Drug war, Islamists ‘rising’ risks for Philippines
MPresident Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly drug war and armed Islamist rebellion pose “rising” risks to the Philippine economy, though it should continue to grow robustly in the short term, Moody’s Investors Service said.
Duterte is battling militants in the southern city of Marawi, while rights groups have accused him of orchestrating a crime against humanity with police killing more than 3 800 drug suspects in 14 months. “The re-emergence of conflict in the southern Philippines, as well as the Duterte administration’s focus on the eradication of illegal drugs, represents a rising but unlikely risk of a deterioration in economic performance and institutional strength,” the credit ratings agency said. Sound economic and fiscal policies including a focus on infrastructure development balance out political and other risks, it said in a country report released on Friday that affirmed the Philippines’ investment-grade credit rating and stable outlook. But martial law, imposed by Duterte on the southern region of Mindanao to stop the Islamist threat, could be declared elsewhere in the country and upset this balance, it said. “(A) worsening of the Islamist insurgency in Mindanao... could lead to an expansion of martial law, undermine both foreign and domestic business confidence, and disrupt economic activity in other parts of the country,” it said.