COVER STORY

Here’s what lies ahead for the Philippines in 2020

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — 2019 was quite a year.

We saw President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies further strengthen their grip on the country, while the opposition seemed to have crumbled.

The economy faced highs and lows, and Philippine business had to deal with deaths of taipans and new taxes.

The health sector had to deal with the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases, while agriculture hobbled through the year under the strain of low food supply, high prices of farm inputs, and government policies that ended up hurting the already struggling rice farmers.

But not all was bleak. The year saw Filipino athletes cementing dynasties and making history from local leagues to international competitions.

So what lies ahead for us in 2020?

In politics, analysts said cracks would begin to appear in the administration-aligned supermajority that controls Congress as the country approaches closer to the 2022 presidential elections.

“It’s easy to see kasi [because] within the supermajority, there have already been factions. So the one thing that’s holding them together is the Duterte presidency. Once there are already feelers as to who will be running in the 2022 elections, there will definitely be hiccups,” said political science professor Jean Franco.

Ruben Carlo Asuncion, chief economist at the Union Bank of the Philippines, said the economy would likely enjoy smoother seas in 2020 with benign price increases minus the threat of a reenacted budget.

Other market watchers have also voiced confidence that economic activity will become briskier in 2020, supporting above-6 percent expansion.

Globally, the key risk remains to be the prolonged trade war between the United States and China, which Asuncion said may keep foreign investors from making any big bets until the dust settles.

Here are some other things to watch out for next year:

Any time next year

Vice President Leni Robredo still has to release her report on the drug war from her short stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.

TIMELINE: VP Robredo's short stint as anti-drug body co-chair

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo might decide on whether or not to enforce the ban against Philippine officials involved in the “unlawful detention” of Senator Leila de Lima.

The International Criminal Court is eyeing to conclude its preliminary examination on the country’s war on drugs to see if there is a need for an investigation.

Peace negotiations between the Philippine government and communist rebels may restart.

PhilHealth members will have access to more benefits, but will come with a higher price tag. An additional 3 percent in automatic salary deductions would be imposed on contributors with a monthly salary of ₱10,000 to ₱60,000. Thereafter, the membership rates will annually increase by 0.5 percent until 2025.

The Department of Health is also ringing in the new year with a fresh round of vaccination drive in response to the vaccine-derived polio outbreak in the Philippines in 2019.

First quarter of the year

New ₱5 and ₱20 coins will begin circulation.

January

First week of January

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the ₱4.1-trillion national budget within this week, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said. This would do away with fears of another reenacted budget for a prolonged span of time and would support the government's plan to pour more funds into infrastructure projects. In turn, analysts expect the ‪6.5-7.5‬ percent growth goal doable for 2020.

‪January 1‬

The third and final tranche of excise tax increases on fuel takes effect. This will cumulatively raise duties to ₱10 per liter of gasoline, ₱6 per liter for diesel, ₱5 per liter of kerosene, and ₱3 per kilogram of LPG used for cooking. The tax is bigger for auto LPG at ₱6 per kilogram.

A pack of cigarettes will now be taxed ₱45 from ₱30 previously. This will be followed by an annual ₱5 increase until the cigarette pack sells for ₱60 by 2023. Meanwhile, a new tariff worth ₱10 every 10 milliliters of vaping liquid used for e-cigarettes will also kick in, as well as for heated tobacco products.

Revenue collections from excise taxes will help fund the Universal Healthcare Program of the country which will be rolled out in 2020. Initially, the government needs about P257 billion to implement a new health care system.

Martial law in Mindanao is finally lifted after two years.

‪January 4‬

‪Until March 31, LRT-1 passengers traveling northbound are advised to alight at the Monumento and Balintawak stations, as the train won’t have a direct trip to Roosevelt.‬

Commuters heading to Roosevelt station may take the Baclaran-to-Balintawak circuit, where a special shuttle train will pick passengers up every ten minutes. The same train will also accommodate passengers going southbound to Balintawak.

‪January 7‬

The ceasefire between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines ends.

‪January 20‬

Congress resumes session after a four-week break for the holidays. Among the measures that the legislature will tackle are the bills that seek to create the departments for overseas Filipino workers and disaster resilience. It is also expected to debate on the proposal to amend the Constitution.

February

‪February 6‬

The Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will hold its first meeting, with Governor Benjamin Diokno signalling a looming 50-basis point cut in interest rates for 2020. ING Bank senior economist Nicholas Antonio Mapa projects that the first reduction will be fired off here as a follow-through to similar cuts in 2019.

March

‪March 13‬

Congress adjourns for a three-week summer break.

‪March 20‬

The Philippines in March will roll the red carpet for the 2020 ASEAN Para Games — a biennial sports meet for athletes with physical disabilities.

The country is still seen as a strong contender for the regional contest, as local para athletes ruled the wheelchair basketball, athletics, and swimming tournaments in the 2017 edition of the games.

‪March 23‬

The extended pilot test of motorcycle taxis ends. They would no longer be able to operate, unless the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board decides to extend the pilot test again.

‪March 30‬

The legislative franchise of ABS-CBN expires, if it would not be renewed by Congress or if Duterte decides to veto it.

READ: Duterte tells ABS-CBN execs to sell company

The TV network, among the largest in the country, had 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular employees and 3,325 talents at the end of 2018, according to its report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Second quarter the year

Dito Telecommunity Corporation is expected to begin commercial operations.

May

The Philippine Statistics Authority will roll out its census of population and housing.

‪May 4‬

Congress returns from its three-week break.

‪May 11‬

Palawan will vote in a plebiscite whether they would agree to split the province into three — Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan del Sur.

June

‪June 5‬

Congress adjourns sine die.

‪June 15‬

The United Nations Human Rights Council begins its 44th Regular Session, where UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is expected to present the results of the "comprehensive" review of the Philippines’ human rights situation.

‪June 30‬

Deadline for banks to use uniform quick response (QR) code formats for e-payments.

Old jeepneys which do not pass the road worthiness test and fail to file a petition for consolidation on or before this date and “express their petition to modernize” will no longer be allowed to ply roads.

July

Public registration for the national ID system starts.

‪July 24‬

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan begins. Philippine athletes will take the global stage again after their success in the Southeast Asian Games.

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo were the first two athletes to qualify for the summer games.

How much does it cost to win an Olympic medal?

‪July 26‬

Congress resumes session after sine die adjournment. President Duterte will deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address.

October

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is expected to step down from his post and give way to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, in keeping with a term-sharing agreement brokered by Duterte.

Some lawmakers have called on Cayetano to stay as the chamber’s leader, but political analysts said this may lead to a fracturing of the supermajority in the lower house.

“If Cayetano basically resists the idea of transferring power, transferring leadership, I think magkakaroon ka ng problema sa [you will have a problem in the] coalition which will require President Duterte to intervene. If he doesn’t intervene, then the next year, 2022 elections, our politics will be dominated by that intervening conflict within the House,” said political science professor Herman Kraft.

November

November 7

The 11th Asian Swimming Championships begins. This will be the first time the country is hosting the regional swim meet, which will be held at the aquatic facilities in New Clark City.