Duterte hurting Philippine economy, lawmakers say

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2016 09:34 PM

MANILA - Partymates and allies of former President Benigno Aquino III feel his successor, Rodrigo Duterte, wasted the economic gains achieved under the past administration.

The lawmakers blamed Duterte’s incendiary rhetoric as the value of peso against the dollar hit a seven-year low and foreign investors were pulling out of the stock market.

“During the Aquino administration the perception worldwide is our country is one of the brightest stars in Southeast Asia but I think it has lost steam because of several reasons, one is the reckless utterances of the president, and second is the pagkaibaiba nung mga statements ng mga opisyal natin sa gobyerno,” Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said.

Erice said Duterte’s foreign policy is also hurting the economy.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman for his part, said, "from bright star to a falling star…the reckless utterances of the president maybe wrecking the Philippine economy.”

Debt-watcher Standard and Poor’s earlier said that Duterte’s bloody war on drugs and tough rhetoric raised questions on the predictability of the country’s economic policies. Duterte has shrugged off this view.

But Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin emphasized the importance of the country's credit ratings.

"With a possible downturn sa economy and by December, November we have another credit ratings downgrade or upgrade, it will also affect our capacity to pay the loans. We are on perilous grounds," Villarin said.

Villarin added that there are other troubling signs on the economy.

"Kung ang foreign direct investment mo bumabagsak that’s an indicator na medyo ang ating investors are not moving in," he said.

For Lagman, the Duterte administration appears to be willing to sacrifice the economy in favor of the government's war against drugs, which has drawn flak worldwide for alleged human rights abuses.

"The overriding policy of the present administration is to lick or solve the drug menace even to the extent of encouraging or condoning extra-judicial killings and emergence of a culture of violence," he said.

Lagman maintained the importance of the Philippines' relationship with the United States and the European Union. This, after Duterte announced more engagement with China and Russia.

"But we should not be demeaning our traditional economic partners because that can sustain of the country for so long a time," he said.

Erice added, "Australia, E.U., U.S. -- they are very important trade partners yet the president is trying to sacrifice this relationship just to defend his human rights record.”