Duterte’s Campaign Against Corruption And Investor Confidence In The Philippines: A Rebuttal

img_9260Politikal Pinoy does not claim to be a political or economic genius, but we don’t have to be one to know when a so-called expert makes claims that are completely the opposite of the real situation in the Philippines under the Duterte administration.

In a piece published by Forbes magazine, Panos Mourdoukoutas has painted a grim picture of the Philippines related to the campaign against corruption, illegal drugs and the future of foreign investments. This is our layman’s attempt at a point-by-point rebuttal of Mr. Mourdoukoutas’ claims:


“President Rodrigo Duterte’s death squads didn’t kill corruption in the Philippines last year. But they killed freedom and democracy, and will kill the country’s economic growth and equity market.”

The use of the term “death squads” is old and tired, and none of the political and media accounts and investigations have proven without reasonable doubt that such “state-sanctioned” vigilante killings exist.

Reference to these “death squads” has been an ineffective strategy used by those out to discredit President Duterte and his war on drugs. Much like the use of the term “death panels” by those in the U.S. who are out to discredit and repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Freedom and democracy are alive and well under the Duterte administration. It’s exactly why we are able to read biased analysis of Philippine events like this article by Mourdoukoutas.

The opposition and the media in the Philippines have not been silenced. On the contrary, they thrive, and in many ways, are encouraged to speak up. When actress Agot Isidoro called the president a “psychopath,” his response was classic: she has the constitutional right to free speech.

Although Duterte’s campaign to end illegal drugs and corruption may actually intertwine, these are two separate, specific goals of the administration. So for Mourdoukoutas to suggest that the war on drugs hasn’t killed corruption is to oversimplify both issues that have been pervasive in the country.

Corruption is not exclusive to the current administration. On the contrary it has been inherited not just from the immediate past administration but several administrations that came before. To conclude that Duterte’s campaign against corruption has failed — less than a year into his administration — speaks of ignorance of the extent of the problem. Can anyone name a world leader that has eliminated corruption in just a few months?

The Philippines dropped six notches in the 2016 Corruption Index country ranking published recently by Transparency International.”

This very statement by Mourdoukoutas reveals his bias against the current administration. The last time I checked, there were twelve months in a year. Half of 2016 was under the administration of NoyNoy Aquino, where we can argue, corruption and illegal drugs thrived. So, to blame the current administration for the 2016 drop in the Philippines’ corruption index is not only an exercise in futility but a re-writing of actual events in history.

Fighting corruption is a big bet for Philippines and for foreign investors buying Philippine stocks. Why? Because winning it would mean the Philippines has won the war against corruption and pushed forward and become a developed country.”

I think President Duterte understands this, exactly. That’s why he has made the campaign against corruption one of the pillars of his administration. From all indications, he intends to win the war against corruption, just like he intends to win the war on illegal drugs.

While President Duterte has been ineffective in fighting corruption, his flip-flops over the South China Sea disputes have been taking their toll on the Philippines‘ stocks …”

Again, it is too early to judge Duterte’s fight against corruption. It takes some time to dismantle a decades-old evil that has practically been ingrained in the Filipino psyche.

But to label Duterte’s stand on the South China Sea dispute as “flip-flops” once again is a misreading and misinterpretation of the president’s pronouncements. The fact is, he has never even hinted of totally giving up the Philippines’ sovereignty over the islands that we believe belongs to us. What is clear though, is that Duterte knows where we stand vis a vis a powerful neighboring country like China, so his strategy is to use diplomacy rather than the military, in promoting the mutual benefits of both countries while not giving up our claim to the disputed territories.

“Apparently, investors are concerned about the political and economic future of that nation (Philippines), and the prospects for on-going economic integration of the region and the global economy — most notably China, which needs a market frontier for its manufacturing products.”

Investors are, of course, expected to be concerned about the political and economic future of ANY nation. Their business depends on it. I agree about the economic integration of the region. With political and economic changes happening in the West, notably Europe and the Americas, it bodes well for the Philippines to work with its neighbor countries to strengthen the economy of the entire region. And the Philippines is poised to be leading in this effort, especially this year when it holds the chairmanship of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian National.

Forecasts and manifestations seem in direct contrast to what Mourdoukoutas is claiming. The Philippines is seen as the next ground zero for business and infrastructure growth. Governments like the Netherlands have already promised to invest in Duterte’s Philippines, not to mention the deals that our president has sealed during his recent state visits to China, Japan and our other Asian neighbors. It’s BILLIONS in investments!

So while the likes of Mr. Mourdoukoutas are bearish about the Philippines’ economy, we, the Filipinos are bullish!

UPDATE! Continuing its trend of economic gains, the Philippines moved up 12 notches and scored higher than world average in the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom (IEF). The Philippines placed 58th in latest index from 70th place last year.

Conducted by Washington-based think tank Heritage Foundation, the IEF covers 186 countries and reveals a positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of socioeconomic goals, including poverty elimination, greater per capita wealth, healthier societies, cleaner environments, and democracy.


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