Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11 August 2018


Undeniable fact: Philippine economic growth is slowing down. Growth rates last year were on the order of 6.7 percent. For the first half of 2018, it is 6.3 percent (6.6 percent in Q1 and 6.0 in Q2).

Now, the target for 2018 under President Duterte’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-22 is 7-8 percent. Which means that, for the country to achieve that, it will have to grow by at least 7.7 percent for the second half. An impossibility.

But, using 20-20 hindsight, we should have seen it coming. Because the country performed poorly in 2017, and thereby weakened its potential performance in 2018.
One hopes that President Duterte, using the data in StatDev, calls in the different agencies involved (actually the members of his Cabinet) and asks them to account for why they did not achieve the targets as set—of course, keeping in mind that some targets are more important than others.

For example, he could start with the three lowest performers (as far as the StatDev is concerned). And if they cannot explain satisfactorily, then maybe he should get rid of them (he always says he doesn’t care if they are friends, remember?). This evidence-based method of passing judgment is at least better than the ones he has been using—arbitrarily firing or forcing to resign some government officials, only to use them somewhere else.

So who would be quaking in their boots if the President follows this procedure? Well, the StatDev tells us that, out of 11 sectors monitored, the worst-performing sectors in terms of the number of targets likely to be achieved were (1) Shelter and Housing, where none of the four targets that were set out are likely to be achieved; (2) Governance, where, out of 16 targets, only six are likely to be achieved; and (3) Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF), where only 17 out of 61 targets are likely to be achieved.

Not only that. Together with the above info, StatDev also shows which government agencies are responsible, as well as which is the Reporting Entity. So it will be easy for the President to verify the data and determine who is to be called to account.

In the Shelter and Housing sector, all four of its targets are unlikely to be achieved, with two of them actually regressing (getting further away from the target)—the proportion of low-cost housing targets met to housing needs, and the  number of low-cost housing delivered. The responsible agencies? The National Housing Authority, the Social Housing Finance Corp., the Home Development Mutual Fund and the Home Guaranty Corp.—all under the aegis of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)—plus the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the local government units.

Wow. They have to explain this at-best snail’s pace progress (relative to target) in providing affordable housing. But isn’t the head of the HUDCC also now in charge of the Marawi reconstruction? What does this augur for Marawi? Should his head roll?

In the AFF sector, it is easier to pinpoint responsibility. Fifty-one of the 61 targets are the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture. Where did the DA fail? Mostly in increasing the yields as targeted of major commodities, and in increasing production volumes of others. And in the case of palay, its performance was mediocre (medium likelihood of being achieved). Secretary Manny Piñol has a lot to answer for.

The President should make heads roll.  Which heads? “All agencies” are responsible for Governance, says StatDev. Oops. Should the President fire himself?