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Such great economic progress  in last 3 years       



E CARTOON Feb 03, 2019When President Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at a joint session of Congress tomorrow, Monday,  it will mark the start of the second half of his administration.  A great deal is expected  in these next three years , especially in the economic  field. The World Bank  sees the Philippines as the fastest growing economy in the Association  of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) today. It is now  the  13th  largest economy in Asia, and  projected  to be the 5th largest  in Asia and 16th largest  in the world by 2050.

What could be the most significant economic development  for the country in the coming months and years  is  a joint  oil and gas exploration  with China which is expected to  begin this November, according to Energy Secretary Alfonso  Cusi,  chairman of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

President  Duterte  signed last May 28 Executive Order No. 80  removing a final roadblock to  an oil exploration, development, and production  agreement between the Philippine Exploration Corp. and the China National Offshore Oil Corp.  The  administration  had earlier signed  its first agreement with an Israeli company in 2018  covering a 416,000-hectare area east of Palawan. The  new agreement  with China covers a 720,000-hectare area in Calamian, west of Palawan. Calamian is one of two regions  near Palawan believed  to have considerable oil  resources;  the other is Reed Bank.

The  oil exploration agreement  is only one  area in  the multi-faceted relations  we have developed with China in the last three years. Our  trade with China, including Hong Kong, reached $417 billion this May, making  it the Philippines’ top trading partner. Philippine banana  exports tripled  in the first quarter of 2019 to $160 million.  Philippine  Online Gaming   Operations (POGO)  earned  P24 billion in taxes.  In 2018,  1.2 million Chinese tourists  boosted  the Philippine economy  by P32 billion;  2 million are expected  by 2020, a potential addition of  P50 billion to the economy.

In our ”Build, Build, Build”infrastructure program, China is involved in a big  way, including two donated bridges across the Pasig River, funding for a P500-million   Metro Manila flood-control project now on its second year,  a  P175-billion South Rail Project,  and  an P18.7-billion Kaliwa Dam to boost Metro Manila’s  water supply.

We may have ongoing  disputes in our conflicting claims to certain islands in the South China Sea, particularly in  the 200-mile  Exclusive Economic Zone we have renamed West Philippine Sea, but  President Duterte appears to have the situation well in hand.  He believes  the political  dispute will eventually be settled; in the meantime, he  is determined to see the Philippines benefit from the many  economic programs  that are underway.

The first half of the Duere administration ends today  with considerable  economic  growth and progress. We look forward  to the second half which, we expect, will be marked with even more  economic  growth, as the President  spells out his plans for the country in the  next  three years in his State of the Nation Address tomorrow.


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