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Opinion
The Editors

The Philippines Can’t Afford to Go Back to the Past

Long-term prosperity requires that the country’s next leader provide a bold vision, not nostalgia.

Looking backward.

Looking backward.

Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg

In 2016, Filipino voters picked a president who will be remembered for his crass pronouncements and a brutal war on drugs. On Monday, if polls are correct, they are poised to elect the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The return of the Marcos clan to the Malacañang Palace may appeal to Filipinos nostalgic for the era of one-family rule. But it doesn’t bode well for the country’s future.

Before the pandemic, the Philippines was one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, managing to trend higher despite a narrow manufacturing base and messy politics, and to do so without treacherous borrowing. For all of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bombast, his administration did push through some important reforms. These included reducing corporate taxes, introducing incentives for tech investments, and passing legislation allowing full foreign ownership of sectors such as telecoms and airlines.