Author Topic: Philippine economy under the spotlight in Duterte's third year  (Read 1744 times)


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Philippine economy under the spotlight in Duterte's third year
Foreign investment suffers despite improvements in public security

JUN ENDO, Nikkei staff writer
June 30, 2018 11:00 JST

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte, who began his third year in office on Saturday, has touted the Philippines' improved public security with his widely publicized crackdown on drugs. But his ambitious infrastructure program has made little headway as his strongman approach is discouraging foreign investment.

Duterte has also made progress to end a decades-old rebellion of Moro rebels in the predominantly Islamic south. More than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed during 50 years of conflict, and a new breed of extremists inspired by the Islamic State in the Middle East killed nearly a thousand people last year.

Despite a siege of Marawi City last year, Duterte has prodded Congress to enact a basic law to establish a new autonomous region called Bangsamoro on the southern island of Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Law, which grants wider autonomy and expanded powers, is widely seen as a first step toward lasting peace.

"If there are trillions of cubic meters of oil, do not be worried at all. The government will not claim that, that's yours," Duterte said during a recent dialogue with Muslim residents of Davao City on Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the communist party's armed wing, the New People's Army, frequently clashes with the military, which is therefore skeptical about peace talks. But Duterte hopes he can open a path to peace and security.

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Duterte also remains popular among the general public. An opinion survey conducted by the pollster Social Weather Stations at the end of March found his net satisfaction rating -- based on the number of people satisfied with his administration minus the number dissatisfied -- stood at 56%. That suggests that while many criticize specific policies, a significant majority supports his hard-line stance, which has included the repeated sacking of bureaucrats suspected of corruption.

Yet Duterte's heavy hand is starting to take a toll on the Philippine economy. In 2017, foreign direct investment fell by half from the previous year to 105.6 billion pesos ($1.97 billion) on an approved basis. In the first quarter of 2018, FDI decreased nearly 40% from the same period a year earlier.

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