Forum to Present ‘Dutertenomics’

At midday today, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte—best known for his brutal war on drugs—is set to give a briefing on “Dutertenomics,” his name for big-ticket infrastructure spending that aims to boost growth and reduce poverty.

In Phnom Penh for the World Economic Forum on Asean, Mr. Duterte is also scheduled for a panel discussion with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. The discussion will mark Asean’s 50th anniversary, according to organizers. Nearly 30 other sessions will be held as part of the forum today.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte waves as he arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport for the World Economic Forum on Asean, on Wednesday. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s lead analyst for Asean, Miguel Chanco, said economics did not appear to be Mr. Duterte’s primary interest, but the Philippines “desperately needs” the large-scale infrastructure development he has
promised.

“What the plan lacks, however, are details on how the government plans to fund these projects—the government isn’t exactly awash with cash,” Mr. Chanco said.

Arup Raha, group chief economist at CIMB, a Malaysia-based bank, said Mr. Duterte was commendably continuing the policies of his predecessor. The plan would need to rely on foreign money due to the Philippines’ low savings rate, he said.

Mr. Duterte’s drug war has resulted in more than 7,000 deaths, according to Human Rights Watch. Philippine authorities have rejected the
reports.

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