Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman disputed on Tuesday, July 27 President Rodrigo Duterte’s assertion that the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic cut short economic advancement of the country that was felt before the contagion.
Lagman, an independent, said Duterte, in his final State of the Nation Address delivered on Monday, ignored facts indicating that the economy “has been steadily falling” even before the pandemic started.
Lagman said Gross Domestic Product (GDP) registered 7.1 in 2016, then went down to 6.9 percent in 2017, 6.3 in 2018 and finally 6.1 in 2019.
“GDP plummeted to negative 9.5% in 2020, which was the lowest ever including the Marcos years,” he explained.
In his press statement, Lagman pointed out: “While the Asia-Pacific region was hit with equal ferocity by the pandemic, the other countries weathered the contagion admirably, but the Philippines rather feebly.”
According to the veteran lawmaker Duterte “had a ‘medical populist’ approach to the pandemic’ that was similar to those of former President Donald Trump of the USA, President Jair Bosonaro of Brazil and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
“He (Duterte) belittled the virus as a joke; downplayed the public health crisis; relied on a militaristic approach to the contagion, consequently preventing scientists and medical professionals from taking the lead; and touted his own bizarre solutions to the problem,” said Lagman.
The Bicolano solon also pointed out that Duterte that the following negative indicators derail the economy: (1) decelerating Gross Domestic Product (GDP); (2) runaway unemployment; (3) increasing poverty and hunger; (4) galloping inflation; and (5) ballooning national debt, to which he failed to offer explanations and solutions.
“While the President highlighted the completion of some mega infrastructure projects, he was ominously silent on the infrastructure of the mind, particularly basic education,” Lagman stated.
“Duterte failed to refute the findings of the World Bank that in an international assessment on primary education, out of 79 countries the Philippines ranked last in reading and second to last in science and math,” he said.