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez who set the administration’s 0-10 point socio-economic agenda which was basically the key performance indicators (KPIs) set by the administration for what it expected to achieve by the time its term ended. I tend to disagree to the scores Inquirer columnist Peter Wallace laid out in his piece “Duterte’s 10-point agenda” with respect to ease of doing business (given an 80 percent score) and human capital development (also scored 80 percent) because both the Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) have been working at a snail’s pace to minimize corruption and red tape in the bureaucracy.
With regard to ease of doing business, Wallace writes…
The Duterte administration approved the ease of doing business law, which created the effective Anti-Red Tape Authority responsible for spearheading reforms in doing business. The Arta, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Information and Communications Technology have partnered to streamline and digitize business registration procedures at the local government unit (LGU) level, and are working on digitization at the national level.
…and on human capital development:
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The administration approved the free tertiary education law, a measure that provides free tuition and miscellaneous fees in state universities and colleges across the country. The Universal Health Care Act was passed. It is working, albeit affected by the corruption in PhilHealth (now being addressed). The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development was recently established. Being a new department, it’s currently reviewing all laws and issuances affecting the housing sector and what recommended measures for change are needed.
The implementation could have been better but the problem is still the bureaucracy itself. In terms of human capital development, our education system is faltering due to corruption and politics in the public education sector. Officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the teachers are going about their work by rote. Few innovations are being introduced and there is a lack of officials who are actually qualified. While they have the educational backgrounds, none of them have any vision at all with regard to workplace demand for Industry 4.0. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as a separate agency has been remiss in its function of upskilling and reskilling workers. It is again a chicken-and-egg problem; which comes first because the private sector also hasn’t done what it should in terms of digitization. This is one reason why the economy will take longer to recover as stated by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua. This also takes into account the Duterte administration not having made substantial progress in food and energy security.
2022 will be worse than 2021 because of higher interest rates, supply chain disruptions leading to shortages and increasing oil prices. This means inflation will be higher. As it is now, real inflation is not what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is quoting. But the ever-resilient Pinoy still makes do. This is probably the reason why we’re seeing long lines in voter registration. Filipinos want to make their voices heard through the ballot. The truth of the matter is we need radical socio-political and socio-economic reforms which can only be achieved by charter change. So far, no candidate has made his or her position on this issue known.
What Duterte has shown is that political will counts if you want to get things done. His single biggest achievement is in infrastructure development. The rehabilitation of the rail system will benefit commuters and entrepreneurs and will stimulate the economy. Travel throughout the country will also improve because of the additional roads and bridges. But there is a lot more to be done. This is why the Opposition is not an option in the coming election.
Voters should be discerning enough to elect those who have platforms of action and not those who insult their intelligence with overused motherhood statements. The pandemic-is-endemic mindset should be adopted and mobility should be eased by the use of QR codes to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. A unified contact-tracing system should be put in place. Businesses should spend for testing their employees. The digital infrastructure should be the priority of both government and the private sector. The same is true with regional development so that economic activities are not concentrated in the National Capital Region and its outskirts (NCR+) which results in paralysis should a lockdown be required again for future outbreaks. It’s easy to write about this but we all know how slow government is and that is still the main problem.
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