Not many will believe this but Rodrigo Roa Duterte is going to be rated by history as one of the Philippines’ best presidents.
The long-time Davao mayor built more roads, more highways, more airports and seaports, and more schools than any Filipino president. In fact, Duterte built more infra than all previous four presidents combined. His infra spending exceeded 5% of GDP, double the 20-year average of 2.5%; and exceeded P1.1 trillion per year, six times the annual average. The President’s infra spending created jobs for 6.5 million, an unprecedented feat.
He also licked unemployment. He brought down unemployment to 5% —a record low, and which is equivalent to full employment. In the US, full employment is 4% unemployment. Of course, because of the pandemic, unemployment rose to a record 17% in 2020 before coming down to a still uncomfortable 7.4% third quarter this year.
Digong also reduced poverty incidence to as low as 16.7% (17.7 million Filipinos) of the population in 2018. With the pandemic, poverty rose to 23.7% or 26.4 million poor Filipinos in the first half of 2021.
Duterte’s Bangko Sentral Governor Ben Diokno brought interest rates to their lowest ever, 2% per year.
Under the late Governor Jobo Fernandez, in the worst economic crisis before 2020, interest rates hit a stratospheric 44% in the early 1980s. That ensured all businesses were shut down because one made more money by not moving.
BSP chief Diokno also pumped a record P2.3 trillion into the financial system to boost economic recovery from the pandemic. That included P530 billion in extraordinary loans to the government for its ayuda and vaccine purchases. The effort probably the decline in growth rate by about 1%.
Finally, Digong is the country’s most popular president. At the height of history’s worst pandemic and economic crisis, he was registering a job approval rating of 65%.
In Duterte’s last semester or last six months in office, Albay Second District Congressman Joey Salceda has identified 10 programs that Duterte might want to finish or his successor should complete during 2022.