2018 was not really a bad year after all
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 29, 2018 - 12:00am

Now that 2018 is about to end, it’s important to take stock of all that happened, both good and bad. In the political scene, the president is still in control and this is good for the nation that he enjoys the support of most sectors. Terrorism has been effectively contained and the insurgency is being held at bay. Duterte enjoys unqualified support from the military and police. There is no threat of a coup, and both external aggression and internal rebellion have not dented peace and security. The economy was not too bad, we maintained a relatively high growth rate, although for the nth time, we need to stress that the fruits of economic development are not trickling down to the poorest of the poor.

In the political scene, Duterte has put up a coalition of the most important political forces. The support of the Marcoses in the north as well as the alliance with the GMA forces in Central Luzon is strategic consolidation of political powers that assures support for Duterte's national policies and his legislative agenda. Southern Tagalog is well within his political axis of powers, with the alliance with political leaders from Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Quezon, and Rizal. The only problem is Bicol with Vice President Leni Robredo being in the opposition, together with senators Trillanes, de Lima, and the independent-minded albeit pragmatic Chiz Escudero. It’s good Senator Honasan has been recruited into the Cabinet. Duterte has no major problem in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The economy didn’t perform best in 2018 but we aren’t doing very bad either. Our economic growth remains one of the highest in the Asia-Pacific. But even if we achieve high GDP, considering that our population is still very high, necessarily our per capita income remains very low. We are lower than Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei. Of course, our potential for growth has been greatly enhanced by the “Build, build, build” program which brings a lot of money to the economy and eases unemployment and underemployment. Our outward labor migration remains very high as around 5,000 OFWs leave each day to work abroad. On a strategic perspective, this trend is not really good for our country.

There weren’t too many natural disasters in 2018. We didn’t have another Yolanda, Ondoy, or Sendong. The rebels didn’t gain headway. Terrorists are still lurking around but our military and police forces hold them at bay. The military civil relations have been successful in getting the support of communities in terms of intelligence and logistics. The secessionist movement is not a functos officio. It has lost relevance with the passage of the Bangsamoro Law. In other words, the head of state and head of government is completely in control. This is good for the nation and people. We do not want a president unable to consolidate political and military power.

It was not our best year, but 2018 was not really that bad either. We face a lot of challenges but the leadership is in control. As we look forward to 2019, we hope to at least maintain such a level of performance, or even improve it. Happy New Year to all!

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