According to the leaders of various business chambers, local businessmen are generally satisfied with President Duterte’s performance in his first year in office.
“There are detractors, but you can never say everything is perfect. There are shortcomings but overall the confidence of businessmen is there. It’s a good start. It’s a good foundation for the economy,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon said.
For Barcelon, the important thing for the country now is that there is progress as reflected in the various investment pledges being reported by various investment promotion agencies.
“The bottomline here is there is change. Something is happening and all of these are helping the economy,” Barcelon said.
Barcelon in particular lauded Duterte’s vicious war against drugs and his foreign policy, which he described as a “game changer.”
“Basically, that war on drugs is dealing with peace and order. We all know that this drugs issue brings a lot of these lawlessness so in a way, that is good. Even though there are a lot of background noises, the important thing is people feel safer now,” he said.
Duterte’s foreign visits, he said, have resulted in significant investment pledges and official development assistance from countries like China and Japan, which are all very positive for the economy moving forward.
“In terms of his leadership, across the ASEAN countries everybody looks up to him now. Although he had said something in the past which was not that good for the international scene, apparently the ASEAN countries still look up to him,” Barcelon said.
Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto, for his part, said his group composed of some of the top corporations in the country are grateful to the government’s economic team for engaging and encouraging public-private dialogue and consultations.
“We reiterate our call for government to support the private sector-led Integrity Initiative by issuing an executive order that will provide a framework for more cooperation in addressing corruption on both the public and private spheres,” Perfecto said.
The Chinese envoy in Manila gave Duterte a “very good” mark, citing his pursuit of an “independent” foreign policy that he claimed benefited the Philippines.
“Well, this is my personal experience because ever since Duterte took office, he has been very successful in advancing the interests of the Philippines in the regional and international context,” Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said.
“So my comment is very good, very positive. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate him on the success of his independent foreign policy,” he added.