2019 midterm elections
Partial and unofficial tally showed nine of Duterte’s chosen senatorial candidates made it to the so-called “Magic 12.” Meanwhile, opposition candidates, many of whom already accepted defeat, are struggling to gain a seat.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
Think tank: Results of midterm polls ‘bode poorly for the country’s long-term prospects’
(Philstar.com) - May 16, 2019 - 4:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — As President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies sweep the Senate race, the results of the midterm elections would do little to stop the country’s slide towards “autocracy” and would bode “poorly” for the country’s long-term prospects, a London-based think tank said.

Partial and unofficial tally of votes showed nine of Duterte’s chosen senatorial candidates made it to the so-called “Magic 12.” Meanwhile, opposition candidates, many of whom already accepted defeat, are struggling to gain a seat.

In a commentary sent to reporters Thursday, Capital Economics said many of the “useful” economic reforms introduced by the Duterte administration are expected to continue as candidates loyal to Duterte capture Senate seats.

However, the think tank warned that attempts to improve the business environment have been undermined by the actions of the president himself, particularly the firebrand leader’s “increasingly autocratic tendencies.”

“Duterte’s increasingly autocratic tendencies, including his willingness to undermine political institutions and attack his opponents, have caused foreign investors to take fright,” the think tank said.

“New approvals of foreign direct investment in 2017 and 2018 were less than half the average of what they were under Duterte’s predecessor,” it added.

Members of the Philippine Senate have had a reputation for being more independent-minded than their colleagues at the House of Representatives. The upper house is currently a mixed bag of political parties, and Duterte doesn't have the solid backing of many senators — an obstacle that had crippled past president’s attempts to push for some of their key reforms.

Last year, the first batch of Duterte’s proposed tax measures was enacted. Meanwhile, scrapping rice import quotas — which Duterte signed into law last February — cooled down multi-year high inflation and benefited the poor.

Next on Duterte’s legislative agenda is the second tax reform package, which seeks to replace the current system of sprawling tax incentives with a lower corporate tax rate. Commenting on the initial poll results, global debt watcher Fitch Ratings separately said it would continue monitoring the Philippines’ growth outlook, as well as progress on tax reforms and fiscal policies.

The Philippine leader also wants to rewrite the country’s Constitution and switch to a federal form of government.

“The result of the midterms, which were seen by many as a referendum on Duterte’s first three years, is likely to embolden the president further. Duterte now has a good chance of being able to garner the three quarters majority support in the Senate which he needs to change the constitution,” Capital Economics said.

“Duterte is trying to decentralise power across the country, a move we think would cause inequality across the country to widen even further. The change also risks concentrating even more power in the hands of the country’s self-interested political elites,” it added. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS
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