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Market Rider

Seriously losing traction

/ 05:41 AM September 19, 2017

Catapulted into power by an “unassailable” lead in a record turnout of voters in the last presidential elections, President Duterte, after over a year, now finds himself just as much “assailed” by recent developments linked to his war on drugs and critical stance against the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which is led by an equally recalcitrant head, Chito Gascon.

The war on drugs campaign is said to have yielded more than 4,200 deaths in only 14 months. Allegedly about a third of these deaths were the outcome of legitimate police operations while the rest were supposedly vigilante-style killings. The police catalogued these cases as deaths under investigation (DUIs), a term the police force never used until after the assumption of the Duterte administration.

The mounting incidence of DUIs and alarming ambiguity from the police in explaining why it’s happening, much less stop it, is simply inconceivable. Come to think of it, this type of killings only started happening in such frequency and magnitude when the campaign against drugs started.

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The massive popularity of the President got chipped further last week when majority of the House of Representatives gave the CHR a P1,000 budget for next year, effectively rendering it incapable.

The President’s promise to sweep away corruption is also getting nowhere, as proven by the latest fiasco at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the smuggling of over P6.4 billion worth of shabu. It is getting to be a total embarrassment, with everyone given the runaround how the loot ever got through.

Investors, most especially, are starting to question the administration’s ability to muster more growth and development when the country is experiencing weaker-than-expected economic results.

Telltale

Listening to the conversations of three gentlemen about the state of the economy, they could make you believe the country is not really moving forward, amid published expert opinions to the contrary.

The youngest who sounded like he comes from the steel industry rattled off some statistics, which he viewed the same way martyred revolutionary Che Guevarra despaired over the fate of democracies in South America during his time. He said, “Vietnam, with a population of about 70 million, [used] 16 million metric tons (MT) of steel last year. They are on track to hit 20 million this year.”

“[Even with] 110 million people, we only [used] 9.8 million MT last year. The country last year, too, imported 3.15 million MT of steel billets. From January to June this year, however, we have thus far imported only 1.49 million MT. Considering that traditionally, a bigger percentage of imports come in during the first six dry months of the year, we can already conclude with certainty that billet imports this year will be down significantly.”

“In glaring contrast, total steel consumption from 2010 to 2016 during the watch of [President Benigno Aquino III] grew by an average of 15 percent a year, or from 4.5 million in 2010 to 9.8 million MT in 2016. Billet imports during the same period more than doubled from about 1.5 million MT in 2010 to 3.15 million MT in 2016,” he added.

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These are also indisputable facts and figures collated by government agencies. “Pretty soon, we will be eating the dust of Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia,” he further lamented.

One of the two older guys, who is in a special transport business and claimed to be not exactly a Duterte fan, played the devil’s advocate to ferret more proof.

The other older guy, who seemed to come from the insurance industry, made a quick narration of some critical economic performances. He said: “The domestic manufacturing sector contracted in July, a reversal of the double-digit growth in the same month last year. Employment was also down 0.2 percent from 94.6 percent a year ago, which meant that some 2.373 million Filipinos got unemployed. Foreign investments dropped by 14 percentage points year-on-year. Japanese investments are down by 55 percent. And the peso is the weakest currency in Asia,” he added.

Bottom line spin

In investing, you don’t need to be an expert to come up with the right stock picks. You need not buy and sell at exactly the right time.

All you need is the power of common knowledge to win your game.

The “Che Guevarra” of the steel industry and the two “Old Legs” in their industries could serve as good sources of common knowledge on the actual state of the country’s political and economic fronts.

On second thought, one year could be too short a yardstick. Another year is probably needed before giving up on the administration’s abilities to deliver.

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