MALACAÑANG yesterday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s environmental policies, including the decision to close Boracay to tourists, which partly contributed to lower than expected economic growth in the second quarter of this year.
“We don’t approach policy on purely economic and financial basis. The President of course will exercise the power of the state, known as police powers, to protect also the environment and he has given higher priority to the protection of the environment and he makes no apologies for it,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in his regular press briefing.
Gross domestic product grew 6 percent in the April to June period compared to 6.7 percent in the same period last year and first quarter’s 6.6 percent.
It was partly due to policy decisions made by the Duterte administration that, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, were supposed to support “sustainable and resilient development.”
Pernia cited the closure of Boracay Island from April to October 2018, continued closure of several mining pits, excise tax on non-metallic and metallic minerals, and stricter enforcement of regulations on aquaculture producers at Laguna Lake that resulted in the drop of freshwater fish catch.
“If GDP will further fall because of the desire of the President to protect the environment so be it. We’re investing in the future and not just in the present,” Roque said.
Roque admitted they were “saddened” by the latest economic report but said it was not a cause for concern.
“I don’t think it is alarming because 6 percent is still high. People, do not forget we may not have met the target but 6 percent is very high,” he said.
In the six months to June, the economy grew by 6.3 percent in the first semester, slower than the government target range of 7.0 to 8.0 percent.
“We will do everything to meet them. If we don’t we’ll find out why and we’ll try to achieve the further targets for the rest of the year,” Roque said.