Friday, August 19, 2022

Duterte, a crime-fighting city mayor won a decisive victory in Philippines

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KOTA KINABALU: A crime-fighting city mayor won a decisive victory in the Philippine presidential election, as questions began to emerge over an economic and foreign-policy agenda that he only broadly sketched out in the campaign, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking, 71-year-old mayor of Davao,  who has won over voters with promises to crush crime and corruption, is virtually assured of victory, and will take office on June 30, after the Philippine Congress ratifies the result.

“Internationally, governments reacted with caution to the election of a local politician with no foreign-policy experience and who has so far set out no clear diplomatic platform,” it said.

During the campaign, Duterte said he was open to bilateral talks with China, while adding that Beijing would first have to recognize Philippine sovereignty over disputed areas—something analysts say Beijing would never do.

Quoting the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, the paper said, during a visit to Hanoi Tuesday, Daniel Russel was “confident that our two countries can continue to work closely together” following Mr. Duterte’s election.

“Under the current president, Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine economy grew by an average 6.2% per year, emerging as a top regional performer. But some business leaders fear that his mercurial successor—who is best known for his tirades and for pledging to eradicate thousands of criminals—will squander Mr. Aquino’s legacy of fiscal prudence and economic progress, just as foreign investment and tourist numbers have hit record levels,” it added.

However, Eugenia Victorino, an economist at ANZ Research, according to the paper, said Duterte’s strong track record in Davao, which he has run for three decades as mayor, should give businesses and investors plenty of confidence, according to WSJ.

“If you look at how Davao has fared compared with other cities, the development has been very positive, and a lot of foreign investment has poured into Davao, even though other cities in Mindanao have received very little,” said Victorino.

WSJ said,  Duterte told the Philippines’ top business people to “relax” during a speech in Manila last month, assuring them he would be a pro-business president.

“His broad plan for the economy is to create positive conditions for business by improving law and order. Beyond that, he aims to address the country’s long-running Communist and Islamist insurgencies, conflicts that have strangled economic progress across whole swaths of the Philippines, and to invest heavily in agriculture to boost productivity and reduce food prices, easing the burden on poor families,” it added.

It added, Duterte has also said he is ready to wrestle with one complex challenge which Aquino studiously avoided: the rewriting of the constitution to remove restrictions on foreign investment, a reform which foreign chambers of commerce in Manila say is long overdue. –

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