Good news!

By Melito Salazar Jr.

My brother-in-law, Ed Santos, a balikbayan, has been visiting his college haunts, like traversing Palawan in the most native of transportation and staying in the most common places and bonding with his La Salle and AIM classmates at the lobby of Makati’s finest hotels.  He tells me that never has he felt so safe travelling in the provinces and proud seeing the pace of development.  In his conversations with his batch mates, he got the inside stories on the business dynamics that overall validated his own gut feel that the Philippine economy was doing well.

I told him that yes, there’s a lot of good news about the Philippines that get obscured when President Duterte opens his mouth.  Let me get back to that later.  For the moment, let me share the good news that flood my email being a columnist.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Callawa Water Pumping Project to be funded by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China was held in Barangay Callawa, Buhangin District of Davao City.  The project consists of a deep–water pumping well, water tower, power-engine room and related equipments as well as a drinking water pipe-network leading into households.  The project is expected to be completed in six months.  The project will greatly ease the scarcity of drinking water in mountainous areas and around 3,000 households will be benefitted.

President Duterte is expected to sign next week the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Delivery Act of 2018 which for one, provides a specific period within which a permit or a license is issued: three days for simple transactions, seven for complex and 20 for highly technical application with an extension of 20 days.  The measure implements a two-strike policy where erring government officials who fail to issue the permit or license within the prescribed periods face suspension for the first offense as well as for the second offense with a criminal liability and penalty of P500,000 up to P2 million for the second offense.

The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) is holding GREEN FINANCING, a forum on financing for business businesses with environmental, social and governance project (Sustainable Finance) on June 20, 2018 at New World Hotel, Makati City from 8-11 a.m.   In our own fora of the MAP Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation where I am president and Ramon Ilusorio is Chairman we have pinpointed the lack of funds for these types of projects and are glad to note that FINEX of which I was president in 2005 is taking up the challenge.

The bidding for the operation and maintenance of Clark International Airport in Pampanga province had eight groups acquiring bid documents- Megawide Construction Corp. together with India’s GMR Infrastructure, Metro Pacific Investment Corp., Filinvest Development Corp., San Miguel Holdings Corp., Manuel Villar’s Prime Asset Venture and Central Luzon Infrastructure Consultancy, Inc. Consortium.  Foreign groups included India’s GVK Airport Developers Ltd, and France’s Groupe ADP, which helped design the long term master plan for the Clark airport.  The bid submission is targeted on July 20, 2018 with awarding seen by Aug. 24 this year.

Regretfully all these get relegated in the back pages or in the Business Section as the front page prominently emblazons the President’s latest outburst – no woman Chief Justice, China will back me up, etc.  More business stories in the front page should paint a better picture of a country progressing quite well.

But one has to admit that certain presidential outbursts are contributory to a more favorable business environment.  His constant harping on corruption is positively affecting the level of service in the bureaucracy with my business friends telling me that rarely does anyone now hint of a bribe.  The increases in salary of police and military are making them toe the line and once it reaches out to the public school teachers, we may witness a positive transformation and higher morale.

Good news is certainly welcome.  But the best news will be when President Duterte tempers his outbursts towards the greatest good for the Philippines.

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