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Handling PHL Crises with Calm Resolve

The high approval and trust rating of President Duterte is enabling the government to handle the Taal Volcano eruption and the coronavirus crises with aplomb.

 

The public normally looks up to the government or leadership for guidance whenever a major problem or concern crops up. It is, thus, important for the administration to show confidence and remain positive when dealing with crises. I believe every problem can be dealt with and contained at once as long as we do not panic. This way, the crisis is quickly minimized and defused.

 

More important, a responsive government will reassure the confidence of the public and avoid a panic situation.

 

Take the case of Taal Volcano eruption last month. The government quickly marshaled its personnel and resources to avoid the loss of lives and minimize the damage from the volcano’s eruption. The state’s efforts to immediately help the displaced residents of Taal and nearby towns have built confidence among the victims and are speeding up the recovery process in the area. I am confident the Philippines will weather the Taal Volcano eruption as it is now showing signs of simmering down.

 

In the case of the coronavirus outbreak that is gripping China and the rest of the world, the government’s response was calculated. The Duterte administration has let the Department of Health handle the virus scare. Being the authority on health concerns, Secretary Francisco Duque is giving the public timely updates on the situation and advice on how to deal with or avoid the virus.

 

Informing the public is critical to the prevention of the disease. The World Health Organization is working round the clock with Internet and social media giants to fight widespread misinformation surrounding the deadly virus outbreak. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned of the dangers posed by “the spread of rumors and misinformation” after China reported a surge in deaths and infections from the contagious virus.

 

The coronavirus will hopefully blow over and I hope it will have a little and temporary effect on the global economy, particularly the Philippine economy. I also do not see the government panicking over the effects of the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease on the economy. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has downplayed the impact of the disease on economic expansion this year, with the government keeping the growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent for 2020.

 

Dominguez is showing poise and confidence during a recent Senate hearing. He said while the virus outbreak may dampen economic growth somewhat, “domestic tourism is expected to increase as more people would likely prefer to travel within our borders, thus boosting domestic consumption.”

 

Dominguez is banking on the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, a benign inflation rate, and stable monetary policy to sustain the momentum of economic growth.

 

“At this moment, it is reasonable to expect that while these developments might slightly restrain our economic expansion, these threats are not enough to force a dramatic reduction in our growth estimates. We are standing by our working projection of a GDP growth rate between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent for 2020,” says Dominguez.

 

A positive factor supports the bullishness of Mr. Dominguez. The timely enactment of the 2020 national budget and Congress’ approval of the validity of certain aspects of the 2019 budget until December 31, 2020, will provide what Dominguez calls “a double-barreled boost” enough to sustain our high growth trajectory.”

 

President Duterte’s approval rating of 87 percent in December from 78 percent in September will also help ease the job of the country’s economic team. Lawmakers view the President’s high approval and trust rating as “a deep political capital” to pursue reforms and improve public service.

 

These ratings, says Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun, “bode well for the implementation of new laws, programs and projects we in Congress support with the legislations we push for and our work in the committees.”

 

Such high approval ratings give President Duterte and his administration the ascendancy to implement his economic agenda of generating more jobs for the Filipinos and significantly reducing the country’s poverty incidence.