#DuterteLegacy | Think-tank debunks claims of economic growth

The real Duterte legacy, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation.

For Ibon, the widening gap between the rich and the poor illustrates best the state of the Philippine economy. The P4-trillion net worth of 40 richest Filipinos is equivalent to the income of 54 million Filipinos.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Using statistics from government agencies, independent think-tank Ibon Foundation belied claims of economic growth cited in Duterte Legacy campaign.

The Duterte Legacy is a communications campaign launched by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) with the aim of highlighting the accomplishments of the Duterte administration.

In a media briefing Jan. 24, Ibon Executive Director Jose Enrique Africa pointed out that poverty and unemployment have in fact worsened under the administration.

While government pegged the poverty incidence at 17.6 percent, Ibon estimates that 12.4 million Filipinos are poor. Africa explained that government economists came up with the low figure using the P71-poverty threshold. The think-tank used what they called as the “more realistic” P132-per-day poverty threshold.

Unemployment rate, meanwhile, is pegged by government at 4.5 percent. Using the same data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Ibon estimates that unemployment rate is 10 percent, or equivalent to 4.7 million jobless Filipinos. Africa explained that since 2005, government has stopped counting those already discouraged from seeking jobs in the country’s labor force.

Africa added that the 447,000 jobs generated annually under the Duterte administration is second to the lowest in the post-Marcos era, higher only to Estrada administration’s 411,000 jobs during the peak of the Asian financial crisis.

Africa said quality of jobs remains poor, with 27.8 million Filipinos in informal, non-regular or agency-hired work.

Agriculture and manufacturing, which could generate more jobs, are on the decline since the 1980s, Africa said. “Philippine agriculture suffers from terminal decline…Filipino manufacturing is next to nothing right now,” Africa said.

‘Short-sighted’

Africa lamented at the government’s “short-sightedness” in dealing with the problem of slow economic growth.

Looking at the gross domestic product from 2000 to 2019, Ibon said the sources of growth were overseas remittances, business process outsourcing (BPO) and foreign direct investments (FDI). Since 2011, Africa said these sources have continued to weaken.

Relying on external factors to boost the economy is not sustainable, Africa said. Foreign investments, he said, are not integrated in the local economy. “They can pack up and leave anytime,” he said.

“There are no growth drivers within the economy,” Africa said, referring to agriculture and local manufacturing.

Instead of boosting the country’s agriculture, Africa pointed out that government has continued to neglect it, with only 3.5 percent share in the 2020 national budget. Worse, government has liberalized the Philippine agriculture, resulting in loss of jobs and growth decline in the sector.

For Ibon, the widening gap between the rich and the poor illustrates best the state of the Philippine economy. The P4-trillion net worth of 40 richest Filipinos is equivalent to the income of 54 million Filipinos.

“If they [government economic managers] do not accept the gravity and extent of the problem, they will continue to have wrong solutions,” Africa said. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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