The Duterte Administration – Part 2

The Philippines still needs to address the core issues affecting the economy; poor agricultural productivity, the absence of an export manufacturing base and the low level of foreign direct investment. The issues related to these are the continuing corruption in the bureaucracy, the high cost of power and labor, labor militancy and the protectionist provisions in the economy which benefit the oligarchs.

The first half of the Duterte administration ended last June 30. Come July 22, it begins the last half of its term before it bows out on June 30, 2022. The first half went by quickly because the President set a fast pace. He was all over the country, went on foreign trips and conducted regular Cabinet meetings.

In his talks during the campaign for the midterm election the President told the public that he had fulfilled most of his campaign promises. The notable exceptions were corruption and federalism. Duterte admitted to helplessness in minimizing corruption but those with critical minds can easily argue that he hasn't done enough. No Cabinet level official who resigned has been prosecuted for the malfeasance he or she was accused of. The same is true with other Presidential appointees.

The President has also given up on federalism. Despite the formation of an inter-agency task force last year, the issue was never tackled by the President during the campaign sorties of PDP-Laban. He focused more on demolishing the Otso-Diretso Senatorial slate. These sorties were the perfect opportunity for the President to directly make his case to the public. However, during his attendance at the Appreciation Party of outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the President reiterated his call for Constitutional amendments. He failed to specify what amendments precisely but one can surmise it has to do with the economic provisions which have been brought up before during the Arroyo administration.

The Philippines still needs to address the core issues affecting the economy; poor agricultural productivity, the absence of an export manufacturing base and the low level of foreign direct investment. The issues related to these are the continuing corruption in the bureaucracy, the high cost of power and labor, labor militancy and the protectionist provisions in the economy which benefit the oligarchs.

There is also the need to pass the remaining tranches of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, the institutionalization of the BBB by the passage of legislation mandating that at least five percent of the GDP be spent on infrastructure development, the amendment of the BOT Law and the Freedom of Information Act to enable more transparency in government.

Among the ASEAN member countries, the Philippines is the only one of the original members which still doesn't have a digitization road map in place. The President only appointed former Sen. Gregorio Honasan to the DICT post last week. It remains to be seen if his Undersecretaries will include this in their priorities but they actually should give the fast pace of technological innovation. Digitization of the bureaucracy will help in minimizing corruption and facilitating the public's transactions with government agencies.

The last half of any administration is the legacy-building period. Given the President's record-high approval ratings he should maximize the use of his enormous political capital to push for more reforms in the last three years of his term. His policy direction will be made public when he delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22.

The public is hoping for more reform from the President they have given much trust and confidence in.

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About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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