Drilon to DTI Secretary Lopez: Am I dreaming?

Published September 28, 2021, 5:04 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Tuesday grilled Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez for painting in his one-hour budget presentation that all is well in the country.

Drilon said the real picture is in the reverse.

On hearing Lopez, Drilon said he felt that he was not in the Philippines because the economy is very good as described by Lopez. The DTI sought a P23.7 billion for 2022.

Drilon said he was disappointed because Lopez appeared to have sidestepped the real issue which is the real economic difficulties the Philippines is facing now.

‘’My impression is Secretary Lopez is that you do not give us the real score in so far as the industry is concerned, given the beautiful picture who painted but you find it hard to give us specifics,’’ he pointed out.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Lopez said there were 1.5 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) registered and this rose to 1.7 million in 2020 and two million in 2021.

There were closures and registrations in these periods because of community quarantine lockdowns, he explained.

Lopez said that 76,000 businesses or four percent that closed down but could not give the numbers of employees that lost their jobs.

Drilon asked Lopez to give the Senate a true picture of the economy and the status of the business sector.

Lopez said the numbers of the jobless is the unregistered informal sector is counted.

He explained that the informal sector could reach six million and ‘’that is where some of the bad numbers are coming from/’’

Electronics is one segment of the economy that posted a positive six percent. This is followed by mineral products and bananas.

The products that posted negative were woodcraft, furniture, coconut oil, apparel, copper concentrates, iron and steel, shrimps and prawns, fine jewelry, pineapple and pineapple products

‘’It is quite obvious that apparently you are not prepared to make this kind of report, this data is the real picture of the economy. I must express my disappointment. You glossed over the problem of the economy we face today,’’ he added.

Earlier, Senator Imee Marcos filed a measure seeking the dissolution of the Philippine Investment and Trading Corporation (PITC) because it ‘’hoarded’’ P33 billion in funds of various government agencies designed for the importation of supplies. PITC is under DTI.

Lopez said this was brought down to P31.5 billion in December 2020.

Last July 31, according to Lopez, the figure went down to P22 billion.