Pro-poor Duterte to build economic zones outside Manila


MANILA – Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday government spending this year would be focused on uplifting the lives of the poor, as he unveiled plans to spread development outside the capital by building economic zones.

Duterte said he would not allow the construction of new factories in the congested capital, Manila, which he described as a "dead city." The "eco zones," he said, were envisioned as business and trading centers where residents have easy access to government services such as health care.

"I tend to spend most of the money for this year to alleviate hunger and poverty. Then I will ask the engineers, maghanap na ako ng lupa, we will build eco zones," he told reporters in Davao City.

"Gusto ko pagdating ng tao, may daan na, may eskwelahan na. Magbuhos ako ng pera sa medisina," he said.

A quarter of the Philippines’ 100 million people live below the poverty line according to the World Bank, despite economic growth rates that have outpaced larger economies such as China.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter this of year, beating analysts’ predictions. Critics, however, said the growth has been largely unfelt by the poor.

A tenth of the population are crammed in Metro Manila, where flooding and traffic jams have become a way of life. Duterte pointed out the clogged drainage systems and the congestion during the midnight press conference on Thursday.

“Ang problema ko ngayon, I have to create more jobs but Manila is already saturated… I will not allow factories anymore in Manila, not only because it is a dead city but because I have to build a new environment. Mag eco zone na lang ako,” he said.

“Every ecozone, dapat pagdating nila doon may ospital na, may economic activity, then I will relocate them. Pagdating nila doon, may trabaho na sila,” he said.