Why Philippines is slowest to recover in Asia

UP professor Solita Monsod presented empirical arguments in her recent Inquirer column why the Philippines is again the “sick man of Asia”.

Her use of World Bank report/data simply demolishes IATF Carlito Galvez’s overly optimistic prognosis of the country’s economic recovery.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque should not even try to refute Monsod. He’s way out of her league, much like pitifully challenging former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to a debate on China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

The country’s economic performance was worst in the region for 2020. The earliest prospect of a rebound is late next year while our neighbors are already recovering.

Monsod cited World Bank’s analysis of countries’ economic performance – “Economic performance across countries continues to depend on (i) the efficiency with which the virus is contained; (ii) the ability to take advantage of the revival in international goods trade; and (iii) the capacity of governments to provide fiscal and monetary support.”

The World Bank cited the Philippines’ prolonged travel restrictions that hampered economic recovery.

The World Bank pointed out that our government focused more on preventing movement of people rather than a massive virus testing campaign.

A readjustment of World Bank’s GDP forecast for the Philippines for 2021 from 5.5% to 4.7% cannot be countered by Malacanang’s style of obfuscating damaging issues.

The IATF insists on the same strategy with the same results – still thousands of daily infections – while Health Secretary Duque and COVID-19 Task Force head Carlito Galvez make presentations based on faulty assumptions in order to please Pres. Duterte.

They keep the president under the illusion the pandemic is under control.

But now that international financial institutions are pointing out that the Philippines is the slowest to recover should already send the message there must be something wrong with what government is doing.

Sadly, this realization will quickly be glossed over by political maneuverings for next year’s polls.

Malacanang’s economic managers justified the trillions of pesos in foreign debt for COVID response without clear payment options – new taxes? This was quickly quelled by declarations there will be no new taxes until Duterte steps down.

Vaccines currently used mostly come from donations. Vaccination implementors are wondering where are the purchased doses? Vaccine delivery schedules are sporadic and uncertain.

The IATF’s goal of achieving herd immunity by inoculating 70% of the population by this or that time remain wishful thinking if not fiction.

The IATF is divided in allowing children and senior citizens to travel for holiday/vacation. They cannot even decide whether to drop or retain the face shield.

A rumor that instantly got doused was that the exclusive distributor of face shields coming from China is the spouse of someone close to the President (translation – untouchable).

When these decision-makers go into election-mode, we will be left to fend for ourselves in surviving the pandemic while our neighbors return to the new normal.

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