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Dutertes’ influence seen to continue after elections

REUTERS

THE PHILIPPINES would likely see broad policy continuity after next year’s national elections as the family of President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to retain influence in policy making, Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research said.

In a note released on Wednesday, Fitch Solutions said it retained its short-term political risk index score of 64 for the Philippines, where a 100 score indicates lower risk, with “upsides” seen.

“The confirmation of (presidential) candidacies has led us to believe that the prospects for policy continuity remain relatively high, with the main presidential candidates broadly offering continuity and the Dutertes likely to exert continued influence on policy making,” Fitch Solutions said.

Among the presidential candidates, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go is expected to offer the most policy continuity, with Fitch Solutions citing his ties to Mr. Duterte and his political party PDP-Laban.

“As a former close aide to Duterte during his presidency, Bong Go will likely press ahead with key policies such as Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure initiative and improving ties with China,” the think tank said.

Fitch Solutions noted that former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. favors Mr. Duterte’s “strongman” strategy and supports the rule of his father, late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. This could pose risks of more authoritarianism, it said.

“Bongbong appears to be one of the few candidates to agree with Duterte’s policy of engagement with Beijing, potentially offering the most policy continuity out of the announced candidates. Bongbong has given his support to Sara Duterte’s vice-presidential bid, which could lead to a strong joint campaign platform,” Fitch Solutions said.

Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio will run for vice-president in alliance with Mr. Marcos.

Fitch Solutions said Mr. Go and Mr. Marcos are both likely to favor “Beijing-friendly postures,” but they may face opposition from both the military and the public.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Sr. could retain some of Mr. Duterte’s policies, but Fitch Solutions said they would likely take on a “big tent” government that would address corruption and favor relations with the US over China.

Fitch Solutions maintained that Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo will likely struggle to win the presidency.

Ms. Duterte-Carpio, on the other hand, is seen as the “favorite” for vice-president as she likely benefits from her father’s continued popularity.

“While Sara is not running for presidency, her vice-presidential bid, along with Rodrigo’s senatorial bid, was in line with our view that the Dutertes would seek to retain influential positions within Philippine politics,” Fitch Solutions said, adding the Duterte family should “perform well” in May.

Mr. Duterte filed his candidacy for Senator on Monday.

Think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, Inc. on Monday said that 47% of Filipinos would vote for Mr. Marcos, with Ms. Robredo polling at 18% and Mr. Domagoso coming in third at 13%. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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