EDITORIAL - Still the worst place to be

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Still the worst place to be

For the second straight month, the Philippines ranked at the bottom of the world’s 53 largest economies in terms of pandemic resilience. Bloomberg, which draws up the ranking, noted that the Philippines had the worst COVID-19 vaccine coverage among the 53 economies. Continuing mobility restrictions also pulled down the country’s score.

The Duterte administration groused that Bloomberg was comparing apples and oranges, and that developing countries like the Philippines would clearly pale in pandemic response when compared with the advanced economies included in the rankings. The Philippines, however, also did worse than its regional neighbors with similar levels of economic development.

With 26 percent of the population vaccinated, the Philippines ranked behind its Southeast Asian neighbors, which had also battled the highly infectious Delta variant this year. Bloomberg ranked Indonesia at 48th place and Vietnam at 52nd, with over a third of their populations getting COVID shots. Malaysia, which has given doses to 76 percent of its population, ranked 50th.

Places in the COVID Resilience Ranking can change dramatically. Singapore, ranked No. 1 earlier this year, making it the best place to be during the pandemic with its COVID-zero policy, plummeted 20 places to 39th in this month’s study as it grappled with Delta-driven infections, prompting tighter restrictions.

While battling COVID, countries also continue to compete for job-generating investments. In this area, the Philippines also fared badly among the biggest Southeast Asian economies in a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. A recent PIDS research showed the Philippines ranking worst in seven of 13 indicators compared with the others in the so-called ASEAN-5: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

PIDS noted that as of 2019, the Philippines had the lowest foreign direct investment in ASEAN-5. The country was also seen as the most corrupt, with the weakest rule of law, the lowest score in ease of doing business, the poorest quality of roads, the highest corporate tax rate and the worst FDI equity restriction index.

Most economic analysts have already warned that the Philippines will be the regional laggard in post-COVID recovery, both in terms of public health and the economy. The challenge for the administration is to prove the analysts wrong.


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