MANILA, Philippines -- I don’t care.
This was President Rodrigo Duterte’s reaction to credit rater Standard & Poor’s assessment that predictability in policymaking – one of the considerations in making investment decisions – diminished under his administration.
S&P, a US-based financial services firm that rates the abilities of companies and governments to pay their obligations, affirmed on Wednesday the Philippines’ long-term credit rating of ‘BBB’ and short-term credit rating of ‘A-2,’ with a stable outlook.
Standard and Poor's is accredited as a rater by the US Securities and Exchange Commission but is not a government agency.
While the rating is a notch above investment grade, the credit watchdog said the stability and predictability of policymaking in the country has “diminished somewhat” in light of Duterte’s policy pronouncements on foreign policy and national security.
Duterte shrugged off the assessment, saying the Philippines is formulating "a new foreign policy."
"Go away. We'll start on our own. I can go to China, Russia. They are waiting for me," the president told police officers in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday.
"Wala akong pakialam sa inyo (I don’t care about you)," he added.
Cabinet members also disputed S&P’s assessment but were more diplomatic about it.
"I think the policymaking has not changed," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
"We have investment protection, that will give peace of mind to our investors. Our FTA (free trade agreements), they are all being honored," he added.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the S&P assessment “gives the government greater resolve to make the economy growth robust, sustainable and inclusive.”
"The president’s commitment in the anti-illegal drug campaign and criminality will enhance the country’s image to attract more foreign investments. Peace and order is a must for investors to invest more in the country," Andanar said.
"As we all know, consumer optimism soared at the start of this presidency."
On Tuesday, members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the war on drugs is good for business
despite a rise in deaths attributed to the government's drive against narcotics.
"Many of us believe in the same thing, these are allegations,” PCCI president George Barcelon said. “We would not want to jump to conclusion on this issue."
Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Federation Inc., also disputed reports that foreign investors have become wary of coming into the country because of the killings.
"They don’t care if 50 percent of Filipinos kill each other so long as they are not affected," he said.