President Rodrigo Duterte has just received a new vote of approval from the electorate, with the expected victory of the senatorial candidates he personally supported and his continued grip in the Lower House.
The resounding election victory would, in the words of global debt watcher Fitch Ratings, ensure the continuity of the policies and reforms instituted by the administration in the next three years. Early results show that President Duterte and his political allies would secure a super majority in the Senate, which was largely blamed for the delay in the approval of the 2019 budget.
A more friendly Senate will make the task of President Duterte to push the government's economic and tax reform agenda easier. “… The strong show of support for Duterte will both give him the confidence and ability to push ahead with his reform program. The Senate has proved a sticking point for Duterte, as seen by the delay to the passing of the 2019 budget,” says the Fitch Group.
The budget deadlock between the Senate and the House of Representatives was largely blamed for the significant slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter of the year. The economy grew to a four-year low of 5.6 percent in the first three months of 2019, from 6.5 percent recorded a year ago and 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Fitch Solutions noted that with the increased support in the Senate, Duterte’s reforms and fiscal plans would face less obstacles. The proposed shift to a federal system of government, along with lower corporate tax rates and the restoration of the death penalty, are some of the key reforms that President Duterte will likely pursue.
President Duterte must now seize the opportunity to advance vital economic agenda in both houses of Congress, including amendments to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution. The Philippines has lagged behind its neighbors in Southeast Asia in attracting foreign investments because of overprotection in certain economic activities.
President Duterte's renewed mandate also allows him to pursue even unpopular economic reforms that will make the Philippines at par with other modern economies in Asia.