Duterte asked: What’s your business plan?

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Presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City, captured the imagination and votes of millions of Filipinos but he remains relatively “unknown” in business circles in Metro Manila, causing a degree of anxiety over how the economy will fare under his term.

Already, there are calls among the business elite for details of his business policy, possible form of government and his Cabinet lineup, starting with who will lead the Department of Finance and the National Economic and Development Authority, an analyst said.

Nevertheless, the Philippine Stock Exchange index rallied 2.62 percent to 7,174.88 on Tuesday, May 10, partly as investors cheered the efficiency and credibility of the voting process.

“Duterte is the first President who does not hail from Luzon in about 50 years. That’s almost two generations. So, he’s really an unknown,” said Jose Mari Lacson, BPI Securities deputy head of research.

“Investors are going to be very impatient. He may not like it but answers will need to be provided quicker,” Lacson said. “This is the first thing the President-elect will have to do - to calm and assure investors of that uncertainty.”



Lacson said investors’ concerns ranged from Duterte’s stance on shifting to a federal system to how investments would be allocated.

“We are expecting Mindanao to become the focus of economic investments,” he added.

Business leaders polled by the Inquirer all revealed a similar line of thinking - that Duterte needed to reveal more about his views on how to sustain the country’s economic growth, projected at about 6 percent this year.

“The kind of people he will be appointing will somehow give us a hint of the kind of policies he will be implementing. In doing so, he will bridge the ‘unknown’ for the business sector,” said Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport).

“This will also help assuage the fears of the business sector… People will be anticipating but I think they will give him a honeymoon period,” he added.

Issues that matter to businesses, he noted, included infrastructure, education, small-and medium-sized enterprises, tourism and agriculture.

“We hope Duterte, as soon as he officially takes oath as the country’s President, will give marching orders to his economic advisers to reach out and consult the businessmen,” said George T. Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.



Perry Pe, president of the Management Association of the Philippines, said a Duterte presidency would be positive for the country.

“For his massive supporters and voters, I think they want concrete and immediate action to solve the country’s transportation problems. Air travel and airports, trains and buses and mass transport system, and inter-island vessels and seaports—all of these aside from his promise of bringing down criminality in six months,” Pe said.

Hans Sicat, Philippine Stock Exchange president, pointed to earlier statements made by Duterte on reviewing restrictive constitutional provisions, broadening the tax base and making government “less bureaucratic.”

“These are strong signals,” Sicat said.

Jose Ma. K. Lim, president of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., also hoped that Duterte would focus on Metro Manila’s road congestion issues and aging mass railway systems. Inquirer.net