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Philippine Economy Surges, But Drug War Continues

The economy is on track to meet full-year target growth. The economy is on track to meet full-year target growth.

The Philippine economy grew by 6.5% in the three months to June, likely one of the fastest in Asia, the government said Thursday, defying concerns over President Rodrigo Duterte’s unconventional leadership.

With solid fundamentals laid by predecessor Benigno Aquino, Duterte has now presided over an economy growing at an average 6.6% clip in the past year, despite rule-of-law concerns over his drug war that has left thousands dead, AFP reported.

“I am pleased to inform you that we remain as one of the best-performing economies in Asia,” economic planning secretary, Ernesto Pernia, said in a speech to announce gross domestic product growth for the second quarter. “We are well on track to meeting our full-year target growth of 6.5-7.5%,” he said, with the economy having expanded by 6.4% in the first half.

Industry was the main driver for April-June 2017, backed by expansion in manufacturing and mining, while the farm sector’s continued recovery from a dry spell also helped offset the slower growth in the vast services sector, Pernia said.

Among Asia’s major economies, the 6.5% second quarter growth was below only China’s 6.9% jump for the quarter, Pernia said. Malaysia and Thailand, which have yet to release economic growth data for the period, were unlikely to announce higher figures than the Philippines, he added.

Duterte has largely left the running of the economy to experienced aides while focusing his efforts on directing a deadly anti-narcotics campaign that rights groups have warned could amount to a crime against humanity.

The research arm of Japan’s Nomura financial group said the second quarter data meant the Philippines was on course for 6.7% growth this year. Buoyant sentiment, sustained remittances by Filipinos working abroad, low inflation and falling unemployment numbers were key drivers, it said in a statement.

“We continue to expect government spending to accelerate given the administration’s strong push to implement public sector infrastructure projects and avoid past problems of underspending,” it added.

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