A Malacañan official on Tuesday enumerated the achievements of the newly minted administration of President Rodrigo Duterte this year and its prospects for growth next year.
At a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella highlighted the administration’s accomplishment over the first six months particularly in aspects of economic growth, employment, infrastructure, international partnerships, the war against illegal drugs, and peace talks.
“Regarding economic growth, the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in 2016. With a 7% GDP growth in the first three quarters, we are sure to achieve, if not surpass, our target of 6 to 7% growth for the whole of 2016,” Abella said.
The Palace official attributed the country’s economic growth to household consumption, as well as investments in construction, public infrastructure and durable equipment. This was supported by low inflation, low interest rates better labor market conditions and the steady growth in the remittances of overseas Filipino workers, he added.
Government assistance such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) also provided additional boost to consumer demand, he said.
Abella likewise noted that the agriculture sector is also starting to recover and finally breaking five consecutive quarters of decline. Growth in industry, particularly manufacturing, construction and utilities also accelerated, he said.
He said the services sector likewise improved overall, with stronger expansion in trade, finance, real estate, and public administration.
Citing the prospects of the government, Abella said National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) “is setting a gross domestic product growth rate in 2017 of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent.”
On employment, Abella said in 2016, the Philippine labor market is found to be in better shape noting that employment rate as of October 2016 is at 95.3 percent.
“This means that there are approximately 41.7 million Filipinos employed, while unemployment rate also declined to a record low of 4.7 percent,” he said.
To improve employment sector, Abella said
the government will continue to work to improve local infrastructure and link the agriculture sector with industries to help raise the productivity of farmers and increase the value of their products.
In terms of infrastructure, Abella said the administration has so far approved 17 projects which include Phase 1 of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project; the EDSA Bus Rapid Transit Project; the Plaridel Bypass Road Project; the New Cebu International Container Port Project; the South Line of the North-South Railway Project; and the New Nayong Pilipino at Entertainment City, among others.
“The government is ramping up public infrastructure spending next year, allotting at least 5 percent of the GDP to go to infrastructure projects until 2022,” he said.
On international partnerships, Abella recalled the foreign trips the President embarked this year such as in China, Japan, and Peru and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Abella said the trips were very fruitful for the Philippines opening more opportunities for trade and investment.
“Our chairmanship of the ASEAN Summit next year will be a perfect opportunity for the Philippine government to forge more partnerships with our neighboring countries,” he said.
On the government’s war on illegal drugs, Abella said President Duterte’s determined campaign versus illegal drugs has resulted in the surrender of more than 900,000 drug addicts and the confiscation of billions of worth of illicit drugs.
He said exposing the drug menace has now led the government to look at it not only as national security but also as public health issue that resulted in building of rehabilitation facilities.
On the peace process, Abella said the President’s ultimate dream is for all armed conflict to stop and for the Filipino people to live in peace, safety, and security.
Meanwhile, at the same press briefing, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo called for an intensified and collective effort to stop the spread of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the country.
He noted that the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, could be prevented through collective societal effort, increasing awareness on the disease especially among youth and vulnerable populations, promoting use of condom, establishing test and treat service delivery networks nationwide and ending stigmatization and discrimination in workplaces.
He underscored the need to foster collaboration with other government agencies such as the Department of Education, as well as community-based organizations in order to reach the young and impart to them the correct information on HIV and its consequences and how to stop its transmission and spread.
Bayugo said the DOH is proposing the distribution of condoms to schools particularly among youth ages 15 to 24 as current statistics showed an increasing number of HIV cases among those ages.
Bayugo said they are eyeing to start distribution of condoms next year specifically in regions with the most number of HIV cases such as in National Capital Region, Calabarzon, and Region III.
“The DOH would like to say that the promotion of condoms does not encourage risky behaviors, rather it promotes responsibility, respect, and good health habit,” he said.
Bayugo likewise gave an update on the government’s “Iwas Paputok” campaign days prior to the country’s celebration of New Year.
He said there have been 70 firework-related injuries reported as of this date, which is much lower than the figures last year, and even compared to the last five years average.
“We’re praying that we’ll see less cases and no more deaths, no more injuries, no more amputation, so that everybody will be having a really prosperous and happy New Year,” he said.###PND