Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is being backed by leading Filipino businessmen on his 10-point socio-economic agenda. This timely endorsement comes while pundits question his ultimatum for corrupt government authorities to “stop it” and his encouragement of citizens to kill criminals.
At the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) for Change business conference in Makati, Metro Manila, on June 22, 2016, business leaders backed the concept of a trickle-down economy benefiting the “poorest of the poor.” They expressed a united resolve to help Duterte’s incoming administration grow the economy.
According to Yahoo! News, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, together with shipping heiress Doris Magsaysay-Ho and AIM founder Washington Sycip, supported Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda.
Duterte’s initiatives vetted and backed by experts, are as follows in a nutshell.
- Continuing current fiscal, monetary and trade policies.
- Progressive tax reform.
- Competitiveness and ease of doing business.
- Spending 5 percent of GDP for infrastructure.
- Increasing agricultural productivity.
- Security of land tenure.
- Human resource development and training.
- Promotion of science, technology and creative arts.
- Social protection including a conditional cash transfer program.
- Responsible parenthood backed by family planning.
Pangilinan said Duterte’s focus on agriculture is a step in the right direction, addressing the poverty of 40 percent of the people in the countryside. The businessman explained why he backed the incoming administration’s fresh approach to fighting poverty.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Duterte discussed government corruption with reporters at the Sarangani province oath-taking of Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao whose candidacy he had backed. Duterte said bribery-prone officials should stop accepting under-the-table money from “clients” and live the simple life of a government worker.
He also blasted the Bureau of Internal Revenue as “an institution known to be corrupt since time immemorial,” and backed his diatribe with the following order.
“Stop it now.”
According to Inquirer, Duterte then turned his sights on the Bureau of Customs. He questioned the agency’s malpractices coming to light, backed by victims’ complaints.
“Customs, you’re just like the B.I.R. On the side, you make money aside from your salaries, which you regard as your allowance. We should not fool each other anymore. Let’s be frank. Change your lifestyle, less expense. Maybe if you (used to) buy a car every other year, make it five years (from now on) and try to be just an ordinary government worker.”
Duterte made these statements to the press in the wake of his recent nationally-televised speech that backed vigilantism. When it came to dealing with criminals who resist arrest or threaten lives, the president-elect encouraged citizens to be proactive.
“If he fights, and he fights to the death, you can kill him… Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun… you have my support.”
According to CNN, Duterte also put up a bounty of some 3 million Philippine pesos, or $65,000, on drug lords, and later upped the amount to five million pesos, or $108,000. He backed his position on the matter, with an explanation.
“I’m not saying that you kill them, but the order is ‘dead or alive’.”
On corrupt officers of the law, Duterte was unforgiving. He issued the following dire warning, backed by expletives in the vernacular.
“[To] all police who have cases and are wanted now, if you are still involved in drugs, I will kill you. Don’t take this as a joke. I’m not making you laugh. Son of a b***h, I will kill you.”
Duterte found three police generals tainted by illegal drug activity. On getting the high-ranking officers to resign, Duterte backed his demand with this rationale.
“Do not wait for me to name you in public because I will only humiliate you.”
While Duterte worked at defeating corruption to make the Philippines a good place for business, the AIM conference attendees backed a comprehensive action plan. Their to-do’s went as follows: reduce corporate and personal income taxes, implement a national I.D. system, streamline business documentation, support farmers and fishermen, improve Internet connection, and expand the transportation network.
AIM founder Sycip spoke of Duterte replicating his past successes. The 94-year-old accountant pointed out how the president-elect’s ideas were backed by his exemplary record of achievement as mayor of Davao 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?”
The business leaders’ recommendations are aligned with Duterte’s vision and backed by his agenda.
[Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images]