Salceda labels Forbes’ report on Duterte, PH corruption as ‘fake news’
MANILA, Philippines — Albay Representative Joey Salceda on Monday dismissed as “fake news” an article saying President Rodrigo Duterte “is turning the Philippines into a more corrupt and less democratic state.”
The report, published by Forbes Magazine, cited the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index which showed the Philippines drop to 113th place in the list of least corrupt nations out of 180 countries.
The country’s 2019 ranking is 14 notches lower than its 2018 ranking of 99th.
But Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, debunked the article and boasted the government’s efforts to get rid of corruption—particularly private corporation corruption.
“The single ever tax settlement in the country’s history, the Php 30 billion haul from the Mighty Corporation tax fraud case, happened under President Duterte’s robust leadership,” Salceda said in his four-page aide-memoire addressed to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
“Onerous deals between government and private entities are now being exposed and renegotiated, to promote the public interest,” he added.
Salceda also took note of the actions of the government towards “corruption-riddled agencies” such as the National Food Authority (NFA), the Road Board, and the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation (Quedancor).
The lawmaker further blasted the report which stated that “the rising corruption means that President Duterte’s anti-corruption rhetoric that helped him grow in power was just that—rhetoric.”
“Aggressive executive action has resulted in real and unprecedented increases in government revenue from previously untouchable tax evaders,” Salceda said.
Salceda said the report also concluded that the government is keeping Filipinos poor, which the lawmaker called the “boldest and most misguided conclusion.”
The lawmaker said that the poverty rate had declined from 23.3 percent in 2015 to 16.6 percent in 2018.
While admitting that the Philippines have yet to reach its growth potential, Salceda said that “this is the first time that they are witnessing a government with the political will to meaningfully address” the issues of poverty and unemployment.
“The article portrays the country as an oppressed nation with an ineffective and possibly corrupt leader when the same leader is enjoying record-high popularity from the only people whose opinions of his government matter to him – the Filipino people,” Salceda said.
The report argued that in the Philippines, “the old villains–corruption and political oppression–remain intact, preventing the country from developing modern infrastructure, attracting foreign capital, lowering unemployment, sustain economic growth, and escape poverty.”
“There’s a simple reason: every new regime uses the old mechanisms, which they had confronted before rising in office, to advance its interests rather than the interests of the masses,” the report stated.
On foreign policy
For Salceda, the report also “grossly simplifies Philippine foreign policy as a surrender of the country’s sovereignty.”
According to the report: “Meanwhile, the faltering democratic institutions under Duterte has undermined the country’s image abroad, and given President Duterte a free hand to flip-flop on foreign policy.”
“His South China Sea policy flip-flops, for instance, have distanced the Philippines from its old friends and allies. And have weakened the country’s sovereignty by Beijing, as was discussed in previous pieces here,” the report added.
But in an interview with reporters in Quezon City, Salceda said the believes the position of the country in the foreign landscape is rather “balanced.”
“Dati, masyado tayong maka-US (United States). Kontra tayo masyado sa China. Ako kasi, hindi ko masasabi na masyadong pro-China kasi nakikita ko naman, halimbawa, sa mga behavior ng ating mga institutions, na actually balansyado lang tao sa lahat ng pwedeng maging partner ng gobyerno pagdating sa national development,” Salceda told reporters.
(Before, we were too close with the US. We were too anti-China. For me, I cannot say that we’re too pro-China right now because I can see in the behavior of our institutions that we are just balanced with everyone who we can be partners in terms of national development.)
“The President has shown a steady commitment to completing his ambitious socio-economic agenda for the Filipino people. No misinformed article can stop him from this accomplishment,” Salceda concluded in his aide-memoire.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.