I was traveling on the North Luzon Expressway this week and passed a billboard touting Sara Duterte, with the words “Ituloy ang Pagbabago” (“continue the change”). I couldn’t see the smaller print with the car traveling at 80 kilometers per hour. But the message struck me. What “pagbabago” has there been that should be continued?
Obviously the billboard was meant for Sara Duterte to ride on her father’s coattails, but as I have been reporting regularly, the Philippine Statistics Authority, through its Statistical Indicators on Philippine Development or StatDev, has been monitoring the likelihood of achieving the economic and social development goals in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
Why is the PDP important? Because as President Duterte states in its foreword, its priorities were “guided by my 0+10-Point Socio-Economic Agenda … Through this Plan we will empower the poor and the marginalized, push for improved transparency and accountability in governance, and fuel the economy…”
“Reducing all forms of criminality and illegal drugs is also a priority as with enhancing peace and security … pursue infrastructure development … resolve to protect our environment and natural resources…” You get the idea?
Well, the latest PSA StatDev was less than glowing (see www.psa.gov.ph). Of 300 indicators, 144 had a low likelihood of being achieved, 33 were so-so, and only 126, or less than half, had a high likelihood of being achieved. What is more, the indicators which had low or so-so chances of being achieved were the more important ones, as far as I am concerned. But you judge for yourselves, Reader. Go to the website, click on Statistics, and then click on StatDev.
So if the statistics authority itself, a government agency, on the basis of the evidence it collects from all the government agencies involved, does not give the Duterte administration much of a chance of achieving what it set out to do, why should we believe his paid hacks?
If you need more evidence that this government has brought the country down to its knees, and that if the presidential daughter wants to continue what her father started the country will be going more downhill, there are all the indices and indicators that have been gathered internationally to compare countries’ performance. These, too, show what the StatDev shows: a downward slide rather than an upward surge.
Take the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. From 2015, when the Philippines’ score reached 0.53 (1 is best), we were ranked 51 out of 102 countries and ninth out of 15 in the region, we went on a downward slide until our latest score, for 2021, which came out two months ago. Our score deteriorated to 0.46, our rank fell 102 out of 139 countries, and we are now 13th out of 15 in the region. Is that the pagbabago we want to continue?
Or take the Worldwide Governance Indicators, which ranks countries in six areas: voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence/terrorism, rule of law, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and control of corruption. The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives compared the Philippine scores by political regime. The Duterte regime beat the Aquino regime in only one out of six — in regulatory quality. In the other areas, the Aquino regime showed better results. Is that the pagbabago we want to continue?
And we know what has happened with respect to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. In 2014, the Philippines had its highest score: 0.38 (1 is best), and ranked 85th out of 174 countries (top half). The Philippine CPI is now down to 0.35. We now rank 115th out of 179 countries. Is that the pagbabago we want to continue?
We have a new index to consider: the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index, which scores 26 countries’ comprehensive power to shape and respond to their external environment. The Philippines ranks 16th. It has the lowest comprehensive power among the Asean-5, with Vietnam, the next lowest, ranking 12th.
With the foregoing as a baseline, it is hoped that Filipino voters will not choose a president or vice president who is cut from the same political cloth as the present dispensation. Anyone who promises to continue what the present administration has done must be out of his or her mind.
This year is do-or-die. With that in mind, a Happy New Year to all.
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