Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Duterte's second State of the Nation Address

"x x x.

Economy: If it grew by a decent 6.4% plus in his first year as president, it did so on the momentum built by the preceding administration, which has accounted for the highest average growth rate (6.3%) of any presidency since Ferdinand Marcos’s 14-year dictatorship was defeated in 1986. Duterte’s prophecy of progress on his own account rests largely on the word of China as a prospective investor and lender.

But China is known to drive ruthless bargains, as evidenced by cases in which client countries find themselves so mired in debt they are forced into desperate compromises, like ceding to Chinese creditors ownerships of ventures funded by their loans. The Philippines might have found itself in the same situation if the nbn-ztebroadband deal between China and the Gloria Arroyo presidency had gone through. The deal, as it happened, smelled so strongly it aroused widespread and violent public opinion and had to be scuttled.

After keeping off during the six-year presidency of Benigno Aquino iii, whom it smartly thought not a good prospect for its tricks, China is back with a vengeance. Having found either a cowed or a captivated client in Duterte, it has managed to begin collecting profits even before parting with any investments or loans. And it is not taking payments in any perishable currency — it is taking territory.

On Duterte’s capitulation, the Chinese have taken over the South China Sea waters judged by an international arbitral court as part of Philippine territory. As a particularly cruel result, marginal Filipino fishermen are deprived of resources rightfully theirs.

Drugs: They appear to be Duterte’s biggest hang-up: until they are eradicated, he says, this nation cannot move forward. Upon taking office, he declared a war against drugs, promising total victory in six months; then he asked for six months more; now he says it will take his entire term. This nation, in other words, cannot expect to move forward during his presidency.

Actually, logic has eluded Duterte from the beginning. He counted 3 million drug dealers and users, dismissing without explanation the previous official count of 1.8 million (itself a loose count, including one-time and other non-habitual takers as well as rehabilitated addicts); even at an elimination rate of a thousand a month (the precise rate in the first seven months of his war), he will still fall short of a million on his promise.

The illogic goes on: he claims he’s winning his war; at the same time, he corrects his first count — it’s 4 million, not 3; now, that doubles his expected shortfall.

Terrorism: Going now for 10 weeks, the war against terrorists and brigands in Marawi City would have ended two weeks ago if Duterte’s calculations had been right. But, again, Duterte is not known for his calculations. This war, as his other, against drugs, is attended by confused counts.

At first, enemy strength was put at around 50, which, with martial-law powers, Duterte said, should be easy enough to put down. Then the count rose to 200. Still Duterte said, no matter, the enemy had been boxed in; he predicted final victory in 15 days.

Now, he and his generals are claiming to have killed more than 400 of the enemy.

But the most chilling number yet is possibly the right one: Duterte’s approval rating remains very high — more than 80%. – Rappler.com

x x x."