Business cites Duterte for urging Congress to pass remaining economic bills

Local and foreign business leaders cited President Duterte's continued push for the passage of the remaining economic bills in Congress during his last state of the nation address.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, said that although the presidents’ last SONA lacked flow and was too long, 2.45 hours, they mostly agreed with his final report to the nation.

He particularly cited the President for urging Congress to work on the passage of the remaining economic bills in Congress.

From the foreign business community, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines welcomed the inclusion of priority legislation of Philippine business groups and the Joint Foreign Chambers in the President’s final State of the Nation Address and statements of Congressional leaders at the opening of the Third Regular Session of the 18th Congress.

Among the bills advocated by the president in his SONA were Amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Amendments to the Public Service Act, Amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Department of Disaster Resilience.

Aside from these bills, the Joint Foreign Chambers have pushed for the passage of a total of 17 legislative measures.

“With one year left in the current Congress, we believe the 17 measures are achievable reforms that will generate substantial impact in achieving our shared vision of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness. These reforms will also support economic recovery and higher GDP growth in 2022 and beyond in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter stated.

“We are hopeful that all the bills will progress. Most have reached advanced stages in either the House or Senate and only need limited action towards final approval,” said John Forbes, AmCham Legislative Committee co-chairperson.

Meantime, Ortiz-Lus also cited the improvement in criminalities where people now feel safer because of the Duterte’s platform against illegal drugs and street crimes. He also cited improvement on how the government is managing the COVID-19 crisis.

Ortiz-Luis, however, said that the President did not tackle traffic that is getting worse despite the fact that students are doing online classes and workers are on work from home arrangement. “Traffic is one of his campaign promises,” he said.

The exporters’ group also would have liked to hear the President’s appreciation of the works of the Anti Red Tape Authority, which has been doing great in easing doing business with government.

“He should have recognized ARTA because they are doing great job,” he said. He also cited the Presidents’ recognition of the private sector’s help during this COVID-19 crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress on July 26, 2021. (Malacañang)

Francis Chua, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and founder of International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said

the infra projects are most impressive under this administration.

“But the ease of doing business is still a challenge up to now. Our credit rating has been good but suffer due to prolong pandemic,” he added.

“The key legislations are most welcome. It would help restore our economy,” he added.

Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) president. Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong said the President’s last SONA was “balanced in being optimistic yet also realistic and humble” as Duterte called on the people to be hopeful and to unite for progress amidst a global pandemic crisis.

Duterte cited his administration's solid accomplishments like the visionary Build,Build, Build new infrastructure projects, the prudent fiscal & monetary policies which grew the economy before the pandemic, his socio-economic reforms, his peace and order achievements which made lives of ordinary people safer, his upholding an independent foreign policy of befriending all the world's big powers.

He also expressed his honest frustrations with what he rightly described as "endemic corruption" which he recounted how he was fighting it. He also acknowledged the huge challenges of the continuing global pandemic, but expressed hopes that the Filipino nation can overcome.

In one part of his 2.45 long SONA, Duterte cited the ethnic Chinese community for supporting his 2016 presidential election. Lim said this was “due to our knowing what he had done in Davao City and how he did not extort money from entrepreneurs, this is accurate, he was indeed an outstanding & respected Mayor.”

“We at FFCCCII are hopeful that government and and all sectors can unite to continue reforms, accelerate vaccine program & work hard to revive our Philippine economy," the statement concluded.