Duterte vows more jobs outside 'dead' Manila

Mr Duterte says that he will set up economic zones outside Manila in order to create jobs for millions of impoverished Filipinos, many of whom have failed to find a better life in the capital and end up living in slums.
Mr Duterte says that he will set up economic zones outside Manila in order to create jobs for millions of impoverished Filipinos, many of whom have failed to find a better life in the capital and end up living in slums.PHOTO: REUTERS

DAVAO • Incoming Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to spread economic activity beyond the overpopulated capital Manila, calling it a "dead" city overrun by shanty towns.

He said he would create new jobs by setting up economic zones outside Manila to spread the wealth beyond the sprawling metropolis of about 15 million, and that he would not allow any more factories to be built in the capital.

"I have to create more jobs but Manila is already saturated," he told reporters. "If there are any investors coming in, I will tell them I will not allow factories any more in Manila, not only because it is a dead city but also because I have to build a new environment for the people."

Mr Duterte, who won a landslide presidential election victory more than two weeks ago, said while campaigning that one of his top priorities would be improving the lives of about 26 million Filipinos, more than a fourth of the population, who live on US$1.30 (S$1.79) or less a day.

Frustrations over the sharp rich-poor divide that remains despite years of continuous strong economic growth helped to bring Mr Duterte to power, analysts say.

A lack of opportunities around the rest of the Philippines has for decades made Manila a magnet for those seeking a better life, but millions have been forced to live miserable existences in slums.

Mr Duterte expressed dismay at the sight of Manila's polluted canals, surrounded by shanty towns. He said he wanted to create opportunities elsewhere so that people would not have to live in squalid conditions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte vows more jobs outside 'dead' Manila'. Print Edition | Subscribe