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FIRST moves and first impressions count big. In a new administration, they

lay groundwork for overarching goals and strategies. They also set the tone

that tells the government and the nation at large how the new leadership

really operates. Get the first 100 days wrong, and it could mess up the next

six years.

So in drawing up initiatives for his first 100 days in office, President

Rodrigo Duterte would do well to learn from his predecessor’s opening

moves—and how they led to big failings in the six years of the Aquino


Aquino’s original sins

President Benigno Aquino 3rd burdened his rule right from the start with

several unforced errors right in his first few months:

• Aquino constantly defended and refused to sanction cronies, starting with

shooting buddy Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno for the Aug. 2010 Luneta

hostage crisis.

• Aquino openly flaunted the law and disdained judicial restraints, starting

with his first Executive Order and leading to the illegal Disbursement

Acceleration Program.

• Aquino let jueteng and smuggling flourish, fueling graft and lawlessness,

by restraining gaming nemesis Secretary Jesse Robredo and Customs

reformer Guillermo Parayno.

• Aquino refused to implement the June 2010 Disaster Risk Reduction Act’s

mandate to create a billion-peso calamity response and preparedness agency.

• Aquino was averse to regular Cabinet meetings, leading to slow

infrastructure implementation and chronic underspending.

Let’s look at these boondoggles one by one.

Double-standard Daang Matuwid

Aquino put politics above all, so even Daang Matuwid was skewed. Under

his anti-graft policy, adversaries were excoriated, prosecuted and punished.

But his classmates, allies, and shooting buddies (KKK by their Filipino

initials) were spared investigations and sanctions.

Result: presidential associates could be caught in sensitive or even illegal

situations without fear of presidential censure. Thus, gaming czar Cristino

Naguiat, Jr. wasn’t even investigated for a Macau family junket illicitly

funded by a casino magnate, and Liberal Party stalwarts even got Aquino

bail money in their graft cases.

The double-standard Daang Matuwid extended to matters of law, which

could be flouted for presidential ends. Aquino’s first EO was voided for

targeting the previous administration. The Supreme Court suggested making

the EO applicable to all past regimes, to comply with equal protection under

the law.

Aquino dismissed the High Court’s advice, and that arrogant disdain for

legal strictures marked his presidency. His legal excesses reached their

height with the Disbursement Acceleration Program usurping Congress’s

power of the purse. Yet despite the Supreme Court itself noting that DAP

funds “were allocated to [programs and projects] not covered by any

appropriations” in the budget, Aquino insisted he was right.

Unleashing the lawlessness scourge

If those first two failings did not directly harm many Filipinos, the next two

did: Aquino’s willful abetting of jueteng and smuggling, and his refusal to

create and fund a billion-peso calamity agency as provided by the National

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law.

The flourishing of illicit gambling and contraband spurred the explosive

growth of lawless groups and their cohorts in government and police. Thus,

crime incidents tripled from 324,083 in 2010 to more than a million a year

Plus: 2.since 2013—spawning the nationwide fear of lawlessness. and former customs and revenue chief Guillermo Parayno. The NDRRM Act. hired by the International Monetary Fund as customs reform consultant for his success at the ports. . even among the affluent and educated. then looked away as contraband trebled to $26. Aquino’s refusal to create a national disaster agency exacerbated calamity. Aquino himself triggered the jueteng and smuggling surge by shielding these illicit activities from two proven nemeses: then-Local Government Secretary Robredo. Aquino took the Philippine National Police away from Robredo’s supervision and placed the PNP under Undersecretary Puno. And after interviewing Parayno for Customs. many probably with guns and drugs. Aquino gave it to others. who wiped out the numbers game in Naga City. crafted with input from leading disaster experts here and abroad. envisioned a billion-peso entity similar to America’s formidable Federal Emergency Management Agency.6 billion in 2014. which propelled Duterte to his landslide victory. named by Archbishop Oscar Cruz as “ultimate recipient” of jueteng payoffs.000 uninspected containers vanished in 2011. The do-nothing President If letting jueteng and smuggling flourish inflicted crime and drugs on Filipinos.

. Even the vaunted PPP. With little presidential follow-up. drawn from similar norms and standards set by Transparency International. draw up a code of conduct for presidential appointees.Aquino never implemented this provision of the law. which Aquino played up in his first State of the Nation Address in 2010. Then create a Presidential Transparency Commission with both Palace and non-government members. to monitor compliance with the code. and similar high-integrity entities. the country remains an infrastructure laggard. response and recovery at both national and local levels. suffered interminable delays. which would have greatly enhanced disaster preparedness. for all our growth. even his pet public-private partnership initiatives. Also unfunded was the billion-peso People’s Protection Fund. And these hold-ups began with Aquino’s lack of enthusiasm for Cabinet meetings. Five moves for Duterte’s first 100 So what should the next Malacañang man do to correct the incumbent’s failings? First. public works spending halved for the first time in 2011. the World Bank. legislated under Aquino for projects safeguarding communities threatened by disasters triggered by climate change. Also affected by Aquino’s so-called “Noynoying” style were infrastructure projects marked by long delays. Thus.

R. which was first published in BusinessWorld.Second. . implement the NDRRM Act’s mandate for a billion-peso disaster agency and the People’s Protection Fund projects. (2016. revive the Palace body monitoring major projects during the Estrada and Arroyo administrations. The Manila Times) In the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Wednesday. Third. created during the Arroyo administration. with regular reports at frequent Cabinet meetings. showed that the president gained a +64 net satisfaction or “very good” rating in the first quarter. to restore mutual respect among the co-equal branches of government and affirm the Duterte administration’s commitment to the rule of law. 2016 President Rodrigo Duterte  garnered a “very good” satisfaction rating for his first three months of service as the country’s president. May 18) First 100 days: Correcting Aquino’s mistakes. if necessary. for those illicit activities corrupt law enforcers and border authorities and fund crime groups. (Saludo. with a supplemental budget for 2016. Fifth. include jueteng and smuggling in the war against lawlessness. convene the Judicial-Executive-Legislative Advisory Council. The survey. October 5. Fourth.

The remaining 13 percent marked that they were undecided. According to Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. while 11 percent were dissatisfied. Compared to former President Benigno Aquino III’s +60 net rating. . this just showed that Filipinos trust what the president is doing. Duterte’s ranking was higher during the same period of his administration. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Duterte’s high satisfaction rating was not surprising since he was overwhelmingly elected in the May 9 polls “on the strength of his platform of tunay na pagbabago (real change) anchored on a strong anti-drugs. anti-crime and anti-corruption agenda.Meanwhile.’ Former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte recognized the president’s achievements in solving the country’s “internal war. A former national security adviser went on to describe Duterte’s first 100 days in the office as ‘exceptional. he suggested that Duterte should tone down his verbal attacks and insults. broken politics and the business which is monopolized by few.” However.” With a net rating of +64. it showed that 76 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with Duterte’s performance so far. which may distract the public from the real problems of the country.

“The other concentration which distracts the nation is the colorful language of the president. trivial things. To me. Duterte has continuously lambasted the United States. EU and UN.” Since taking office at the end of June. “Even the president may not realize that is not good. I am hopeful he will change when the time comes. The deaths have garnered criticism from human rights groups and international community.791 arrested and 734. Crime operations In his public speeches.” Almonte said. .231 surrenderers.m. adding that toning down the colorful statements would be a “big change.S. we can correct this. these are.. including the U. 1. according to the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s official record as of 6 a. the United Nations. the European Union. and international human rights groups who have criticized him for the alleged spate of summary killings in relation to his war against illegal drugs. 22. on October 6. Asked for an assessment regarding the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said the administration is winning the battle so far.” Almonte said.390 drug suspects were killed.

however.  said the peso’s decline should not cause any alarm as it would boost the value of dollar remittances instead. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.06 finish in 2015. Within Duterte’s first 100 days of service.” Justino B. Inc. The economy “We just like to say that the president is off to a very good start. the Philippine peso has declined P1. October 3. the Philippines Stock Exchange (PSE) index reached its second-highest close but eventually trimmed down as foreign investors sold some of their holdings in the stock market for 24 consecutive sessions starting August 23.“One sentence.” Abella said.4 percent (this year). Jr.. We are winning. head of marketing and research at A&A Securities.. Piggybacking on that is the World Bank report that Philippine economic growth is expected to accelerate to 6. He also mentioned that the investment commitment in the country this year has so far soared 200 percent to P51 billion from P17 billion last year. Calaycay. We are winning the war on drugs.225 from its 47. . citing a Board of Investments report. “The present government actually had a short honeymoon period with reference to the market. At the same time. told BusinessWorld through e-mail.” he noted on Monday.

Bobby Lim. Ulang. amid Duterte’s verbal attacks.”  said Cristina S. according to a BusinessWorld report. Meanwhile. particularly in the area of energy. Jessen said part of his task “ is to understand changes. “From an investor’s point of view. European Union ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said European businessmen remain keen on investing in the Philippines. research head at First Metro Investment Corp. the undersecretary for aviation.Some economic analysts said that the decline was attributed to Duterte’s threat to cut ties with the America. new ideas and views” of the Philippines as the host country. No more incidents of the bullet-planting scheme have been recorded as well. noted that the general aviation from the Ninoy Aquino Aquino International Airport helped the increase of on-time arrivals from 47 percent to 71 percent. Undersecretary for Train Noel Kintanar said the waiting time between trains at the Metro Rail Transit was reduced to from five minutes to .. the Department of Transportation said there were lesser flight delays now. Duterte will be swift in making the Philippines globally competitiveness. there was only one clear message from the new administration and that was Mr. Meanwhile. Transportation affairs Adding to the list of Duterte’s achievements.

The Filipino will only be going around that one building.351 .4 billion in economic losses daily. “I asked [Labor Secretary Sylvestre] Secretary Bello to rent a building that’s for overseas concerns only. One of his promises during the election campaign was streamlining government processes. was difficult to fix in 100 days. Currently.” made several changes and new policies the affairs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).” Duterte said during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). The Manila traffic jam. according to him.four-and-a-half minutes. who said he “hated to see Filipinos lining up and waiting. police clearances…in the building with booths. however.  which he started to fulfill through the establishment of one-stop service centers. Duterte is seeking emergency powers from Congress to ease the heavy traffic that results in an estimated P2. The number of breakdowns was also lessened. One-stop service center for OFWs Duterte. In its accomplishment report on the first 100 days. Put everything there: BIR. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said. the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency said the centers have so far served a total of 88.

“While the Duterte administration’s performance in the past three months is exemplary.” Andanar said in a statement.OFWs. with the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). led by former President Benigno Aquino III. war on drugs. “More than ever. Asian Journal) President Rodrigo Duterte has constantly reassured the public of his promise to sustain the previous administration’s momentum for social development as well as to confront the challenges it failed to address by introducing . as announced by Presidential Communications Office (PCO) head Martin Andanar. (2016. this is not the time for complacency. which was also  initiated by the previous administration. (Sioson. October 8). but also in fighting poverty and improving the lives of the underprivileged and the powerless. Duterte’s first 100 days: a progress report on the economy.” he added. since its opening. we ask for the full support of all Filipinos behind the president’s reform agenda so that we can achieve lasting peace and prosperity in the years ahead. By August 15. D. The issuance of these new passports will be faster by 35 percent will allow the delivery and printing of a passport within only five days. There is much work to be done not only in eliminating the scourge of illegal drugs and crime. 2016 the government started issuing new passports with added security features.

it intends to establish a distinct national vision/framework for development. Similar to its predecessor. among others. private investments particularly in the delivery of essential social services often lead to . there are clear manifestations towards broadening private sector involvement. plans and programs anchored on the people’s collective vision” to uplift the living conditions of every individual. Banking on people’s aspirations. as well as facilitating connection to local and global value chains.” The growth objectives presented in the PDP however are not entirely as people-centered as they appear. Although the first few months of his term was spent on making true his campaign promise on a war on drugs. setting it above the inclusive growth model promoted by the last administration. in his first State of the Nation Address in 2016 articulated the broad strokes of his administration’s social development agenda: to improve the people’s welfare in the areas of health.radical changes. Highlighting the human development approach. education. adequate food and housing. the PDP aims to implement government “policies. The 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) fleshed out Duterte’s pronouncements into actual strategies and programs the government intends to pursue in the next five years. induce the expansion of the middle class and achieve a society “where no one is poor. Duterte. While this is not entirely wrong in the economic/growth discourse.

The AmBisyon 2040 is supposed to sum up the living aspirations of most Filipinos. education.privatization and has not exactly worked for the poor in terms of accessibility. three out of eight priority agenda in the AmBisyon 2040 pertain to social development and the extension of government services5 for housing. and health to every individual. Will the public still see the radical changes he promised? Distinct or Similar? Development is not only measured through economic gains but also through improvements in well-being and living conditions. four out of five Filipinos want a simple and comfortable life. Thus. enhancing the potentials of Filipinos is at the very core of the PDP’s 10th . The other view is that it is important to develop a person’s capability because it has economic value4 and interventions are seen as capital to fuel economic growth. Enhancing capabilites (or what a person can be or can do in life such as being healthy or owning a home). which means enjoying a middle class lifestyle such as owning a house (and a car) and having enough savings to afford education. provide individuals better opportunities to transcend poverty. These contradictory goals put into question how Duterte intends to confront social development challenges. Based on a survey conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) before crafting the PDP. Also. health and other leisures such as travelling for vacations abroad.

accessibility. leaving thousands of houses in several resettlement areas unoccupied. but were dampened due to the lack of social impact assessments. For health. net enrollment rates increased under the Aquino government. Based on NEDA’s assessment in the PDP. there are milestones in terms of achieving targets based on the indicators posted by the Millennium Development Goals. the increase in the number of health facilities have resulted in the lack of health professionals deployed in communities and budget to sustain medical equipment and supplies. But does this distinction signal a complete departure from the old strategies and thrusts for social services delivery? Financing. but as an end goal itself. the direct housing assistance increased outputs. but with the added feature of integrating the anti-drug campaign in communities. . i.e. for capitalist production. For education. Same with education which should also focus on access and relevance to industry growth. For housing. and delivery networks are key factors in the delivery of public health service. The housing sector also defined outcomes related to accessibility. but the quality of education suffered due to imbalances in student-learner ratios as well as insufficient learning facilities. but several gaps in terms of accessibility and the quality of services delivered still have to be met.chapter on “Human Capital Development” which also interprets human development not just a means to an end.

Continuity is essential to progress. But does the need to address persistent social problems equate with the adoption of past development models? .

there is a gap between the promise of social development in the PDP and what we can expect. still believe that Duterte will honor his pronouncements. For education. Whether or not government targets will be met or again missed depends on how bottlenecks in implementation as well as policy and budget gaps are addressed. such as the universal access to quality tertiary education or a universal ‘Cuban Style’ health care system. we can can take the view that the Duterte administration might not radically differ from past governments’ social development agenda. What the Budget Says Having a vision is one thing. a six percent8 automatic . But the radical changes Duterte has promised in terms of health. education. While others may find fault there. one could find resemblances in strategies and programs with those of the PNoy government’s. Based on these observations on the PDP. according to a recent Social Weather Station survey7.Looking closer at several key interventions in social development presented in the current PDP such as the expansion of service delivery networks and health financing. if we compare to the amount of rigor that went into framing other “priority” programs such as infrastructure and the war on drugs. and providing the necessary budget towards realizing it is another. and housing are somewhat missing. 52 percent of Filipinos. And from what the 2017 General Appropriations Act reveals. improvements in the quality of technical and higher education for global competitiveness and the increase of direct housing assistances.

with the Department of Education receiving the highest among all government agencies at 544 billion. the budget for operationalizing this has not been reflected in the 2017 budget. and housing. Based on the 2017 GAA. what the government has allocated is a far cry from reaching the promises/ambitions of the Duterte government for health.appropriation of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is needed to realize the promise of free tertiary level education. both NEDA director general Ernesto Pernia and . In addition. according to former appointee Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial10.600 units per day. or to build some 2. But the total budget for public education is still only two percent of the GDP and is almost equal to the combined budget for the military and police. Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives has passed the bill granting full tuition subsidy for students in state universities and colleges. an additional 57 billion is needed to bring the doctor to patient ratios9 near the Cuban Health System or even the World Health Organization standards. registering a 32 percent growth increase from the previous year. Vice President and former Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chief Leni Robredo said the “gold standard” target is two to five percent of the GDP in order to close the gap of 5. though lower than the budget for infrastructure development. For public health services. The education budget is at 637 billion. education.5 million housing units the previous administration left in socialized housing. For housing. The Commission on Higher Education budget also increased by 237 percent at 18 billion.

This is despite the huge housing backlog of 5. down by 54 percent to 15 billion. and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council which is now under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.budget secretary Benjamin Diokno admitted that the government cannot afford the 100 million budget streamlined for the free college education bill11. the budget for service delivery networks was cut by 10 percent. which would not meet the amount needed to close the doctor-patient ratio gaps. Although the health budget increased by 19 percent at 149 billion compared to the previous year’s. .5 million target for direct housing assistance under the 2017 PDP. The housing sector suffered deep budget cuts as well. more than 50 billion was allocated to expand health financing under Philhealth. even if only for this year. which will be shared by the National Housing Authority. The 2017 budget’s priorities are: peace and security. Social Housing Finance Corporation. infrastructure development.5 million units12. plus the 1. and the war on drugs. While the government aims to improve health access of the poor. how they will become reality is not very clear when the budget is used as indicator. and only 7 billion is alloted each for Health Human Resource Development and the Doctors to the Barrio Program. and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation. While Duterte has set the bar high through these promises.

For health. that the government will not pursue future policy reforms. the Philippine Qualifications Framework Bill. Given that the PDP presents a space to put forward the policy foundations needed to reinforce government goals and ambitions. however. the government must have been either selective or realistic on what policies they want the PDP to endorse.Legislative Support The legislative agenda presented for social reforms under the present PDP seems to lack the radical shifts towards attaining the promises pronounced by Duterte for health. highlighted by the Local Population Development Act and the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act. Even notable policies such as the passage of the National Land Use Act. For education. priorities have transcended basic education to include improving the quality of mid-level to higher education. and the National Mental Health Care Delivery System have been inherited from past Congresses. It is also important to note that the only policy agenda endorsed by the plan for expanding health human resources are . These policies also appear to be less exhaustive compared to those proposed under infrastructure development. as highlighted by the Philippine Qualifications bill and Apprenticeship bill. and housing. education. the government seems to lean towards population services. it only endorses 14 new policies for three sectors compared to the 13 policies endorsed only for infrastructure development. But in terms of numbers. This does not mean. the Idle Land Tax Bill.

private provider participation will be “harnessed and coordinated when planning Service Delivery Networks.” For health. as well as in scaling up technical and vocational training programs. For housing. For education. The same could be expected in the current PDP assuming that it remains “cognizant of the private sector’s efficiency and innovativeness. and securing supply-side investments. Creeping Privatization In Aquino’s PDP and economic policies. and the passage of the Comprehensive Shelter Finance Act— all of which have already been filed and refiled numerous times. the legislative agenda remains addressing the structural/systemic discord in housing services through the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Socialized Housing Development Finance Corporation.” For housing. private sector involvement is apparent on “updating course programs and the alignment of domestic regulations for the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF). we have witnessed the expansion of private sector collaboration through the promotion of Private-Public Partnership (PPP) agreements.” further stimulating private sector participation in improving the quality and sustainability of its projects. implementing interventions. key shelter agencies are prompted to involve private stakeholders in crafting the National Resettlement Plan and to secure .Amendments on the Barangay Nutrition Scholar program.

this is caused by the increasing number of commercialized HEIs that use curricula that are misaligned with the Commission on Higher Education’s standards and policies as well as privileging of business interests over quality considerations. commercial-ready innovations. On the other hand.486 private schools offering senior high school. incentives. there are clear linkages between the government’s strategy in enhancing the quality of education to be more responsive to industry needs and private sector involvement in developing curriculums in the name of pursuing “leading-edge. private education subsidies have already reached P23 billion in 201714. In the current PDP.additional financing from the private sector to attain the expanded targets for socialized housing services. compared to 220 non-DepEd public schools. While the number of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines is 10 times more than in its neighboring countries. it falls short in producing innovators with a ranking of 74 out of 128 in the Global Innovations Index. The Voucher Program however has been mired in controversy due to the lack of accountability15. especially from private institutions that receive subsidy. with 4. .13 According to the PDP itself. too. and rewards for universities who collaborate with industry partners.” The PDP also states that the government also devise performance measures. to accommodate K to 12 spillovers.

18 In 2012. the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association presented to the Board of Investors their 2012-2030 Philippine Housing Industry Roadmap with calculations of the economic impact of private business investments for socialized housing. the incumbent health secretary also declared that at least 33 of the 72 public hospitals will be privatized to gain financial autonomy17. with 2. This strategy would further deprive the poor of health care services since. the Commission on Audit found that the Health Facilities Enhancement Program had roughly 1. and equipment.3 jobs created for every million invested. in the name of financial viability.32 value multiplier for local . particularly those with higher service capabilities. the HFEP is in danger of being a vehicle for privatization by entering into public-private partnerships to improve facilities and equipment. In addition. In 2016. and for every peso invested. among others. facilities.” Given the strategy to tap private investments for improving service delivery networks outlined in the PDP.16 This basis alone. a 3. In that same year.Private hospitals greatly outnumber government hospitals. the Philippine Institute for Development Studies observed lower health service utilization in areas where the private sector had increasing role. corporations will still require patients to pay on top of government subsidies. interventions therefore.1 billion due to “idle and/or unutilized hospital buildings. to reduce “out-of-pocket” sources which highlight the thrusts of the 2017- 2022 Philippine Health Agenda can be seen as a profitable arrangement for corporations engaged in the health sector.

businesses as well as a . While this only expounds the rationale behind private investments on socialized housing. Magpa-hospital kayo. ako ang magbayad. Fleshing out these ambitions. health. the Ibon Foundation has warned that private developers will continue to amass profits from socialized housing through guaranteed payments from the government and that these socialized housing units will remain unaffordable and unattainable for many despite government-private sector collaboration to lower amortization costs. they won’t be able to sue me. The human development approach in the delivery of education. along with the emphasis of . Anyway. and housing services is a welcome change. Duterte is ambitious in envisioning the delivery of a holistic social development package.90 pesos tax multiplier for each household. [To all Filipinos listening to me now.] – said President Duterte in his 2017 State of the Nation Address. Go to hospitals. however. Whose Development? Kayong mga Pilipino nakikinig sa akin ngayon.047 income multiplier and 3. remains a challenge especially when the 2017-2022 PDP merely escalates the strategies and programs of the previous administration for social development. I will pay for it. responsive to the aspirations of every Filipino and founded on improving the living conditions of the poor. tutal hindi man nila ako mademanda.

private sector investments and collaboration. Focus on the Global Sout ) . Human as Capital. Human capital development. which is nothing new. will inevitably be more targetted based on the economic value an individual could possibly generate. which the government plans to do through private sector involvement.increasing quality. By deliberatelty continuing the same strategies and programs found in the previous PDP. disbursement. There are both gains and losses in engaging in PPP. public investments made by the government will always be weighed by the economic outcomes. in sum. something which the PDP embodies as it factors in industry participation. and utilization of public funds. September 6) Duterte’s Social Development Agenda: Radical Change or Business as Usual?. is wealth viewed not as an end in itself but as a means to more wealth. Instead. and innovativeness. R. (2017. The litmus test for this is addressing budgetary and operational impediments. and competitiveness as part of intended interventions and outcomes. sustainability. it should focus more on effective and responsive program implementation as well as the timely and proper allocation. accessibility. but the government should veer away from inviting business interests and profiteering in key programs that uplift the dignities of its citizens. although government has explicitly defined it as improvement of individual capacities as an end in itself. much less radical. Baladad.

it also sold these uncharted Middle East destinations to Filipinos. acceptable—even desirable—as an option or strategy for a better life. While a markedly improved economic situation in recent years has not diminished the outflows. the protection aspect assumed more importance. By the latter half of the 1970s. For decades. When the Philippines launched an overseas employment program in the 1970s. .In the Philippines. As destinations diversified and women joined the labor migration flows. more than 10 million Filipinos—or about 10 percent of the population—are working and/or living abroad. as deployment and competition with other origin countries increased. surfacing labor migration problems (including poor working conditions and abuse by employers) prompted the government to address migrant welfare and protection. trends long attributed to the fragile economy (and exacerbated by frequent natural disasters). sizeable numbers of Filipinos have left home in search of permanent settlement or temporary work overseas. a deeply rooted and pervasive culture of migration has made moving abroad common. it has allowed the country to move beyond its longstanding labor migration policy to incorporate migration into long-term development planning and strengthen the return and reintegration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Today. the thrust was finding labor markets: The state not only promoted Filipino workers to the oil-rich but labor-short Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The “success” of this approach. according to the Central Bank of the Philippines. the positive economic news has not slowed or halted emigration. and policies aimed at enhancing the protection of OFWs and their families. the country received US $26. Thus. and though the economy has grown. Nonetheless. sustainable development that provides decent work opportunities continues to elude the . This is likely because Filipinos have more resources to migrate. There are concerns that reliance on remittances may have delayed the implementation of needed reforms. while also providing protection to OFWs. This dual approach of facilitation and protection contributed to making the Philippines a major source country of workers and talent for the global labor market.9 billion in money transfers. unemployment has yet to be tempered. In 2016. After several boom-and- bust decades. however. and the economy proved resilient through political crises and transitions.The government subsequently developed a number of institutions. Recent attempts to link migration policies with development policies demonstrate a remarkable shift in governance in the Philippines. in the 2000s the Philippine economy entered a period of impressive growth: Between 2011 and 2016. steady flows of remittances have become the country’s lifeline. gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an average of approximately 6 percent yearly. may have trapped the Philippines into complacency: Large. spurred on by civil-society advocacy. laws. earning positive reviews from the international community. The Philippines ranks third after India and China as major recipients of remittances.

the Philippines became a U. On the mainland. low-wage service work in the cities provided income between agricultural seasons or when other jobs were not available. Box 1. Background: The Centrality of the United States in Early Filipino Migration After more than three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Definitions Overseas Filipinos is the term encompassing all Filipino migrants. .Philippines. Some 4. For much of the 20th century. others left Hawaii to work in agriculture in California. mostly single men. More workers. 1906 to work on sugarcane and pineapple plantations. and Washington. but this employment possibility ceased with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 requiring the crew of U. This country profile examines the evolution of migration policymaking and trends over the past several decades and through the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. flag vessels to be at least 90 percent American citizens.000 Filipinos were employed in the merchant marine.S.S. legal or unauthorized. or the salmon canneries of Alaska. The first batch of Filipino workers arrived in Hawaii on December 20. Oregon. territory as a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898. whether permanent or temporary. followed. "international migration" for Filipinos meant moving to the United States and its Pacific territories.

Estimates place the number of Filipino workers coming to the United States. intracompany transferees. students. trainees. traders. businessmen.  Temporary Migrants – Filipinos whose stay overseas. or who may be overstaying their visa. owing to the employment-related nature of their status in their host country. Filipinos naturalized in their host country. The OFW term is commonly used. and are temporary migrants. between 1906 and 1934 at 120.000. Filipino dual citizens.  Irregular Migrants . and their accompanying dependents. entrepreneurs. is temporary.Overseas Filipino Workers. chiefly to Hawaii. a further sign of the pervasive role that labor migration occupies in Philippine society.000 to 150. and their descendants.Filipinos who are not properly documented or without valid residence or work permits. Filipino spouses of foreign nationals. or OFWs. while regular and properly documented. Include land-based and sea-based Filipino workers. and others whose stay abroad is six month or more. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas includes the following categories of migrants in its stock estimates:  Permanent Migrants . represent a subset of Overseas Filipinos. A small .Filipino immigrants and legal permanent residents abroad.

Because the Philippines was a U. The law limited the Philippines to 50 visas per year. But even so. while others remained in the United States. the movement of Filipinos to the United States was considered internal migration. It was not until the passage of the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Law. also migrated to the United States before the 1920s. They were typically either sponsored by the U. Other countries of settlement also dismantled their pro-European immigration policies in the 1970s.S. Following passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Filipino immigration grew and diversified. and migration dropped off dramatically. paving the way for Filipinos to enter Canada. government or by missionary-related programs.or skills-based .S. As U. and Filipinos in the United States became aliens. World War II intervened and further migration to the United States stalled. Australia. colony. and New Zealand under family. which struck down nationality-based restrictions.number of scholars. the governor of Hawaii was authorized to hire Filipino workers.S. there was an exception clause: In case of a labor shortage. but could not access citizenship. Filipinos could enter and leave the country freely. nationals. known as pensionados. that the Philippines became subject to immigration quotas. which provided for the granting of Philippine independence within ten years. until the Philippines became independent in July 1946. Some returned and assumed important positions in Filipino society.

Although the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) estimates the stock of permanent migrants (which includes Filipinos born overseas. Becoming a Source Country of Workers A number of factors led to the ascent of the Philippines as a major labor exporter in Asia and worldwide. The Philippines eventually became one of the top ten origin countries in these traditional immigration destinations. In 1974. the Philippines was ripe for large-scale labor migration.provisions. see Box 1) is larger than that of temporary migrants. an opportunity the government of Ferdinand Marcos recognized. At the same time. Economic gains could not keep pace with population growth. their distribution throughout the world. the GCC countries needed workers to realize their ambitious infrastructure projects. This permanent migration. and the country was hard pressed to provide jobs and decent wages while grappling with severe balance of payment problems. was overshadowed by the larger and thornier temporary labor migration that started in the 1970s. When large-scale labor emigration began in the 1970s. With supply and demand converging. the Labor Code of . however. the country’s migration policies have focused on the significant annual outflows of temporary workers. the push factors—already quite strong—were worsened by the 1973 oil crisis. and the myriad related issues.

political instability. The flow of OFWs. the push factors did not abate. The data on deployed workers include seafarers. unabated population growth. surged past 1 million beginning in 2006 (see Figure 1). However. especially in East and Southeast Asia. lasting only until the country recovered from its economic problems.the Philippines established the framework for what became the government's overseas employment program.844.000 Filipinos worked abroad. numbering a few thousand per year in the early 1970s. more than 1. accounting for 25 to 30 percent of the world's seafarers. who account for 20 to22 percent of all OFWs every year. fueled further migration. Figure 1. and low wages continued to compel people to head abroad. persistent unemployment. In 2015 alone. the ongoing demand for workers in the GCC countries and the opening of new labor markets in other regions. Lack of sustained economic development. The Philippines' foray into organized international labor migration was supposed to be temporary. 1975-2015 . On the supply side. Filipinos dominate the global seafaring industry. Annual Deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Source: Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). including some 4. “Compendium of OFW Statistics. mostly because of work.9 million permanent settlers (64 percent of whom are in the United States). the stock of overseas Filipinos totaled slightly more than 10 million.” accessed July 6.2 million temporary migrants (mostly labor migrants. with Saudi Arabia hosting close to 1 million). Although the destinations of OFWs have diversified. As of December 2013. Filipinos are present in the far reaches of the globe. about 4. the Middle . 2017.2 million unauthorized migrants worldwide (primarily in Malaysia and the United States). to this day. or OFWs. and an estimated 1.

i. 2015 Source: POEA. “Compendium of OFW Statistics. Qatar. and Bahrain). Taiwan.” Filipino women are very visible in international migration. females have generally outnumbered men among the newly hired land-based . In 2015. Hong Kong. United Arab Emirates. Figure 2. six of the top ten destinations for both new hires and rehires were in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia. They not only compose the majority of permanent settlers. as part of family migration. Deployment of Land-Based OFWs by Region. since 1992. Oman.. In fact. followed by Asia with 28 percent (see Figure 2). Kuwait.East still receives the largest share. and Malaysia). but are as prominent as men in labor migration. and the remainder were in Asia (Singapore.e. with 64 percent heading to the region in 2015.

Likewise. The problems that emerged in the 1970s remain the same today: illegal . mostly in Japan. Entertainer migration was particularly controversial and stigmatized because of perceptions that women ended up in the sex industry. the significance of domestic worker migration was a major push for the Philippines to ratify the 2011 Convention on Domestic Workers. the numbers dropped sharply in 2005 following Japan’s decision to adopt more stringent requirements for foreign entertainers.workers legally deployed every year. the safety and well-being of women migrants became a significant concern. the demand for entertainers. From a deployment to Japan of tens of thousands of Filipino entertainers annually. While the demand for domestic workers has long been the main driver of female migration from the Philippines and Asia in general. also fueled this migration. domestic work was the top occupation for new hires. until 2005. which recognizes domestic work as labor that must be protected. The participation of private recruitment agencies in matching workers with employers abroad has contributed to the challenges. With work in the domestic and entertainment sectors unprotected and prone to abuse. at 38 percent. Beyond Labor Migration The growing volume of labor migration from the Philippines has increased the incidence of problems and challenges faced by migrants and their families. In 2015.

among others. The Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010 set a goal of sending 1 million workers overseas every year.” This stated desire to a return to welfare and protection was accompanied by legislative and executive actions to further regulate labor migration and expand services for OFWs. The 1995 Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act. Over the years. he signed Republic Act (RA) 10022 into law. and no days off (in the case of domestic workers). a landmark law. His social contract with the Filipino people included the goal of moving “from a government that treats its people as an export commodity and as a means to foreign exchange. aiming to further strengthen measures to . disregarding the social cost to Filipino families. their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority. The focus on protection shifted during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-10). This thrust was reversed by the subsequent administration of Benigno Aquino III (2010-16). institutional and policy development in the Philippines was geared toward worker protection. aimed to provide protection to OFWs from predeparture through arrival and return.recruitment. contract substitution. and when its citizens do choose to become OFWs. to a government that creates jobs at home. illegal placement fees. Soon after Aquino took office. long working hours. when the government for the only time to date set a target for the deployment of workers. so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity.

and other overseas Filipinos in distress. and a separate set of rules and regulations applying to land- based workers. The contributions come from the OWWA membership fee of US $25 per . Implementation-wise. and to manage the funds from member contributions and interest from investments. certifying a country as safe or unsafe can be politically and diplomatically sensitive. The law also mandates recruitment agencies or employers to provide OFWs with compulsory insurance to cover accidental death or disability. which launched a new charter bolstering the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) also amended recruitment industry regulations. among other protections. their families. The welfare and protection of OFWs received another boost in 2016 with RA 10801. This agency’s mandate is to provide programs and services for the welfare of OFWs and their families. which negatively impact migrants. such as exorbitant placement fees and contract substitution. resulting in the 2016 Revised POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers. and deployment bans (even for good reasons) have not proven effective in stopping migration. Among the law’s key provisions is the restriction of deployment only to countries that have been certified as safe and offering protection. These measures were aimed at curbing the illegal practices of recruitment agencies.protect migrant workers.

stating that the national government would allocate a regular budget for the operations and personnel expenses of the agency. The 2016 OWWA charter changed this. The law also identified the reintegration program as a core function for OWWA. A number of nongovernmental organizations had criticized the government for not financially contributing to OWWA operations. and takes into account trafficking and new developments. The law mainly prohibits commercial or for-profit matching or offering of . such as online transactions. A new law (RA 10906) strengthening the Anti-Mail Order Bride Act of 1990 was enacted in 2016. shifting responsibility from the Department of Labor and Employment. The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 (RA 10364) amended the 2003 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to enhance concerted efforts to combat trafficking and increase penalties for violators. the amended version applies to Filipino men as well as women (though marriage migrants are overwhelmingly female). Unlike the earlier law. The government’s antitrafficking measures also strengthen the protection environment (although trafficking can also occur internally).contract (which employers or recruitment agencies are supposed to cover but instead pass on to OFWs). which would free up more funds for programs and services. Growing marriage migration also has caused anxieties about the welfare of women who marry foreign nationals. Those who are identified as victims of trafficking can access support and assistance.

The development impact of migration was mostly discussed in terms of economic benefits. or over the Internet.Filipinos to foreign nationals through the mail. 3. National. regional. 5. Linking Migration and Development Beyond the now-traditional facilitate-and-protect policy framework. particularly remittances. At the regional and local levels. A 2007 conference and a 2010 comprehensive study on migration and development in the Philippines brought to the fore five key observations: 1. in person. The social costs of migration to families were often mentioned. The global discussion on the migration and development nexus may have influenced reflections in the Philippine context. policies in these areas were . for the purpose of marriage or common law partnership. the migration and development nexus was more of a disconnect: Except in the case of remittances. In other words. Migration policies in the Philippines were primarily focused on temporary labor migration. migration governance in recent years has also started to make inroads on migration and development. and local development plans did not take international migration into consideration. there were few migration institutions. 4. 2.

The Central Bank of the Philippines had taken the lead on improving the remittance environment. BaLinkBayan. and the national framework was out of sync with local frameworks. and hosted the second such forum in 2008. Despite this implementation gap at home. other migration and development initiatives were not as persistently pursued. implemented. However. created in 1980 to look after the concerns of permanent migrants and nurture their links to the Philippines. At the start of the Aquino administration in 2010. embraced the task of “Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Development. not just OFWs. These development-related discussions have also expanded the domestic migration conversation to encompass the broader population of overseas Filipinos. likely driven in part by the enormous importance of these money transfers as well as the relative ease of monitoring formal remittances. compared to other impacts such as social costs.not linked. It has actively participated in the Global Forum on Migration and Development. CFO also lobbied and cooperated with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). the key government agency responsible for development . the CFO. or monitored. the Philippines has become a global leader in discussions on migration and development.” The commission began more actively reaching out to the Filipino diaspora through global and regional summits and developed a one-stop online portal for diaspora engagement.

Duterte rattled off a list of migration-related goals. Migration Governance under Duterte: Is Change Coming? After campaigning on the promise of “change is coming. policies. In his first State of the Nation Address in July 2016. A year into the Duterte presidency.planning and policy. those overseas largely voted for Duterte. There has also been movement toward involving local governments in developing institutions. local officials tended to think of overseas employment as a national government concern and responsibility. While few local governments have established migration centers. and programs on migration and development. the POEA and OWWA have forged partnerships with local governments to enhance the reach of their programs and services. Further. Like Filipinos at home. to integrate international migration issues into the Philippine Development Plan 2011-16. his administration has sent mixed signals on how it will handle international migration. In the past. succeeding Aquino. . Sixty provisions on migration and development appeared in seven out of nine chapters of the plan. NEDA created an interagency structure to promote attention to migration and development and improve coordination among migration- related agencies and other government agencies. 2016. including under Phase II of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI).” Rodrigo Duterte became the 16th president of the Philippines on June 30. in 2014.

In its first 100 days. such as extending the validity of Philippine passports from five years to ten years. Discussions are underway to cut through more red tape. Similarly. Duterte’s proposal to create a single department to effectively address various OFW concerns would be a departure from the multiagency approach that the Philippines has fashioned over the years. The first—waging “war against traffickers and illegal recruiters”—basically continues predecessors’ protection thrust. These centers gather in one location the government agencies where applicants or overseas workers secure documents needed to process their papers. the nod to financial education for migrants and their communities was part of the package of migration and development initiatives in the 2000s. Other changes.namely to combat human trafficking and illegal recruiting. including setting up one-stop shop service centers at the POEA. were hailed by OFWs. provide mandatory financial education to migrants. the Duterte administration introduced some immediate moves to hasten government processes affecting OFWs. However. and consolidate offices and agencies dealing with overseas Filipinos to more efficiently respond to their concerns. such as dropping the requirement for vacationing OFWs to secure an overseas employment certificate and the introduction of an online seafarer registry. .

suggesting a single department would be more efficient. Rather than create another bureaucracy whose components will be carved out from existing departments or divisions. Proponents argue that the proposal is intended to fulfill Duterte’s campaign promise to better serve OFWs. while the goal of bringing OFWs home one day has been expressed by all presidents. it has largely been unrealistic. In his first year as president. Interestingly.To Consolidate. Duterte Finds Approval Among OFWs The response of OFWs to President Duterte is one of overwhelming support . He said. he made 21 overseas trips. or Not To Consolidate? Duterte’s allies in Congress lost no time in proposing versions of the bill to create a single migration department. visiting 18 . He sees a department devoted to OFWs as further institutionalizing overseas employment. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has a different idea. Opponents argue that the various agencies that cater to different types of overseas Filipinos and/or have different mandates have already developed competencies to perform their functions. which he claims is the very opposite of what this administration wants." However. opponents argue it would be more constructive to improve coordination among agencies. "Our final goal is to bring them back to the country and we can only do that if we give them decent jobs. Civil-society organizations are divided on this proposal. decent pay.

Appearing before Filipino communities in these GCC countries. When he met with Filipinos in Japan. and Qatar in April 2017.countries and touching base with Filipinos abroad. who greeted him enthusiastically. His overseas audience sees his hardline stance. this is my promise to you and God and to those working abroad. as decisive and the war on drugs as necessary to rid the country of drug addicts.000 alleged drug users and dealers have died in extrajudicial killings carried out by police or vigilantes. So we will do away with so many things. more than 7. Corruption.” Indeed. he repeated his promise to deliver better services through the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers. the crowd applauded his promise to end the Filipinos’ search for opportunities outside the country: “I work hard that we will earn more so that by the time. Bahrain. Duterte never fails to discuss the central program of his administration: the war on drugs. In his visit to Saudi Arabia. Duterte stated he was ready to kneel before OFWs to show his appreciation for their sacrifices in sending remittances home. The reactions of Filipinos abroad to the . which has received international condemnation. in his visits abroad. this will be the last. The next generation of Filipinos will work in the Philippines. then drugs. Since he took office. according to Human Rights Watch.

and the PDP aims to cut the poverty rate from 21. The new PDP explains.5 percent by 3-5 percentage points by 2022. as development plans are typically anchored on the six-year cycle of each administration. No longer weighed down by an unmanageable fiscal deficit and more secure in its political legitimacy. in February 2017 it approved the Philippine Development Plan 2012-22. ambition). but also situates the development agenda within the longer-term AmBisyon Natin 2040 (Our Vision 2040. . literally. and from 30 percent to 20 percent in rural areas. mostly of poor Filipinos. which reflects the aspirations of Filipinos for themselves and their country. The new PDP builds on the previous development plan. the Philippines is in a more favorable position than it has ever been in the last four decades. Long-Term Development Offering another glimpse into how the new administration will address migration. “As one of Asia’s better-performing economies today. This long-term view in the new PDP is novel. It also seeks to reduce the unemployment rate of 5.6 percent to 14 percent overall. the government can now afford to think about national goals based on a longer time horizon.” The Duterte administration’s target is to achieve annual GDP growth of 7-8 percent in the medium term. as well as the disregard for human rights and the culture of violence that the war on drugs has bred have been muted.killings.

although reports indicate some 200. where they earn a higher income than in Hong Kong. ASEAN Member States. and mathematics) workers outpaces local . notably Singapore and Malaysia. throughout. technology. engineering. Duterte overtures to these two countries may have played a hand in identifying them as potential future destinations. and ensure their smooth reintegration upon return.000 unauthorized Filipino domestic workers live in China. strengthen their engagement in governance. In the case of China and Russia. the PDP acknowledges the push factor in labor migration. these two receive a small number of Filipino workers. facilitate their participation in the country’s development. noting that “Limited employment opportunities force Filipinos to migrate by necessity and not by choice.” It points to regional integration initiatives such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and efforts to strengthen ties with China and Russia as opportunities to diversify destinations. It gives attention to the special circumstances of migrants and their families. Limited employment opportunities also affect higher skilled Filipinos. have long been OFW destinations. often referencing migrants directly. A study assessing the country’s innovation found that the supply of STEM (science.The new PDP gives special attention to overseas Filipinos by incorporating international migration issues. and aims to protect their rights and improve their well-being. For now. In its chapter on human-capital development.

the government’s key planning agency. which leads to emigration and underemployment of skilled scientists and engineers.demand. and is open to the idea of tapping foreign experts. has come to appreciate the importance of migration. And their emigration results in brain drain. . The last two Philippine Development Plans have integrated migration into national development planning. migration governance in the Philippines has gone beyond labor migration policies and remittances. which deprives the country of human capital important for development. The summit aims to produce thoughtful reflections and action plans that will respond to the opportunities and challenges that return migrants carry with them. NEDA. Since 2016. the National Reintegration Center for OFWs has been conducting consultations with stakeholders nationwide in preparation for the reintegration summit that will be held in August 2017. including overseas Filipinos. the Subcommittee on Migration and Development. making strides toward linking migration policies to broader development goals. Looking Ahead In the past decade. has been established within NEDA to improve coordination among government agencies and devote more attention to migration and development. for institutional capacity building and development expertise. The PDP calls for strengthening the long-running Balik Scientist (Return Scientist) Program and similar schemes. and a mechanism.

Asis. among others. the groundwork for the expansion of migration policies in the Philippines has been started. Geneva: International Organization for Migration (IOM). Stephen Castles and Raul Delgado Wise. Sources ABS-CBN News. eds.These are important milestones that need to be fleshed out and sustained over time. In other words. the next task is to keep up the momentum to maximize the development potentials of migration. Creating OFW Department 'Goes Against' Duterte Admin Goals. 2017. How International Migration Can Support Development: A Challenge for the Philippines. In Migration and Development: Perspectives from the South. . Bello Says. the setting up of Migration Resource Centers and similar structures in local government units and integrating migration in local development plans. Maruja M. April 14. mainstreaming and upscaling projects for local institution capacity building. At the local level. 2017. ABS-CBN News. B. have been implemented in selected regional and local governments. 2008. while continuing to look out for the well-being of migrants.

Graziano and Maruja M. (2017. 2017. Maruja M. B.d. Protecting Filipino Transnational Domestic Workers: Government Regulations and Their Outcomes. Eyes on the Prize: Towards a Migration and Development Agenda in the Philippines. Philippines: Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Makati City. Moving Out. Maruja M. eds. 2008. ed. President Duterte’s First State of the Nation Address. 2016. 2011.Asis. July 25. Discussion Paper Series No. B. Asis. R. Fabio Baggio. Accessed May 18. Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). Manila: Scalabrini Migration Center. September 6) Duterte’s Social Development Agenda: Radical Change or Business as Usual?. In Brick by Brick: Building Cooperation between the Philippines and Migrants’ Associations in Italy and Spain. B. BaLinkBayan: Overseas Filipinos’ One Stop Online Portal for Diaspora Engagement. Quezon City. ---. Asis. CFO Statistics on Philippine International Migration. Duterte. Focus on the Global Sout Battistella. and Golda Myra Roma. Rodrigo. N. Baladad. 2017. 2010. 2011-12. Back and Up: International Migration and Development Prospects in the Philippines. and Fabio Baggio. Manila: Scalabrini Migration Center. Philippines. Manila: CFO. . 2016.

Garcia, Pia. 2016. Duterte to Filipinos in Japan: One Day You Will Not

Have to Work Overseas. CNN Philippines, October 29, 2016.

Human Rights Watch. 2017. Philippines: Duterte’s First Year a Human

Rights Calamity. News release, June 28, 2017.

IOM and Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC). 2013. Country Migration

Report: The Philippines. Makati City and Quezon City: IOM and SMC.

National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). 2004. Medium-Term

Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010. Pasig City: NEDA.

---. 2011. Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. Pasig City: NEDA.

---. 2017. Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. Pasig City: NEDA.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and

Scalabrini Migration Center. 2017. Interrelations between Public Policies,

Migration and Development in the Philippines. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Philippine Information Agency (PIA). 2017. One-Stop Service Center for

OFWs (OSSCO) Now in 15 Locations Nationwide. News release, PIA,

January 2, 2017.

Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW). 2016. Do We Need a

Department of Migration? Press release, PMRW, September 9, 2016.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. 2016. Overseas

Employment Statistics: Deployed Overseas Filipino Workers 2014-2015.

Accessed May 18, 2017.

---. Various years. Compendium of OFW Statistics. Accessed July 6,


Republic of the Philippines Official Gazette. 2010. A Social Contract with

the Filipino People: Benigno S. Aquino III Platform for Government.

Accessed May 18, 2017.

Saludo,R. (2016, May 18) First 100 days: Correcting Aquino’s mistakes,

The Manila Times)

Sioson, D. (2016, October 8), Duterte’s first 100 days: a progress report on

the economy, war on drugs, Asian Journal)

Yan, Alice. 2016. Is It Time for China to Open Its Doors to Filipino

Domestic Helpers? South China Morning Post, October 19, 2016.


The Duterte administration heralds the next five years as the “Golden Age

of Infrastructure.” Infrastructure development is envisaged to support the

three pillars of the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), namely

malasakit (enhancing social fabric), pagbabago (inequality-reducing

transformation), and patuloy na pag-unlad (ensuring growth potential). The

country lags behind in Southeast Asia in terms of infrastructure quality and

spending. As a bold move, the Duterte administration commits to boost

public spending for infrastructure from the current 5.1 percent to 7.4 percent

of gross domestic product by end of his term.[1] Further strengthening the

commitment is the creation of an infrastructure cluster headed by Secretary

Carlos Dominguez III of the Department of Finance to lead this initiative.

During the first quarter of 2017, Duterte’s economic managers unveiled the

$160 billion or 8.2 trillion infrastructure plan before foreign investors and

the Filipino business community. Build, Build, Build[2] (BBB) is

coordinated by the country’s major infrastructure agencies, namely the

Department of Transportation (DoTr), Department of Public Works and

Highway (DPWH), Bases Conversion Development Agency (BCDA), and

the National Economic and Development Agency (NEDA). The

administration claims that having these agencies coordinate is to be a

historical first. Based on government’s data, about 61 projects[3] worth 1.7

and (3) new and better cities. about 200. airports and seaports. for every $1 billion spent on infrastructure. transportation and traffic woes. which recognizes the role and comparative advantages of cities as engines of economic growth.[5] Three Components The Duterte administration hopes to attract more investments into the country by focusing on three components: (1) building more railways. (2) more bridges and roads. These components underpin the PDP’s National Spatial Strategy (NSS). which certainly forms part of the government’s strategy for unemployment rate reduction of 3-5 percent or six million new jobs by 2022. and high prices of goods and services. The government sees infrastructure development as the solution to job generation.trillion[4]. .000 direct jobs are created. urban mass transport. which are in various stages of project development and implementation.”[6] The NSS is a strategy discussed and adopted among the country’s technocrats during the tail end of former President Benigno Aquino III’s government and has found its way as a key framework under the President Duterte’s PDP. poverty reduction. are included in the initial list. According to the International Labor Organization’s estimate for developing countries. and infrastructure development “to provide efficient connective networks of sustainable urban and rural communities.

5 percent or 18 projects have been earmarked for improvement or building of new airports. the Mega Manila Subway estimated at 227 billion would be the top project. Almost every Filipino has argued for more quality roads and bridges.Under BBB. in the sense that it can spur new enterprises. The subway will be a 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system that will connect major business districts and government centers in the capital and is expected to serve about 370. almost 20 percent or 12 projects in total. DPWH will handle 15 projects with an estimated cost of over 276 billion. DoTr will implement more than half of the infrastructure projects worth 1. The top five most expensive infrastructure projects are all railways.17 billion. Figure 1 shows that 29. About 11 new railway projects will be constructed that are mostly carry-over from the previous government of Benigno Aquino III. improved airport facilities. This will be followed by building of roads and bridges. while BCDA will implement 11 projects.000 passengers per day. Common sense and economic expertise also dictate that infrastructure have “a multiplier effect to existing industries as well as linkage effect. Addressing the infrastructure deficit of the country has been a major demand of different sections of Philippine society.”[7] . Memories of ‘carmaggedon’ along EDSA linger and decongesting major cities is one of the campaign promises of President Duterte. which are new cities or special economic zones (SEZs) which would cost 317 billion. and mass transport systems for everyday mobility and to ease people’s lives.

But has President Duterte delivered on his promise? Has the first year laid the foundation to support his PDP’s three pillars of malasakit. Build. pagbabago. Build Projects by Sector Lion’s Share for ‘Imperial Luzon’ President Duterte promised to expand to the periphery. and patuloy na pag-unlad? Figure 1: Distribution of Build. This would mean focusing on the neglected regions of the Visayas and Mindanao via more public spending and ending the domination of ‘Imperial Manila’ through a shift to federalism. Coupled with his plans to build new SEZs in every nook .

where less than 40 percent of the total national population lives. while the regions in the Visayas and Mindanao combined will only get 18 projects. the Duterte administration will follow the same pattern of skewed distribution of public infrastructure projects of the past.45 billion worth of projects. BBB is peddled as a tool to facilitate not only the flow of trades. Altogether. the historical/current focus (see Table 1). and investments but also spur economic activities and consequently reduce poverty in the periphery. which covers the regions of Metro Manila. In terms of combined value/costs. The projects in Central Luzon will involve three railways. In terms of number. However. both in terms of total number and total value/estimated costs. Central Luzon. an airport and a road/bridge.18 billion and Metro Manila accounting for almost 366 billion. Government’s data reveal that ‘Imperial Luzon’. . Central Luzon leads with 564. the map below illustrates how Luzon will get a total of 27 projects. and hence. they comprise 82. which is similar to the previous administration’s infrastructure spending. Even for projects that will cover inter-regional/multiple regions. and CALABARZON. people. followed by interregional/multi-regional (mostly located in Luzon) for 533. six components of Clark Green City. majority of them will be in Luzon.and cranny of the country. would still be the geographic priority of the infrastructure projects.8 These two regions plus CALABARZON accounted for almost two-thirds of the GDP from 2014-2016.9 percent of all infrastructure projects’ costs. goods.

operations. flood control. and two flood control projects.Metro Manila gets five mass transit. road/bridge. .644 billion.9 percent of combined costs or 227. projects for the Visayas and Mindanao will account for only 12. railways are most expensive. Compared to other infrastructure. The remaining projects involve mass transit. more than half are to be allocated for airport development. and railway (see Table 2). and maintenance. four roads and bridges. Unfortunately. two railways.

Government Takeover and ‘Hybrid PPP’ What is qualitatively different from the past administrations is the shift from Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to government spending as the main .

China. involving around 60 countries.9 As mentioned above. Duterte’s economic managers have criticized PPP as slow in terms of taking off ground. a multi-trillion-dollar. President Duterte made a pitch of the BBB program before global leaders present at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.”[10] The Philippines however is not included in OBOR. the current government prefers to source financing from taxes and ODA.1 trillion. Iloilo. As part of its pivot to China. 90 percent of which are ODA. On May 2017. all of which were included in the PPP list during Aquino’s erm.financing mode. such as China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity. Laguindingan. Government has taken over the operation and modernization of five regional airports in Davao. Bacolod. especially Chinese ODA. massive undertaking to build infrastructure networks to connect Asia and Europe. The combined value is estimated at 1. Figure 2 shows that more than half of the projects will be sourced from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and official development assistance (ODA) including Chinese ODA. He explained that the country’s program can “complement regional and international connectivity mechanisms. and Bohol as well as the improvement of Clark International Airport. the government hopes to be part of this initiative. .

Aboitiz Equity Ventures.[11] The private sector has expressed their concern over what they deem as government takeover. Based on the PPP Center’s data.5 billion new international airport construction. Inc. the subject of unsolicited proposals from the private sector.This policy shift has hit the pause button on the battle of Filipino billionaires. Metro Pacific Investments Corporation. 20 . But the government has yet to issue a decision. particularly on who will bag the $1. citing that the government is not the best stakeholder to handle infrastructure projects. and Henry Sy’s SM group have all tendered their proposals to the Duterte government. Ayala. San Miguel Corporation.

Laguna Lake dredging. North-South Railway Project . a scheme commonly adopted in infrastructure projects in the country by governments after Marcos. Roll- off).South Line . Government/public spending under BBB is crucial as past experiences have exposed the weaknesses and contract anomalies as well as demystified the non-transparent PPP processes and false promises.) would be affected by this policy shift. and a life with dignity are necessary. and construct infrastructure projects and then transfers the operation and maintenance back to the state/public entity.projects in the pipeline (MRT Line 6. people’s mobility.g.[13] This is somewhat a reverse Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT). etc. especially those that promote universal public provision of goods and services. NorthRail and Roll-on.Operations and Maintenance Component. Concerns About BBB Infrastructure. all designed to protect corporate profits (e. These are fundamentally incompatible with ensuring universal access to quality public services (see Duterte’s Social Development Agenda: .[12] However. in which the private sector receives a concession or contract from the state or public sector to fund. design. Secretary Dominguez has allayed their fears by explaining that a hybrid PPP is underway. NAIA PPP Project. which means that government will take the initial steps to jumpstart the construction and “the PPP component will come later when the operations and maintenance of the project are bid out to the private sector”.

The proclivity for fast-tracking projects is exemplified by the road heightening and tide embankment project in typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)- affected communities in Leyte province. One. has pointed out the project’s threats to the livelihood and survival of the coastal communities. citing the project’s own EIA. with . despite these warnings. the project went ahead. a consortium of affected communities and NGOs monitoring the government’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda corridor. The Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP). Luzon still gets the bigger share of the pie. A 2016 study conducted by the Center for Environmental Concerns stated that the said project can lead to the loss of 97 hectares of mangrove forest and wetlands. However. Bypassing processes can generate social and environmental problems. the body that reviews all investment projects in the country. even without accomplishing specific tasks under project procurement or the endorsement of the NEDA Investment Coordinating Committee.Radical Change or Business as Usual? on page 37) and protecting the environment. Only 25 out of the 61 projects have completed an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and four of them are already being implemented without one. as mentioned above. Second. some of the projects did not follow the usual project cycle and are now ongoing construction. with potential displacement that can exacerbate their existing vulnerabilities. there are concerns about the current state of BBB.[14] Still.

NBN-ZTE deal). possible displacement of urban poor communities. Third. environmental degradation. and cutting of trees. This is consistent with AmBisyon 2040. and the Philippines have demonstrated the bad practices in terms of corruption (e. Many of Duterte’s infrastructure projects involve right-of-way. Experiences of Africa. the involvement of Chinese ODA and investments raises a red flag. and land grabbing by Chinese companies. Therefore. neighboring Southeast Asian countries.g. Finally.DPWH Region 8 admitting in a public consultation that they had been pressured to produce results by the national government. the initial projects intend to facilitate the activities of the middle class. Infrastructure costs are much higher if socio-environmental impacts are considered. one could not help but anticipate that the socio- economic and environmental costs of BBB will be borne by those already marginalized and vulnerable. labor rights violation. the country’s new long-term vision to become an upper middle-class country. Given these concerns. more than the poorer sections of Philippine society. it may not be a surprise if struggles and conflicts around infrastructure projects escalate and intensify in the next five years. clearing of lands. . negating Duterte’s promise of malasakit and pagbabago.

NEDA. The last two are part of the Clark Green City initiative which started during Benigno Aquino III’s government. 7 Comment by James Matthew Milaflor of the Institute of Popular Democracy. there is a variance of 7. 2 BBB’s website does not include 33 projects from NEDA’s database. 3 The budget for four projects are yet to be determined. Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. 36. This is response to a crowd sourcing question: “is an aggressive government spending a sound . NEDA’s database also contains the complete Consolidated Infrastructure Investment Program. Central Spine RORO Alignment Project. mainly from the PPP projects of DoT and DPWH.. posted on the author’s Facebook page.Sources: 1 NEDA (2017). Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. which totals 248. These are BCDA Smart City Solutions. p.8 billion in budget estimation. and New Clark City- Agro-Industrial Park. 5 NEDA (2017). 6 Ibid. Ortigas Center. New Clark City-Mixed Use Industrial Real Estate Developments. 4 Based on the datasets of PPP and BBB.05 billion. NEDA. Ortigas Center. which details infrastructure projects by other government agencies.

job generation and poverty reduction/ public goods objectives. Development and Peace Caritas Canada. Frustrated in the Philippines. 13 Ibid. 12 “Unexpected policy shift”. . (2017). 9 Philippine Daily Inquirer (2017). “Dinhi kami nabubuhi” (We live here). N. A. Editorial.policy as long as it’s done for better infrastructure. (2017). Philippine Daily Inquirer. 11 Mukharjee. Build. Imperial Regions”. 10 Corrales. PDI. 2017. “Duterte pushes Build. Bloomberg Gadfly. Quezon City. March 28. Build program at Beijing Forum. unpublished manuscript. Philippines. 14 Center for Environmental Concerns (2016). “Unexpected policy shift”. even if it will lead to a fiscal deficit? What’s your take?” 8 Forbes Philippines (2016) “Leader Board: Public Infrastructure.