2016 Elections: Postscripts
During the campaign period leading to the May 9 presidential derby in the Philippines, Duterte’s opponents were quick to point out that he had no well-defined economic policies in the platform of government he was presenting. His political opponents pounced on this for they perceived the absence of a solid plan for the country’s economy as a weakness of the then candidate for the most powerful seat in the government.
Even the members of the Makati Business Club, an organization of the richest and most influential businessmen in the Philippines, lamented Duterte’s vague economic agenda. They dismissed as lacking in substance, at least in their point of view as businessmen, the speech he delivered when they invited him in to speak in a forum. They expected him to give definitive statements about the conduct of business in the country should he he win (which he did.)
But notwithstanding the absence of clear economic programs (and an assortment of issues hurled against him) the mayor of Davao City garnered almost 16 million of votes to secure a clear mandate from the Filipino electorate. Surprisingly, he has more votes than Aquino, the outgoing president who also tried to dissuade the voters from choosing Duterte by emphasizing that should he win all the economic gains the country had in the past 6 years will be wasted.
In an interview conducted a few hours after the May 9 elections, when the results were unequivocally showing that he would be the 16th President of the Philippine Republic, he unabashedly admitted that economics is not his strong suit. Thus, he intends to hire the best economic minds. To Aquino’s credit, the presumptive president even hinted at continuing the incumbent government’s economic programs.
But why then that the voters did not mind the absence of clear-cut economic policies in Duterte’s to-do lists as a candidate then. The answer is simple…the problem is not the economy. If it is, the people should have voted for Roxas, the economist.
The truth is the problem of the Philippines is not the economy. The economic woes of the country are just the results of deep-seated social problems and failures of existing systems that cannot be solved by an economist. Such problems can only be uprooted by a strong leader, a leader who cannot be manipulated by scheming politicians and businessmen. The Philippines needs a leader who has a strong political will, a political will that cannot be bent by influential lobbyists. Thus, the Filipino voters cast their lot on Duterte.
The programs Duterte are putting in his presidential pipeline are not economic policies per se but they have profound economic implications. For many times that he mentioned in his campaign sorties that it is the job of the government to create an environment that is not only conducive to economic development but where the citizens and foreigners also feel safe and secured.
By eradicating corruption and red tape in all the branches of government he will be creating an atmosphere favorable for the conduct of business and would eventually make the country a haven for both domestic and foreign investments. Specifically, he wants to shorten the processing of papers when transacting business with any agency of the government.
By obliterating criminality and drugs, he will make the citizens focus on improving the quality of their life without fear of getting victimized by petty criminals. Parents can rest assured that their children will not become a victim of drugs.
By increasing the salaries of policemen and soldiers he will strengthen law enforcement which is sorely needed in the maintenance of peace and order. He will boost the morale of policemen and soldiers and make them feel more dignified.
By increasing the salaries of teachers he will make them more effective in the delivery of education which, undoubtedly, is a key component in national development.
By promoting Federalism, he will bring a final solution to the country’s century-old Muslim separatist problem. There will finally be equitable allocation of government resources where people in their respective regions will finally have a chance for self-determination.
It is hard to dispute that all these acts will bring tremendous economic benefits, indirect it may be.
He clearly pointed out that the days of unscrupulous elements in society are numbered, that people should avoid committing acts inimical to the interest of the Filipino, that people can do anything that makes the Filipino comfortable, and that nobody will be allowed to do things that will make his countrymen uncomfortable.
In the interview on May 9th, he proclaimed that he has nothing in mind but the interest of the Filipino people, and nothing follows.