After Initial Doubts, Bizmen Warm Up to Duterte’s Economic Agenda

After Initial Doubts, Bizmen Warm Up to Duterte’s Economic Agenda

- in Economy, Opinion
President-elect Rody Duterte has given his economic team free reign in dealing with the macro-economic problems of the country, while he focuses on the quality of life issues that affect ordinary Filipinos.

In response to the recent moves by the in-coming President  and his economic team, many prominent businessmen are now voicing their optimism in the new administration. This is following the earlier apprehensions of many in the business sector, particularly those who are based in the capital and have little or no experience in dealing with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte during his time as mayor of Davao City.

“The business sector will definitely work with the new government and its 10-point agenda. There’s a positive energy in working with the incoming administration,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, during the “Aim for Change” forum of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Also at the same forum, shipping magnate Doris Magsasay-Ho expresed confidence in Duterte’s leadership when she said that “in Davao, his focus is to take away the pain points of everyone. So the greatest rallying point is to have very clear strategic intent. How do we build the ecosystems and the clusters that are needed to be able to roll out very competitive goods and services, not just for our consumption but to offer to the world?”

This was echoed by the venerable Washington Sycip, founder of the SGV accounting firm, when he talked about Duterte and what he has done for his city. “What he has done for Davao is wonderful in terms of integrity and policies. It’s encouraging to hear him talk about that. If he can do to the country what he has done for Davao, no one should worry. If he can do it there, why not the entire nation?”

For his part, while he was of hundreds of kilometers away (and a day removed) from the AIM event, Duterte assured the business community of his support in continuing the gains of the Philippine economy.

In his remarks during the closing ceremonies of Sulong Pilipinas, the two-day business forum/dialogue/consultation/workshop held in Davao City last June 20 and 21, he talked about his economic agenda for the next six years.

While freely admitting that “on the many occasions that (he) was invited, the unanimous opinion (among businessmen) was that (he) did not give any economic program,” he reminded the audience that, as a lawyer he “never made any pretensions of being an economist.”

Jokingly he gave a brief background of his legal career by saying that, “I am a lawyer and I chose criminal law as my field of practice. I became a trial prosecutor for about nine years. Now in between and after those years, I was also teaching criminal law, criminal evidence, criminal procedures, and killing criminals.”

But amidst the self-deprecating humor and casual, off-the-cuff banter – qualities not seen in previous Presidents, Duterte was able to project the calm confidence of a leader that knows exactly what needs to be done and is determined come hell or high-water to do it.

After being presented with the 10-point wish-list of the businessmen who attended the gathering, Duterte’s reaction was simply to say that it was “doable” and it was only a matter of “doing it.”

And the doing, he says will be left to the people he has chosen for his cabinet. People whom he trusts, not only for the long years of friendship and shared experiences, but more importantly for the knowledge and expertise they bring to the table.

Throughout his speech, there was none of the well-prepared economic expertise of Macapagal-Arroyo, nor the high-sounding rhetoric of Aquino. In the Duterte administration, that kind of talk would be left to his economic managers.

As far as the man himself was concerned his audience are the regular Filipinos, those whose concerns are less about the stock market and macro economics than the basic necessities of life’s everyday struggles.

“I hold it as an article of faith, having the experience in Davao, that there can be no progress, no development of the local government and the community unless there is law and order.”

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