President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the Philippines is getting “poorer and poorer” contradicts the January presentation of former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the Duterte administration is enjoying a strong economic performance compared to previous administrations in his first two years in office.
In an interview right after he cast his vote in Davao City on May 13, the president was asked about his message to vote buyers and vote sellers. He said that the practice of vote buying has been an “integral part” of Philippine elections.
“For as long as the Philippines remains to be a poor country, for as long as the feudal system exists, lalo na sa rural areas aggravated by the communists ‘yon. We are becoming poorer and poorer. Nobody can till the land, improve the land, and the communists are asking for money, asking for food and everything.”
ABS-CBN News Youtube, Pres. Duterte talks to reporters after voting in Davao City, May 13, 2019, watch from 34:05 to 34:34
In January, former Budget Secretary and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Diokno showcased the accomplishments of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in a DuterteNomics 2.0 forum with fellow economic managers and infrastructure secretaries to discuss Duterte’s economic milestones and explain the progress of the Build, Build, Build program.
According to the press release, Diokno said Duterte’s administration posted “the highest growth in the first two years since President Corazon Aquino”:
“In 2017, the first full-year in office of President Duterte, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth reached 6.7%. This was followed by 6.2% GDP growth in 2018, making the Philippines one of the fastest-growing economies in the fastest-region in the world [the ASEAN region],” he said.
Diokno attributed the strong economic performance to the closer link between budget and plan; the adoption of budget and procurement reforms which he said has put pressure on agencies to be more efficient in the delivery of goods and services; and strong political leadership.
On May 10, the government’s economic team composed of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF) and DBM said in a joint statement that despite the limitations of the reenacted budget, the country still has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.
ABS-CBN News Youtube, Pres. Duterte talks to reporters after voting in Davao City, May 13, 2019
Department of Budget and Management website, DuterteNomics 2.0 showcases economic gains of the government, Jan. 30, 2019
Department of Budget and Management website, Joint Statement on Q1 2019 GDP growth Economic Team (NED-DOF-DBM), May 10, 2019
Google, Public Data GDP growth rate line chart. July 6, 2018
Philippine Statistics Authority website, PH GDP posts 5.6 percent growth in the first quarter of 2019, May 9, 2019