MANILA - The poor were given access to affordable credit lines, making sure that they were not left behind by the growing economy during President Rodrigo Duterte's first year in office, a Cabinet official said Friday.
The trade department has rolled out an initial P1-billion loan fund for small entrepreneurs to help spur commerce and fight shadow lenders that mire the poor in debt.
"Instead of dole outs, we teach people how to fish and we feed them many lifetimes," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told ANC's Market Edge with Cathy Yang.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said industry growth was helping drive economic expansion, which reached 6.4 percent in the first quarter. This also helped reduce unemployment, he said.
"Definitely, we are seeing a lot of improvement," he said.
Political concerns, however, remained on businessmen's view, said Bob Herrera-Lim, managing director if Teneo Intelligence that advises investors.
"They’ll see all this constant coverage of conflict, polarization... It's not as good a story that comes out. Things gets lost in the noise," Herrera Lim said.
International human rights monitors have criticized Duterte over deaths linked to his war on drugs. Concerns have also been raised over his foreign policy shift to China from the US.
Despite concerns over political polarization and inequality, Duterte has enough political capital as shown by his popularity, Herrera Lim said.
Recent fighting between the Islamic State-inspired Maute group and the military in Marawi puts the Philippines at the center of security concerns in Southeast Asia, said Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.