Lifestyle Business

What future for the Philippine economy under non-traditional President Duterte?

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - The Philippine Star

What is the future of the Philippine economy in the coming six years under the country’s non-traditional President Rody R. Duterte? There are high hopes for more decisive reforms in terms of anti-crime, systemic anti-corruption efforts and more vigorous action on socio-economic reforms like lower taxes for businesses and individuals as well as the much-awaited promise of massive infrastructure spending.

On the other hand, there has been a series of critical international news articles and commentaries, mainly from the west questioning human rights concerns and alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte government’s ongoing draconian war on illegal drugs. These reports have led to some concerns and fluctuations among foreign financial markets.

We asked some business leaders for their non-political assessments and forecasts.

Joey Concepcion, chairman of RFM Corporation, was appointed the Presidential Consultant for Entrepreneurship, chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council and the founding trustee of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship which spearheads his “Go Negosyo” advocacy. During the Sept, 20 launch of his book 50 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City, he replied to my questions on our economic future under Duterte: “Many business people are bullish about Philippine economic growth and development, because President Rody Duterte is serious about genuine reforms and he is an action-oriented leader. I’ve had the privilege to recently talk to him for two hours — our scheduled time was only for 30 minutes — to tell him about the business community’s concerns, and he is supportive of the needs of business so that we can continue to create more jobs and sustain economic growth.”

Concepcion added: “I have some good news. I have explained to President Duterte and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) leaders the proposal of many business people to achieve a win-win situation on the issue of endo or contractualization. Business people are willing to increase costs by making sure their service providers give their employees security of tenure (meaning no more endo), all the legal benefits due them every month, and retirement pay. This can be done through R-18, which is already an existing law.”









What about Western media criticism of President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects? Concepcion replied: “Not all foreigners disagree with President Duterte. Have you read the Facebook letter of American John Parsons who has lived in the Philippines for over 30 years? Have you seen the TV series Narcos on Netflix (about) how drug lord Pablo Escobar controlled the country of Colombia and how he was stopped? I think the situation with these alleged extra-judicial killings is becoming similar to Colombia then, when the drug pushers and drug lords started killing each other.”

At the recent Sept. 22 Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) awards rites by the Metrobank Foundation, Federal Land chairman and Lexus Manila, Inc. chairman Alfred V. Ty of Metrobank Group gave the STAR an exclusive interview. Ty said: “The fundamentals of our Philippine economy are strong, we are very optimistic about the future, especially with the coming rollout of the government’s many infrastructure development projects which will help unleash a lot of growth and a lot of suppressed demand.”

What about Philippine realty prospects? Alfred Ty said: “Real estate developers, not only us at Federal Land, are excited about Philippine economic growth and with more modern designs that we’re using. By 2017, we will be opening the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City as our contribution to the expected rapid growth in Philippine tourism.” Grand Hyatt Manila will be housed in the top 25 floors of the soon-to-be-iconic Metrobank Financial Center, the tallest building in the Philippines at 318 meters. Business leader George S. K. Ty’s new showcase project features 461 luxurious guestrooms, including 52 grand suites.

What about media reports claiming that President Duterte’s non-traditional statements have caused the Philippine stock market prices to go down recently? Alfred Ty said he disagrees that it’s attributable to the President, adding that those stock movements might be due to news about the US increasing interest rates and other factors.

On the correction in Philippine stock prices and reported exit of some foreign “hot money” funds, a top industrialist told me: “To start with, our Philippine stocks have the highest P/E ratio in this region, so a correction of some sorts is but natural and to be expected, so for some international journalists to just attribute it to the president’s non-traditional public statements is not only unfair but also quite inaccurate.”

Tennyson Chen, CEO of Bounty Fresh chicken group which has P27 billion in annual sales and own 1,400 Chooks-To-Go chicken retail outlets, said in an exclusive interview: “A lot of business people support President Duterte in his bold anti-drugs and anti-crime efforts. Even if some foreign countries disagree with or criticize President Duterte, I urge our leader to stay the course, because in the end it’s our Philippine laws that will prevail. What he’s doing is not easy, (so) we should help. Why should our leader listen to the other countries? Our President has to govern according to our laws and according to our conditions.”

Johnlu Koa, founder of the 60-outlet French Baker bakery chain and the 70-outlet Chatime bubble milk tea chain (Philippine franchise of a top Taiwanese brand), said: “What is happening in Philippine stock prices in recent days is only a hiccup or a correction, some investors are taking the opportunity to take profits from our high prices. Whatever happens in the global economic situation, we entrepreneurs should never lose hope in the positive future of the Philippines due to our many positive factors and basic conditions, the solid economic fundamentals. We bullish local investors should serve as the best examples to our fellow entrepreneurs and to foreign investors on investing in the expanding Philippine economy, this is better than telling or asking people what to do. Since Sept. 28 is celebrated as the birthday of the great teacher and philosopher Confucius, I would suggest to our President Duterte to study his teachings on good governance of the state; he is revered as the Sage of East Asia and his words of wisdom are timeless.”

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Unknown to most people, showbiz superstar Kris Aquino is also a low-key but energetic and hardworking entrepreneur. She is now reportedly transitioning from her former home station of ABS-CBN 2 to GMA-7 under the Eat Bulaga team led by billionaire Tony Tuviera and has opened her new successful venture called Nacho Bimby at the popular SM North EDSA in Quezon City, and soon another outlet at Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City. Her nephew Joggy Cruz is helping manage the enterprising celebrity’s non-showbiz businesses.

Kris is one of the most financially astute savers and investors among the Philippines’ top showbiz celebrities along with Sharon Cuneta Pangilinan, Mother Lily Y. Monteverde, Susan Roces, Amalia Fuentes, Congresswoman Vilma Santos Recto, Anne Curtis and Richard Yap.

Some entrepreneurs told me that they recently saw Robinsons retail chain boss Robina Gokongwei-Pe and her younger sister Faith Gokongwei-Lim visit SM North EDSA The Block to inspect a proposed outlet for their coffeeshop venture, Costa Coffee. It is not true that the families of business competitors Henry Sy, Sr. of SM and John Gokongwei, Jr. of Robinsons — respectively No. 1 and No. 2 in Forbes magazine Philippines’ wealthiest list — do not see eye to eye. They are friends and friendly competitors.

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Thanks for your feedback! Email [email protected] or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and my new blog wilsonleeflores.com.

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