Local business leaders and foreign observers were one in saying Wednesday they expected a smooth transition and policy continuity from President Rodrigo Duterte to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after the presumptive president-elect dominated the May 9 presidential polls based on partial unofficial results.
“We expect a smooth transition to the Marcos administration from the outgoing Duterte administration, with little changes in policy direction,” Fitch Solutions said in a report.
Meanwhile, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon said choosing experienced Cabinet members for major economic posts would be crucial for the incoming Marcos administration to address challenges like higher debt and inflation.
The Finance, Trade, Agriculture and Labor departments as well as the National Economic and Development Authority need people with “hands on experience” in running those key Cabinet posts, Barcelon told ANC.
President Duterte was also “lucky” to have Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III at the helm of his economic team, he added.
While Duterte administration officials were silently moving in transition talks with Marcos’ camp, the current NEDA officials hoped the incoming administration would follow his predecessor’s economic agenda and “build on its gains.”
NEDA Undersecretary Rose Edillon said it would help if Marcos Jr. laid down his specific economic plans but said the agency had also created a transition scheme that prioritizes economic recovery.
Fitch Solutions also said: “We had previously noted that Marcos is the continuity candidate as his economic and foreign policy stances are most similar to the outgoing Duterte administration. His election win, therefore, bodes well for policy continuity in the Philippines.”
Alfredo Pascual, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, meanwhile said once Marcos Jr. was proclaimed – this is expected by latest first week of June – he should establish a “cohesive” team.
“It is important that his team is a cohesive team. Otherwise, if it’s complete strangers surrounding him it would be a difficult situation for the new president,” Pascual said.
Both PCCI and MAP have outlined issues that should be prioritized by the next administration, including debt, inflation, food supply, labor, drugs, education, and health problems, among others.
There should also be continued collaboration between the private and the public sector and the focus on public-private partnerships instead of ODA (Official Development Assistance), Pascual said.
“So, I guess the presidency of Mr Marcos will really focus initially on addressing these problems but in the end, he had to pay attention to the longer-term of challenges that the country faces in order to achieve sustained growth,” Pascual said.
“What we’d like to see, people who are appointed are really competent in the job. If political appointees are appointed in important agencies, that may not bode well,” Barcelon added.
“Definitely, the importance of economic team is going to be crucial as we know that the problem’s we’re facing, inflation and high debt, is really a pressing matter,” he said.
With Marcos set to become the country’s 17th president based on the partial unofficial result, Fitch Solutions said it had raised the country’s “Policy Continuity” subcomponent score to 80 from 70.
“Going forward, we expect the change in administration to result in only negligible changes to both economic and foreign policy direction,” it said.
Fitch Solutions said it had also raised the Philippine Short-Term Political Risk Index Score to 66.5 out of 100, from 64 “after unofficial results showed that Marcos Jr had won the election with a landslide victory.”
Among the UniTeam’s campaign promises were the modernization of the
Pasig River Ferry System, the development of the country’s digital infrastructure, focus on jobs and prices, and the establishment of “food sovereignty,” among others.
Edillon said Duterte has already laid the foundation so his successor can “build on the gains.”
Duterte’s big “Build, Build, Build” program was aimed at generating jobs and boosting infrastructure growth in the country but only 12 o utof more than 100 projects in the pipeline were completed.
Earlier this year, the President signed an executive order that laid out his 10-point agenda for economic recovery amid the threat of
COVID-19, which included looser virus restrictions, further reopening the economy, and preparations for pandemic resilience.