Think tank says PHL political governance weakest in Asia

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By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
Senior Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES has the weakest governance system in Asia, an international think tank said, noting that abrupt policy changes under President Rodrigo R. Duterte have not delivered substantial gains despite his popularity among Filipinos.

“The quality of political governance has deteriorated sharply under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte,” the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, Ltd. (PERC) said in its latest Asian Intelligence report published on Wednesday, citing the possibility that the tough-talking leader would put the entire country under martial law.

“Although many Filipinos are impressed with Mr. Duterte’s strong, direct approach to dealing with problems, the results he has achieved have been disappointing. Mr. Duterte has consistently overestimated his ability to solve major problems and to translate his policies into action,” it noted.

“Moreover, some of his policies could actually be producing exactly the opposite results from which they are intended, leaving the Philippines worse off.”

BusinessWorld asked Malacañang for comment but had yet to receive a response as of early last night.

PERC gave a 4.38 average score for the Philippines for 2017 under a 10-point grading scale, with 10 being the best possible score and zero as the worst.

The country got 5.21 as its highest score in terms of “government effectiveness,” but received a 3.32 grade in terms of “vulnerability to disruptive or extra-constitutional” changes in government.

The other categories were regulatory quality (4.93), rule of law (4.31) and control of corruption (4.14).

The Philippines’ average score is the lowest among 12 economies in the region which PERC covered, next to Indonesia (4.52), Vietnam (4.75), India (4.94), Thailand (4.97), China (5.54) and Malaysia (6.24).

Singapore was rated with the best political institutions at 8.84, followed by Japan (8.24), Hong Kong (8.04), Taiwan (7.23) and South Korea (7.06).

Mr. Duterte won the May 2016 national elections convincingly with 16 million votes in a five-way race, as he dangled the promise of ridding the country of crime and illegal drugs in three to six months upon assuming office. He later on conceded that such a feat was impossible, as he is now on his second year in Malacañang.

PERC analysts said the country’s poor scores reflected the government’s “inability to deal” with the terrorist attacks in Mindanao, as the battle to retake Marawi City stretches to a fourth month.

Moreover, Mr. Duterte’s pivot to China and away from the United States “has not yet produced any dividends” one year since such declaration in October last year, despite the promise of billions of dollars in investments that would support his administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure initiative. Economic managers expect over $9 billion of official development assistance from China and Japan to support big-ticket infrastructure projects over the next five years, which in turn is expected to propel economic growth to as fast as 7-8% by 2022 by improving connectivity and ease of doing business.