By Corina Oliquino
MANILA — In a November 15 report titled “Duterte health worries, Sri Lanka election,” London-based independent think tank Capital Economics through Senior Asia Economist Gareth Leather claims the Philippines will lure more investors should Vice-president Leni Robredo take over the presidency from Rodrigo Duterte due to health concerns.
Leather noted that “achange in president would probably be welcomed by investors,” citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
“Since Duterte took office, approved foreign investments have been much lower than previous years,” he added, noting Robredo’s “fierce opposition to Duterte’s authoritarian tendencies, including his willingness to undermine political institutions, his attacks on political opponents as well as the controversial war on drugs could lead to more investments” and jobs in the Philippines.
However, Leather clarified that their report does not “automatically suggest” that the Philippines under Duterte “has been a disaster,” citing the president’s “popularity” for legislation such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) which would fund the current administration’s ambitious infrastructure program called the Build, Build, Build and the Rice Tariffication Act, which kept inflation at bay.
In a report by Manila Bulletin, experts had earlier linked alleged human rights violations in the country to state-sponsored killings making foreign investors reluctant to engage business in the Philippines, with Malacañang insisting extra-judicial killings (EJKs, which according to government data resulted in the killing of at least 6,600 people through the administration’s war on drugs) were never an issue with foreign investors.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s health status was in the spotlight last week, saddled by rumors since 2016 that his health is failing and his recent “work from home” arrangement, with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisting the President was just busy with other tasks.
Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.”
In a report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Malacañang on November 7, dismissed Capital Economics’ claim as wishful thinking.
“Unang-una, ‘yun ay wishful thinking, Panelo said in an interview with radio station dzIQ.
“Pinakikialaman na naman nila ‘yung soberentiya at ‘yung tinig ng taumbayan na nag-halal sa kanya overwhelmingly. Masyado silang nakikialam sa pamamalakad ng ating pamahalaan,” he added.
Panelo also defended the country’s economic status, saying the Philippines has “good foreign investments under Duterte.”
“Ang alin, foreign investment? Eh maling-mali siya doon. Definitely, di ba sinasabi nga ng mga economic managers na ang ganda ng investment natin, lalung-lalo na sa foreign,” he said.
“‘Yun ang sinasabi natin kay VP Leni na maging maingat ka sa pag-tanggap ng mga payo sa’yo ng inaakala mo na makakatulong ay baka sa halip na makatulong ay makasira,” Panelo added.
Moreover, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), revealed foreign direct investments a net inflow of US$543 million in July 2019, while long-term equity net inflows totaled US$4.1 billion for the first seven months of 2019.