De Lima's SONA assessment: 'Duterte mismanaged the PH economy'

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, July 27 said President Duterte should be blamed for the current state of the country's economy, saying he neglected it even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the Philippines.

De Lima made the remark following Duterte's pronouncement in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the Philippine economy was growing until the COVID-19 pandemic “stole everything.”

In the first place, the senator said Duterte had his priorities and strategies all wrong during the start of the pandemic, resulting not only in his failure to contain the virus, but also in his mismanagement of the economy.

"He said the economy was good until 2019, but the pandemic happened. If you are sleeping on the job, especially during the start of COVID-19, what can he do?" De Lima said in a statement.

Duterte, during last SONA, lamented how the COVID-19 affected the country’s economy: "Our economy, with investor confidence, was poised to leapfrog into the company of the world's fastest-growing economies until (the) COVID-19 pandemic stole everything.”

De Lima, however, noted that after being heralded by the international community as Asia’s most promising economy in 2015 under the leadership of then President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Philippine's economic competitiveness and freedom dropped under the Duterte regime.

Notably, she said the Philippines remained in recession as the economy shrank again to 4.2% in January to March, the fifth straight quarter of decline.

The detained Duterte critic said it is clear that the Philippine economy, under Duterte's watch, "has become a total mess."

At the very least, De Lima said Duterte is merely riding in the economic success of his predecessor.

"You have done nothing to improve the nation's economy, you just continued what the Aquino administration started in terms of infrastructure projects and financial reforms initiated by the previous administration,"" she told Duterte.