The economy may take a “backward step” if Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte wins Monday’s presidential elections, a London-based think tank said over the weekend.
“With the highly controversial Rodrigo Duterte riding high in the polls ahead of presidential elections on Monday, the country could be about to take a backward step,” Capital Economics said in its Emerging Asia Weekly issue.
The think tank said the next president of the Philippines will have “big shoes to fill in” as the Aquino administration had done a good job wooing investors through its “clean image” and “reformist stance.”
It said the May 9 elections would have a key bearing on the prospects for the Philippine economy.
The think tank cited that the country’s economy grew by an average of 6.3 percent in the last five years. It said the figure was 1.8 percentage points higher than in previous five years and “a bigger improvement than in any other country in the region.”
Capital Economics said with Duterte as the frontrunner in recent elections polls in which might reflect today’s election, financial markets would probably fall.
“In the increasingly likely event that Duterte wins Monday’s presidential election, financial markets, which have sold off as his victory has looked more likely, would probably fall further,” it said.
“The longer-term consequences of a Duterte victory are unlikely to be so benign, and there is a real risk that Aquino’s most important achievements could quickly start to unravel,” it added.
Capital Economics said one of the risks that would emerge if Duterte won was a possible coup attempt.
“One of the key features of the past six years has been a return to political stability and an absence of coup attempts. The military might not be as tolerant of someone who wants to ‘change the system,’” Capital Economics said.
The think tank also said corruption could quickly re-escalate if the recent polls reflected Monday’s election.
Capital economics said if Duterte won, the country was electing another Ferdinand Marcos.
“Electing, for example, another Ferdinand Marcos, whose disastrous presidency from 1965-86 saw the economy lurch from one crisis to another, could quickly see economic prospects unravel,” Capital Economics said.
“We now have concerns that the electorate may be about to make exactly that kind of mistake,” it said.
Capital Economics noted that while the seven-term Davao City mayor managed to reduce crime rates in his city during his term, it was largely achieved through a spate of extrajudicial killings.
“The sharp fall in crime rate during his time as mayor of Davao was largely achieved on the back of a spate of extrajudicial killings in his constituency, calling into question his commitment in the rule of law,” the think said.
Capital Economics, however, said with supporters seeing Duterte as a politician capable of getting things done, this could possibly give him more success in pushing key reforms and improvements in infrastructure.