As the elections draw nearer, the business community is on edge mainly because of the pronouncements of presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte that he will abolish Congress and establish a revolutionary government, threats that business leaders fear will drive away investors.
Makati Business Club (MBC) Chairman Ramon del Rosario said Duterte’s plan of putting up a revolutionary government and killing criminals shows his lack of respect for the rule of law.
“There is lack of respect for the rule of law, which is the foundation upon which confidence is built. And when confidence is built, investments will come that will create jobs, which is the way to inclusive growth. Without it, we cannot move forward,” del Rosario noted at the forum of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) and ING Bank.
“We have to figure out what kind of leader we want,” he said.
Henry Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), said if the rule of law is set aside, investors “will delay their expansion plans, and [new players]may not want to come here.”
Schumacher and del Rosario said the next administration should appoint “credible, responsible and competent” Cabinet members who will support and propel the country’s economic growth, work to increase foreign direct investments (FDIs) and improve the agriculture sector.
The Philippines has been a “laggard” in FDIs, recording only $6.2 billion in 2014, compared to the $25.9 billion, $10.6 billion, $12.7 billion, and $67 billion of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, respectively, in the same year.
Malacañang also slammed Duterte’s plan of forming a revolutionary government, saying such measure, besides being a violation of the Constitution, will spawn chaos.
The Palace called Duterte, the mayor of Davao City, a “modern-day tyrant.”
“A revolutionary government may only be possible when the existing constitutional framework no longer operates. This is what happened in the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told The Manila Times.
“Today, we have a strong and vibrant democracy, thanks to our people’s solidarity and commitment to freedom,” he said.
Last week, Duterte said he plans to form a revolutionary government because the 1987 Charter could no longer address the country’s problems.
The mayor is a staunch proponent of federalism and has espoused this even before he joined the presidential race.
Duterte claimed that once he gets the full backing of the people, the military and the police organizations will have no other choice but to “follow.”
“I will revolt from the inside,” he warned.
But Coloma and renowned political analyst Ramon Casiple warned that such plan may have dire consequences and will likely lead to “instability.”
“We trust that the Filipino people will reject the resurgence of any modern-day tyrant who trivializes the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law,” the Malacanang official said of Duterte.
Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political Reforms, explained that the declaration of a “revolutionary government” under the scenario at present would be “unconstitutional.”
Earlier, Coloma urged the people to “think seriously and be concerned” with Duterte’s pronouncements.
Administration presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd also warned voters not to gamble their future by electing Duterte.
Roxas made the warning after Duterte admitted receiving two lots and two sports utility vehicles from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of God.
“Let us not gamble on someone who doesn’t even have a plan on how he will be able to execute his platforms for the country. Our rivals are hiding wealth this early, and cannot even answer the source of such wealth. Dirty mouth, dirty hands. I appeal to you: Let’s not gamble on uncertainty,” he said, alluding to Duterte’s bank accounts that the mayor initially denied but later admitted that such accounts exist.
Roxas pointed out that the Anti-Corrupt and Graft Practices Act bans government officials from requesting or receiving gifts.
“We are deciding on an impactful issue. Our future, the future of our children is at stake. Every candidate will resort to sweet talk, but the voters can always depend on our unblemished character. You know me for the last 20 years and my reputation is untainted. Leni, on the other hand, has always been sincere,” he said, referring to his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
Roxas scored Duterte, a lawyer, for skirting the law.
“Why is it so hard to know the truth about him? It’s simple. He lied and he does not want the public prying into his wealth. The public trust is very important here. The problem with Mayor Duterte is that he would only follow the law if it is convenient for him. Otherwise, he will violate the law and kill people,” he said.