Has the Duterte administration lived up to its promises?
The Movement for Good Governance assessed how the administration performed on three major areas: the economy, public finance, and agriculture. Benchmarking was done based on data and performance indicators using a 10-point scorecard. The rating ranges from 0 to 10 depending on how well the administration has achieved its targets.
The overall rating of the President is 4.71. It can go up to 4.95 if the employment figures which are still forthcoming will show an increase in new job generation. The score means that what has been accomplished is lower than expected. The administration got a rating of 4.6-5.6 in managing the economy; 4.75 in public finance, 5.5 in agriculture, 3.75 in governance, and 5 in health protection.
The MGG gives a high rating of 7.5 on of the government’s performance on Human Development. The Human Development Index is a measure of the state of health, the level of knowledge and skills and the level of income. The HDI can range from 0 (lowest) to 1 (highest). The HDI of the Philippines, as of the Human Development Report is 0.682. It should be noted however, that the score is based on 2015 data. Building on the gains of the past administration, the target of achieving a 0.70 level of human development by 2022 will most certainly be achieved.
A score of 5 was given for GDP growth. The growth rate for the first three quarters of the Duterte administration averaged 6.7% with a declining trend. Performance in attaining inclusive growth was given a low of 2.5. Given the absence of recent statistics, MGG used the SWS survey on self-rated poverty. Self-rated poverty went up to 50 percent in March 2017 and declined to 44% in June 2017. Self-rated poverty went up to 33% in June 2017 from 30% in September 2016 with regional variation, with the highest, 44% in Visayas.
The performance in labor generation was rated at 2.5. The average unemployment rate of 5.67% was higher than 5.5% in 2016. This means that employment has been declining.
The promise of maintaining the fiscal agenda had a score of 4.5 mainly because of the turnaround in the policy of financing infrastructure through borrowings instead of the Public Private Sector Partnership (PPPs). The Philippines has had a positive experience with PPPS with lower costs, shorter period for project completion, and better maintenance and operations. With the inability of the revenue collecting agencies to reach their targets, the borrowing strategy may be risky.
The Tax Reform Program was given a score of 6 noting that the regressive distribution of the overall tax burden. MGG expresses its apprehension that the transfer mechanism which can lessen its impact on the poor will suffer from inefficiencies. The period for implementing the subsidy is relatively short for the poor to adjust to the increase in prices from the excise tax on petroleum. The MGG further notes the disconnect between the policy intention and the action of the Lowe House.
MGG lauds the golden age of infrastructure but notes that government has underspent in 2016 and during the first quarter of the year. Government’s performance is not consistent with its pronouncements.
The administration may have spoken too soon in promising that corruption will be stopped within a six month-period. The Philippines slid to 101 out of 175 countries compared to 95 out of 168 countries in 2014. Its score of 35 has not improved.
MGG notes with favor the initial gains in agriculture. Growth in agriculture in the second half of 2016 recorded a 0.5% increase from a negative 3.2% in the first half. Following a 4.9% rise in the first quarter of 2017, it is likely that the sector will hit 4% growth for the whole of 2017. This is a significant recovery from the dry spell of 2016. But the administration has much to cover to catch up with ASEAN peers.
MGG found it difficult to assess how the Duterte administration has lived up to its platform on governance. His 20 election promises make no mention of how he intends to use the powers and resources of the Office of the President to promote the welfare of the citizens and to empower them. His promises are stated in terms of what he intends to do, regardless of systems and processes. Our assessment on governance was limited to assessing the results of his promises.
The President was given 10 for fulfilling his promise of interring the remains of former President Marcos in Libingan ng Bayani and his promise to pardon former President Arroyo. He is on track on his promise to promote family planning and improve wages of the military. But he fell short in suppressing crime by 2016 since the number of murder cases rose. The other areas where slow progress was noted were stopping corruption government, ending labor contractualization, distributing coco levy to farmers, opening health facilities in every barangay with a doctor, and solving traffic problems in Manila.
MGG notes that AmBisyon Natin 2040 is an excellent platform to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, a lot of action needs to be taken for real change to be felt. Although the capacities of rehabilitation and treatment centers have doubled with additional training given to frontline health workers, the war on drugs has resulted to a loss of 7,000 lives mostly urban poor Filipinos. Construction of health care facilities and rehabilitation centers has been slow, despite the additional P 96.366 billion allocated to DOH. Financial risk protection is still not experienced by all Filipinos with approximately 8 million Filipinos who still outside PhilHealth, despite the additional P3.0 billion pesos given to its budget. Finally, the lack of clear guidance from DOH on what a service delivery network is, and how it can be successfully implemented is an impediment to the progress that is being undertaken by the department. Several tools to enable SDNs, such as telehealth/telemedicine, are available for use and implementation. Without a department administrative or memorandum order, on how to integrate and make full use of these tools for SDN creation can result to a disorganized effort. The long-standing dearth of health human resources – coupled by the assassination of four physicians serving in the provinces in the first year of the Duterte administration ,contribute to the challenge of achieving SDNs. Instituting a return of service for all health professional graduates (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc.) of state universities and colleges and distributing them to their provinces of origin or areas of need offer an excellent way of resolving this challenge. But this must be complemented by a well-designed security and safety plan for all health personnel in the country.
To read the assessment paper in full or to download a copy, please click here.
MGG is a coalition of individuals and organizations chaired by former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Solita Monsod. It was founded in 2008 to promote transparent, participatory, and accountable governance.
MGG’s previous assessments of the Aquino Administration can be found here.
In the News: