Lower GDP over Duterte’s policies? ‘So be it,’ says Malacañang

Pia Ranada
Lower GDP over Duterte’s policies? ‘So be it,’ says Malacañang

Robinson Ninal

Environmental policies that have slowed down economic growth, such as the Boracay closure and stricter rules for mining, are 'justified,' says Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque

MANILA, Philippines – If the economy must suffer because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s environmental protection policies, so be it, Malacañang said after the government announced a slowdown in economic growth on Thursday, August 9.

If GDP (the gross domestic product) will further fall because of the desire of the President to protect the environment, so be it. We’re investing in the future, not just the present,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace news briefing on Thursday.

“He has given a higher priority to the protection of the environment and he makes no apology for it,” Roque added.

The Palace spokesman was referring to the Boracay closure  as one such policy that is “justified” even if it contributed to lower-than-expected economic growth in the 2nd quarter of the year.

“The closure of Boracay was justified. I don’t think we should approach Boracay purely from an economic, financial point of view,” he said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the closure of Boracay “partly made a dent on the economy.”  Economic growth was also adversely affected by the closure of some mining pits and taxes on minerals.

Pernia, however, said these policies were “prudent and judicious” and were made to promote sustainable and resilient development.

Still ‘very high’

Acknowledging the negative impact of some government policies on economic growth, Roque said Malacañang is “saddened” by the government’s failure to meet its target.

“We’ll do everything to meet them,” he said.

He pointed out, however, that 6% economic growth is still “very high,” even if below the 6.6% to 7% market expectations and the government’s 7% to 8% target.

As to the impact of the Boracay shutdown, Roque reminded the public that the famous island destination would “reopen” in October.

Duterte, however, earlier announced he would drastically limit the operation of commercial establishments in the island as he wanted to distribute most of the land to farmers and indigenous peoples. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.