Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Essay: Duterte is Bad for the Economy

My friends from Davao are pissed at me. They think, ugh, god, here's another anti-Duterte post from Peachy. I wish she would shut up.

I guess I can't. Or, more accurately, I won't. That's because I think that there's so much at stake by now. I urge us all to objectively consider the possible impact of a Duterte presidency on our global economic position. What his leadership can mean for fund managers and investors, especially those offshore. What it could mean for fellow Filipinos who depend on good foreign relations to get work elsewhere. You see, although unemployment is now at its lowest in 10 years, many Filipinos still have little choice but to migrate to other countries to find lucrative employment. It will take a long time before we'll have all the jobs we need to truly shrink the diaspora.

Future headlines if Duterte became President. (from Manila LiveWire).
Duterte has already offended official representatives of two countries: Mexico and Australia. Both countries have made significant investments in the Philippines. Australia in particular has been a generous partner in various development programs that continue to benefit many Filipinos.

He's not even President yet, but we may already be paying for his gaffes. Duterte's statements aren't just divisive; his tactlessness will make our country appear too risky for investors who don't want any trouble.

As evidenced by recent developments, his "joke" wasn't just a "joke" for international publications. His "joke" is an alarm call to the global financial market. The reason why he got such extensive international coverage isn't just because he now stands as one of the strongest contenders in the Presidential race. It's actually due to the fact that over the last six years, the Philippines has successfully renewed investor interest for itself. After all, we've become the second-fastest growing economy in Asia.

In other words: foreign investors were interested in us. They still are. But if Duterte wins, there's a good likelihood that we will lose much of what we worked hard to restore--what progress we've been able to make--since 2010.

I beg you to consider the welfare of this country beyond the purview of your immediate experience. Just because Duterte promises safer streets doesn't mean he can actually give you that. Recall that Davao City tops the country's crime tables for murder, and that it bears the unhappy distinction as having the second-highest number of rape cases nationwide.

You may think you're safe, but you really aren't. Let's take the notorious Davao Death Squad, for example. Because--let's admit it--the death squad is real. If they end up killing your neighbor, that's none of your business, is it? You wouldn't want to get in their way. And of course you don't want to get involved, and you'll comfort yourself with the theory that the guy who was gunned down probably deserved it. So I guess that's one less low-life to worry about, right? And anyway, why talk? You don't want to die.

A friend told me recently: "You know, it's just as well that you can't find work as a writer here in Davao, Peach. If you were here, you would be dead."

I believe her. And I think that says a lot about the kind of Presidency we can expect from Duterte.

Is that safety? No, it's not. That's oppression and brutality. Unfortunately, local and international investors will keep that in mind.

You may well elect Duterte. But again, there will be consequences. And they will not be pretty, not at all.

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This essay, written by Peachy A. Paderna, is lifted from her Facebook post. I will be re-posting voices of fellow citizens on their thoughts on the upcoming election, in the hopes that it helps us make a better decision on the names whose circles we will choose to shade in those ballots come May 9. 

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