Department of Finance (DoF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said President Rodrigo Duterte’s trips abroad have raised a total of $33 billion, compared with the P270 million incurred expenses from his foreign travels.
“That is equivalent to spending something like 17 centavos for every P1,000 that he has raised in investments and loans,” Dominguez said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
“For me that is a very significant figure. You know, sometimes when we talk of millions and billions, we forget the relationship, right? This is the relationship of the expenses of the President with regards to the benefits that he has been able to bring home or as the journalists like to say, ‘the bacon that he brought home,’” he explained.
The DoF is presently negotiating with Chinese officials regarding the USD9 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA), as well as commercial loans.
He said the DoF is likewise discussing with the Japanese government in response to the announcement of Prime Minister Abe during his recent visit to the country that Japan has committed another $9 billion more or less in ODA and commercial loans.
In the same briefing, meanwhile, Dominguez said the DoF is working as co-chair of the Mining Industry Coordinating Committee (MICC), with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary-designate Gina Lopez.
“She and I have signed the resolution of the MICC agreeing that we are to set up a technical working group (TWG) to review all her issuances to make sure that these are in line with due process,” Dominguez said, adding that the second meeting of the TWG will be on Friday.
Contrary to speculations that there is a rift between the two Cabinet Secretaries, Dominguez said that he and Lopez are on the same team and that he is not involved with any mining firm at the moment.
“I want to make sure that when she closes the mining, it stays closed. Because if due process is not followed, two possible consequences will happen: the mine will go to court and the court will give them relief and they will open again. And, they will probably file for damages against the government for closing them illegally,” Dominguez explained.
“So I want to avoid those and I want to make sure that Secretary Lopez—Secretary-designate Lopez is on firm ground when she does this. You know, that’s my responsibility as co-chair and as a member of the team. We all belong to the same team of President Duterte,” he added.
PHL as investment attraction
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in the same briefing, said the Palace welcomes the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) findings citing favorable investment conditions in the Philippines.
Abella cited the statement of European Union-Asean Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey that the country is now among the top favorite of European investors in Asean.
Abella added that the country is seen to have a bright future in enhancing European interest “due to the country’s young population, increasingly liberal trade and investment policies and largely untapped market.”
“To deliver its promise to create 1.2M jobs annually, the Duterte administration will attract more foreign investments, increase infrastructure spending, ease the cost of doing business in the Philippines, and continuously develop its human resource,” Abella said.
He said these jobs to be created include those in construction, information and technology/business-process management, tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, agri-processing industry, and retail trade.
On the other hand, Abella cited the findings of the International Monetary Fund mission team regarding the Philippines’ monetary policies, which are supportive of domestic expansion.
The IMF team pointed to the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) as among those that contributed to the strengthening of the country’s monetary transmission and reduction of concentration risks in the banking sector, among others, Abella added.
Meanwhile, Abella said the military will continue its unrelenting pursuit operations to recover the remaining hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.
Abella said President Duterte must be deeply affected by the beheading of German national Juergen Gustav Kantner.
Echoing the statement made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on the incident, Abella said, “It’s a mournful day for all peace-loving and God-fearing citizens of the Philippines.”
Abella meanwhile said that the Palace had no hand in the recent upheavals in the Senate committee positions and pointed out that the stripping of Senate committee chairmanships is a regular development decided solely by the lawmakers.
He said that the Palace recognizes the independence of the different branches of government, adding that the Palace “does not interfere with its affairs.”
Abella said he hopes that the development in the Senate would result in “ better working relationships” between Malacañang and the Senate.