MANILA, Aug. 8 — The chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday hailed the country’s thriving business sector despite allegations of human rights violations and the ongoing Marawi crisis.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles especially noted that the Philippines has remained a major investment magnet, as presented by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) during its presentation of the agency’s proposed PHP6.57-billion budget for 2018.
During the hearing, Nograles sought clarification on the government’s programs, particularly on foreign trade and promoting the influx of foreign investments since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez stressed that the challenges posed by the human rights issue and the Marawi crisis did not diminish foreign business confidence as evidenced by the booming trade and economic development of the country.
“The efforts of President Duterte, especially his trips abroad, opened the doors wider for foreign investors to invest in the country’s economy,” Lopez told lawmakers.
The DTI chief said that with China alone, the country’s bilateral trade grew by at least 62 percent.
On the other hand, he pointed out that the President’s trip to Russia yielded an outright Russian purchase of about USD 2.5-million of agricultural products from the Philippines.
“The deal would promote Philippine agricultural products while increasing farmers’ income and create more jobs in the rural areas,” Lopez said.
He likewise revealed that in the various trips abroad with the President, he had “never encountered any complaints” about the stability of the business climate in the Philippines.
In fact, Lopez told the lawmakers that the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao is being regarded by foreign business chambers as a necessary peacekeeping move by the government, including the sustained war against illegal drugs.
The DTI official believed that foreign investors are confident of the efforts of the government to maintain a conducive business climate in the country.
Furthermore, the DTI official cited the independent foreign policy being pushed by the current leadership which allowed the country to become “friend to all and enemy to no one.”
Nograles reacted by saying that the President’s sustained campaign and programs to attain peace, stability and national discipline will ensure the country’s march to meaningful inclusive socio-economic development.
“The president’s unrelenting war against illegal drugs and corruption in public service, among others, will surely help heighten people’s participation in a progressive and clean governance which are among the vital ingredients to achieve real and inclusive development,” Nograles said. (PNA)