This writer has been watching the Philippines for more than 30 years; he has a pretty good idea of how it works. And his assessment is this. If the administration of Rodrigo Duterte succeeds in pushing through his socio-economic agenda and his packages of political and economic reforms; if he defeats the drug menace as well as brings in the long-awaited peace in the troubled south, the Philippines will rise like a phoenix from the ashlands and will become a formidable economy. It will become an Asian Lion.
We’re just moving out of ground zero. This is where the elevator starts its ascent. This is where investors need to get a firm grasp of the realities and the potential that lie beneath the current volatility – that, or consign potential future profits to the bonfire of fear being stoked by Duterte’s opponents in a spate of arson fueled by the propaganda of their agenda.
Conspicuously, all criticisms of Duterte come from Western sources; from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. There is not a single Asian, African, or Central or South American country that has spoken out against him. In Asia, the states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a member, broadly support him – some in glowing terms. Certainly there is no criticism of him in this region – of course excluding the branch offices of the Western NGOs. Even America’s little brother Japan has not fallen in with the Western cabal this time. In fact, in Japan Duterte has a sizeable following. And why would it? Japan is one of the largest investors in the Philippines and all the noises coming from there suggests its appetite for the country is getting bigger. It’s important for investors to know all this in order to gain a deeper understanding of the realities.
A start would be to understand President Duterte, the man. He is not an honour’s graduate of the Academy of Globally Prescribed Political Correctness; nor does he belong to the Order of The One World. He is outspoken; driven by patriotism and a deep love of his people. He is also a pragmatist. His approach is Cromwellian; his passion is limitless; his determination to succeed should never be underestimated. Duterte is Duterte. He is not a makeover of some agreeable Western political persona – for him, their one-size-fits-all (as long as it fits their requirements) approach does not fit the Philippines. He is not UN, EU, US vetted and approved. He is never going fall in line and be their servant either. He is the helmsman and he knows better than most where the rocks and the dangerous currents are.
Former president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino certainly made headway in tackling some of the country’s ills, the fact that the present administration is continuing many of his policies endorses that, but many of those economic gains came from low-hanging fruit – notably, from large-scale infrastructure projects. None of this should be taken away from Aquino’s achievements, but low-hanging fruit is soon used up. Furthermore, the deadwood of the economic orchard was never removed; nor were the pests that devoured much of that fruit. New planting and the ability for new growth to take root remained hampered.
Unreliable and blatantly biased reporting can colour investment decisions – and it can end up by being very costly for investors if they act on bad information. The Volatilian™, therefore, urges extreme caution in believing all that’s written about the present situation in the Philippines. There are many agendas at work which only make the investment environment more treacherous. Therefore, caveat lector.
The job of this site is to provide balance and clarity of what is happening on the ground. In that effort, it will shoot down any spurious claims and attack those responsible for them. In these regards, the Western media is particularly unreliable – their dislike of this president is evident. But while they are entitled to their opinion, they are not entitled to skew and censor the facts, which they do with considerable ease. Other institutions, particularly the NGOs as we’ve mentioned repeatedly, have the same purpose; and there is little doubt from the statements they put out that creating instability and deterring investors is acceptable to them in order to fulfill that endeavour. Thus, what they purport to be going on in the Philippines should be treated with extreme caution.
There are many investment opportunities in this country and many more are starting to open up. What is actually happening is that the Philippines is preparing to enter a new era – its sights are on emulating the economic model of Singapore. And ultimately to mirror the city state’s success. It is trying, not just to throw off its “Sick Man of Asia” image once and for all, but to build a substantial economy that can function competitively in its own right and on its own terms. Duterte is not content that his country should continue to merely survive on the crumbs from the rich man’s table; to remain, in all but name, a US dependency. You won’t glean this perspective from Western media reports, but this is the thread that is stitching the new economic quilt of the Philippines.