Panelo: Economic growth shows human rights issues have no impact on business confidence

Published March 19, 2019, 1:16 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling 

The country enjoys a growing economy and a steady inflow of foreign investments despite the government critics’ propaganda war against the anti-drug campaign, Malacañang asserted Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said such “hard facts and figures” about the economy would dispute allegations that issues on human rights and extrajudicial killings were affecting business confidence in the country.

“There is no direct correlation between human rights and the economy, as some quarters particularly two international lawyers groups would like to point out,” Panelo said.

“While we continue to adhere to the rule of law and uphold international humanitarian law and the protection of human rights, the critics and the detractors of the administration continue to vilify the President and the government, even raising the issue of human rights in connection with the drug war to other issues such as trade, business and the economy,” he said.

Panelo said the local economy was actually “doing well” and even “much better” compared to the growth during the previous administrations.

“The Philippine economy has been growing at least 6 percent under the Duterte administration and, according to our economic managers, the strongest economic growth we have seen since the mid-1970s,” he said.

The country also recorded an unprecedented $20.1 billion in net foreign investments “in the first two full years of the Duterte Administration, when the media propaganda war against the campaign on illegal drugs was virulent,” according to Panelo. The figures were higher compared to $2 billion in 2011 and $3.2 billion in 2012 posted by the first two full years of the Aquino administration.

Panelo also highlighted the “strong investor confidence” in the economy under the “decisive” leadership of the President. He said Duterte’s strong political will has been recognized in pushing for reforms, including the signing of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act.

“The Philippines’ 48-notch jump to 19th place out of 193 countries in the e-Participation Index of the United Nations underscores the Administration’s notable performance to streamline the business registration process in the country,” he said.

Panelo also cited that the government, aware that lack of infrastructure hampers the economy’s competitiveness, has poured more resources to implement the massive infrastructure program in the country.

“The Build-Build-Build Infrastructure Program is now full steam ahead,” he said.

In his first two years in office, he said Duterte allocated 6.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to infrastructure, compared to his predecessors, 1.7 percent during the Ramos administration, 1.8 percent under Estrada, 1.6 percent under Arroyo, 3.0 percent under Aquino.

“These are hard facts and figures, which cannot be disputed and which should be relayed by those in capable positions to the public, including those in the international community. They are more reliable than some anecdotes that are politically colored by some groups or interests,” he said.

A regional group of lawyers earlier expressed concern that foreign investors may be hesitant to invest in the country amid the issue off on human rights and EJKs.

Christopher Leong, president of LAWASIA, reportedly said while the government must curb crimes, it must also take into consideration the short-term and long-term effects of how authorities solve criminality.

Panelo, however, brushed aside the group of lawyers’ claim about the impact of human rights issue on foreign investments.

“It’s farther from the truth as shown by the economic growth stated above,” he said.

He said foreign investments were actually anchored on macro economic fundamentals, no or minimal restriction on foreign equity on investment areas and activities, ease of doing business, good infrastructure, non-restrictive labor laws, and consistent policy milieu.