PH still best place to live in despite international, local criticisms

THIS is a news that critics of the Duterte government, both here and abroad including  those from the European Union, the United States  and the Amnesty International won’t like to hear amid their unrelenting effort to portray the country as a Wild Wild West:  a Forbes’ article saying that the Philippines is the 24th best place to live and work.

The good news from Forbes which yearly comes up with the world’s and Asia’s richest persons, was welcomed by PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde who was smiling while reading the new survey ranking the Philippines as the 24th best place to live and work following the US which ranked as 23rd and ahead of China which was ranked as 26th.

“This only shows that the continuing peace and order campaign of the government significantly contributed in creating a secure environment where our fellowmen and even foreign tourists feel safe to work, live and do business in our country,” he told a press briefing yesterday at Camp Crame.

According to the Department of Tourism, from January to May of this year, a total of 3,489,270 tourists visited the Philippines, marking a 9.76 percent increase from last year’s figure.

“All these surveys and data indicate a positive outlook of our peace and order situation and an affirmation of our accomplishments in the campaign against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption,” the PNP chief underscored.

Add to that the latest Social Weather Stations survey which showed that some 80 percent of adult Filipinos are satisfied with the performance of President Duterte. The former Davao City mayor’s +68 percent rating is also his new personal record-high, surpassing hs previous record of +66 in March 2019 and June 2017.

I googled the July 6 Forbes Magazine article written by Panos Mourdoukoutas, a professor and chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post in New York and at the same time a professor at the Columbia University and here is how it goes.

According to the Forbes’ article, “Philippines has been ranked 24th best place to live and work, just behind the US, which ranked 23rd, and ahead of China, which ranked 26th.

“That’s according to the 2019 HSBC Expat’s annual survey, which is based on responses from more than 18,000 expats across 163 markets on three metrics: living, career opportunity, and family life,” the article said.

Mourdoukoutas said that “The Philippines jumped up the rankings from 26th place last year. That may come as a surprise to some for a couple of reasons. One of them is that the Philippines has a reputation for sending its own people overseas in droves rather than attracting foreigners who want to live and work there.”

“The other reason is that the country is mired in violence, which has taken a huge human toll. Apparently, that isn’t what foreign expats are concerned about. They find it easy to relocate to a country of friendly people and a reasonable cost of living. “With its tropical climate and steadily growing economy, the Philippines is quickly becoming one of the most popular expat destinations in Southeast Asia,” he added.

The article added that: “Indeed, the Philippines economy has been booming in recent years. The Philippines’ per-capita GDP was last recorded at an all-time high of 3,063 U.S. dollars in 2018, according to Tradingeconomics.com. And it’s expected to reach $3,277 by 2020. That’s well above the average of $1,653.98 for the period 1960-2018.”

Filipinos are doing better in recent years when per-capita GDP is adjusted by purchasing power parity (PPP). That measure, too, reached a record 7,599.19 U.S. dollars in 2018, well above the average of $4969.71 for the period 1990-2018, Mourdoukoutas said.

“Meanwhile, a recent McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study places the Philippines among the few emerging market economies that are well-prepared to achieve sustained growth over the next decade. That’s thanks to a rise in gross fixed-capital formation (investment),” he added.

“Still, the Philippines’ per-capita GDP is equivalent to 23% of the world’s average, which makes Filipinos poor. Meanwhile, the results of the expats survey should be interpreted with extreme caution,” he said.

“People surveyed are usually more affluent and better educated than the average immigrant, and they are on short assignments. This means that an overseas assignment may be seen as an “adventure.” And the Philippines is a good place for that, better than China, as other surveys confirm,” Mourdoukoutas added. That’s a foreigner speaking.