MANILA, Philippines – A week before the start of the 2022 campaign season, Manila Mayor and presidential candidate Isko Moreno presented an economic platform covering health, housing, education, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, “smart governance,” and more.
Moreno, his running mate doctor Willie Ong, and Aksyon Demokratiko senatorial candidates presented their platform on Monday, January 31, in their campaign headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
With the help of a slick video studded with numbers and percentages, Moreno and his campaign team sought to communicate an economic plan grounded by targets and rife in detail.
Watch the platform presentation here:
Campaign manager Lito Banayo said the platform, dubbed “Bilis Kilos 10-Point Economic Agenda,” was formulated based on a series of meetings with economic, agriculture, IT, education, and environment experts and inputs the team got from average Filipinos Moreno spoke with during his “listening tour” starting in September.
Below are highlights of the platform:
- Allot 1.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to housing per year, far more than the 0.02% of GDP allotted to the sector in 2020
- Target building 1 million housing units for 4.5 million Filipinos in 6 years
- Build vertical housing in cities near workplaces to reduce traffic congestion
- Impose well-planned zoning by making National Land Use Act priority legislation and designing cities to be “green, inclusive, self-sufficient, and livable”
- Increase to 4.3% the education budget to GDP ratio, from 3.4% from 2017 to 2021
- Target reaching 50th quartile in global education rankings
- Invest more in Early Childhood Education and Development
- Improve student-teacher ratio
- Revise curricula across all academic levels, including technical-vocational programs, improve quality of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education at all levels
Labor and Employment
- Lower cost and improve ease of doing business to attract more investments thus creating jobs
- Ensure Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Information and Communications Technology will work closely with businesses and startups, especially in their shift to digital
- Increase loan pool for micro, small, and medium enterprises to P30 billion
- Put up more special agro-economic zones
- Continue giving cash aid to Filipino families affected by COVID-19 pandemic
- Target one doctor for every 1,000 Filipinos, distributed evenly throughout the country
- Increase salaries of health workers, including barangay health workers
- Regularize nurses who are on job order arrangement, ensure they are getting special risk allowance
- Add 107,000 more hospital beds in first 1,000 days. Target is 1.7 hospital beds per 1,000 individuals.
- 10,000 scholarships per year for students in medicine and allied courses like nursing, medical technology, and pharmacy
- Address mental health issue
- Roll out a clear pandemic response roadmap: “Isolate, Test, Treat, and Vaccinate”
- Appoint financial experts to manage Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
Tourism & Creative Industry
- Create “tourism highways” and “tourism circuits”
- Promote sustainable tourism and event-based tourism
- Target tripling of tourism arrivals to 24 million by 2028, compared to 2019 level
- Fortify policies to cushion pandemic impact on tourism
- Build or improve roads, airports, and seaports across all regions
- Accelerate infrastructure spending
- Review port charges and initiate laws to lower shipping costs
- Make electricity affordable and stable, connect Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao grids
- Add more power plants to improve power generation
- Lower Feed-in-Tariff allowance for solar power since its cost is decreasing, thus reducing energy distribution cost
- Target 100% access to safe water and sanitation by 2026
- Zero water pollution by 2028
- Make urban rivers and other bodies of water clean enough to swim in and fish from
- Ensure every person has access to internet with at least 1 Mbps speed
Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0
- Increase spending on research and development (R and D) to 2%, from below 1% levels
- Develop fields like artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing for a higher economic return
- Support startup community so that, in six years, a “unicorn” venture will emerge (A “unicorn” is a privately-held startup firm with a value of over $1 billion.)
- Support businesses specializing in Industry 4.0 technologies by providing seed money, building capacity, and sponsoring competitions (Industry 4.0 refers to the 4th Industrial Revolution, industries based on technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things, quantum computing, genetic engineering, and more.)
- Implement a “National Artificial Intelligence Roadmap”
- Provide farmers with risk-free capital
- Help farmers adopt technology that will allow to be at par with average Filipino worker
- Connect farm-to-market roads and improve digital connectivity of farmers to consumers
- Establish a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
- Build and improve agro-tourism and agro-industrial zones
- Build more irrigation systems, improve existing ones
- Implement meritocracy in government appointments, ensure government officials and workers are “honest, competent, progressive, goal-oriented.” Promote “equity, diversity, and inclusion” in the government workforce.
- Encourage political inclusion by discouraging political dynasties in any form and banning fat dynasties (when multiple members of the same family hold positions at the same time).
- Provide safety net and social protection to persons vulnerable to pandemic, climate change, shift in technologies
- “Promote social harmony” and “channel Pinoy Pride” to develop national sense of belongingness, national self-confidence, and identity
- Celebrate diversity and promote respect for culture, religion, livelihoods, and minorities
- Make data open, freely available, and downloadable for public analysis
- Simplify government processes through digitization and automation and reviewing, removing, and updating existing laws
- Promote ease of doing business in all levels of government to curb corruption
How about debt?
Like Moreno, all presidential candidates making promises that will entail bigger spending on whatever sector will have to deal with the government’s mounting debt, brought about by COVID-19 funding requirements and falling revenues, also due to the pandemic.
As of November 2021, the Philippines’ debt stood at P11.93 trillion, which could reach P13.4 trillion this year, according to the Bureau of Treasury.
Meanwhile, the debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio, which shows the level of debt relative to the size of the economy, is currently at 63%, already breaching the internationally accepted threshold of 60%.
Moreno, asked how he would fund his programs given this debt, said he would find more money by tapping “underutilized” budgets and ask local banks like the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines to create loan programs targeting the sectors mentioned in his platform.
At the same time, he would save more government money by reducing unnecessary expenses.
“Underutilized, non-performing assets of government will be disposed of. There will be less wasteful, more effective, and hopefully, more efficient spending,” he said in Filipino.
As mayor, Moreno also resorted to billions of pesos worth of loans to fund his ambitious infrastructure projects in Manila.
He has said he would continue the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration, but would build “more hospitals, more schools, more housing.” – Rappler.com