SINCE about five decades ago, the Philippine economy has gone on what appears to be an irreversible downward spiral in comparison with our now nine Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) neighbors. As shown in a World Bank report, in 2020, the Philippines ranked No. 6 in per capita income (gross domestic product) at almost $3,000. Vietnam appears to be catching up on us soon, making us No. 7 and just ahead of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. We used to be No. 1.

We have been overtaken by Indonesia, which now has about one-and-a-half times our per capita income; Thailand, a bit more than double; and Malaysia by almost four times; not to mention Singapore, which is way, way up; and Brunei, which is also quite high.

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