Bad governance is a function of leadership. That’s the lesson from the Philippines. Despite considerable wealth in natural resources and population size, the second-largest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, the economy consistently performed below the levels of its region during the 20th century. Slow growth has been a function of consistent mismanagement and congenital corruption, reflecting weak leadership in a powerful presidential system.
Things have picked up since then, particularly through the services sector and a manufacturing boom in more than 360 Special Economic Zones, with the economy among the top-three regional performers. But politics remains snared between family dynas- ties and the populism represented by President Rodrigo Duterte – one consequence being that nearly one-quarter of 107 million Filipinos live in poverty.
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