MANILA -- A recent study that said the Philippines' economic freedom declined this year due to "tax burdens" and "government integrity" was "not accurate," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sunday.
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom earlier said the country suffered a 9-notch drop in this year's list due to "pervasive corruption and cronyism."
"I don't think that's a very accurate reading," Panelo told ANC's Dateline Philippines Weekend when sought for a comment.
"The administration remains very serious against corruption. The President has been firing high officials of the government involved in corruption," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman also belied the study's findings that the country's fiscal health, business and trade freedom declined this year due to "tax burdens."
In December 2018, Duterte approved a new round of fuel excise tax hikes in 2019 despite a series of oil price increases due to unstable world market prices.
"We have curbed whatever adverse situations inflation could have given this country and right now our economy is stable so I don't think there is a problem," Panelo said.
The Malacañang official eased investor worries over Duterte's
"heavy-handed rule" and influence on the Congress as pointed out by the study.
"I don't think the President has interfered in the way Congress was doing its job," Panelo said.
"His policy is non-intrusion. He does not interfere. He does not even interfere in departments unless there is corruption in a particular department," he said.
"If he has been controlling Congress then there would have been no problems in the passage of the 2019 budget," he said.