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Business

Clever answer from Chiz

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

At the recent Go Negosyo vice presidentiables’ forum held at the Manila Polo Club, Senator Chiz Escudero expressed disappointment with President Aquino for using the 30th commemoration of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution to trivially criticize Senator Bongbong Marcos about the way he dyes his hair, saying the bloodless revolution was not about the Marcoses or the Aquinos, but about the Filipino people.

It was a very clever way to answer a tricky issue that almost always brings about debates and disagreements by people whenever the subject of Marcos and the People Power Revolution crops out. EDSA, according to Chiz, is about the people who became united and stood up for their rights, including the right to choose who will become their leaders.

By his answer, the young senator did not have to take sides, so to speak, and therefore gracefully “circumnavigated” the issue which should sit well with people belonging to the opposite sides of the spectrum. Chiz managed to come across as firm in a manner that was not offensive to either side and instead put the focus on the Filipino people.

The fact of the matter is, the Philippine political scene is actually dominated by a few families. Chiz has been very candid about the issue of political dynasties, coming from a family of politicians himself with his father preceding Chiz as congressman and his mother succeeding him when he ran for the Senate. In one of his earlier sorties in Cebu – a place where political families rule the roost – Chiz was asked why – if he is indeed a supporter of the proposed anti-dynasty bill – was he seeking the help of political families?

The vice presidentiable pointed out that since there is no enabling law yet, he did not see anything wrong with seeking the support of political families. However, the minute the anti-dynasty bill gets passed in Congress and becomes a law, then everyone will just have to abide by the law.

In any case, the vice presidentiables’ forum was a great success with four of the major candidates participating in the forum series – Senators Bongbong Marcos and Sonny Trillanes, and the only rose among the thorns – Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo. Only someone like Joey Concepcion could have successfully pulled off an event like that.

One-on-one with Mayor Duterte

I had the opportunity to engage Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a one-on-one and it is fascinating to really get to see and hear the controversial mayor up close. One thing easily noticeable with the mayor is his disarming candor, but another striking thing about him is his knowledge on a variety of subjects and his out-of-the-box way of thinking – which is probably the reason why more and more Filipino voters are taking second and third looks at the PDP-Laban presidential bet, as seen in the most recent ABS-CBN-commissioned Pulse Asia survey that showed him within striking distance of top ranked Senator Grace Poe, overtaking Vice President Jejomar Binay and Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas.

Aside from his passionate advocacy for federalism that many people are starting to mull over, the Davao City politician has a lot of innovative ideas that even businessmen are beginning to consider, among them the “business islands” concept. According to the mayor, a lot of multinational companies from highly developed countries have made Singapore and Hong Kong as their base of operations, so he does not see why the Philippines shouldn’t become one as well, considering that many of the necessary ingredients are already here in this country.

For one, our strategic location is already an advantage because it makes us an important hub of trade and commerce in the region as it is bounded by three important bodies of water: the South China Sea, the Celebes Sea and the Philippine Sea.  We have land, we have a highly skilled labor force that can speak English very well – and we are a democratic country which should be reassuring to foreign investors.

However, among the reasons why multinationals have not been too eager to open businesses here include the uncertainty of policies with ever-changing rules that have resulted in embarrassing debacles in the international community, with contracts overturned and local government officials issuing local ordinances that run counter to national laws. But if we lease these “business islands” – and remember we have more than 7,000 islands – to foreign investors, they can have relative autonomy and establish their own rules as long as these are in consonance with our laws.

In fact, a believer of Mayor Duterte’s business islands concept even goes as far as to say we can even allow these business islands to develop their own police force, build ports and roads and power plants, construct telecoms facilities for their WiFi and Internet requirements, but the basic conditions would be that Filipinos must be employed; there must be a mix of industries and businesses beneficial to the Philippines; these investors must pay a minimum rent or five percent of their gross  (whichever is higher); the environment must be protected as they conduct their businesses; and ownership of all facilities must revert to the Philippines after 50 years, after which rental will be paid from henceforth.

Aside from the windfall, Filipinos will no longer have to leave the country to look for jobs as supplemental services will provide additional work to locals, plus security will not be a headache because the multinationals themselves will be the ones to protect their billions of investments.

As Mayor Duterte said, the Philippines has the potential to create another Hong Kong or Taiwan or Singapore – and that is something he will work on if he becomes president. 

***

Email: spybits08@gmail.com

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