Presidential bets court business votes

Published November 18, 2021, 3:51 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Two presidential candidates said they would prioritize rebuilding trust and confidence in the government while one vowed to put in jail corrupt government officials and others seek to pursue the policies of the current Duterte administration to move the domestic economy forward before the 47th Philippine Business Conference (PBC), the largest annual gathering of businessmen in the country.


Five candidates — Vice-President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao and Bong Go, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno – participated in the “Presidentiables Forum” at the 47th PBC & Expo to present their platforms and address issues of the economy.

At the closing of the two-day business conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President Duterte also delivered a one-minute address where he expressed hope for the PBC to bring renewed hope and inspiration for many enterprising Filipinos to thrive in the business world.

Meantime, at the “Presidentiables Forum”, presidential candidate Robredo laid down the specifics of her administration first 100 days in office. Foremost, Robredo seeks to control the pandemic and mitigating its impact on people’s lives and increase support for health workers, capacitating hospitals, and making testing accessible to all.

To do this, Robredo laid down her plan to allot P216 billion for “ayuda” to protect families from hunger and provide for their needs.

“All of this can be done by: Rebuilding trust in institutions and restoring confidence in the government,” she said.

In addition, she would also set aside at least P100 billion for a stimulus package for critically-impacted MSMEs, which are the driving force of the economy.

She would also increase the availability of credit to micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and reduce interest rates on loans, as well as extend grace periods.

Robredo said she would work to allow internet service providers to operate without Congressional franchises.

She also vowed to remove telcos as a utility to spur investment and

ensure access to Philippine satellite for wider coverage.

Once elected as president, the current vice-president said she will work toward self-sufficiency and food security to protect consumers from volatility of food prices.

This means investing in blue industries: aquaculture, maritime transport, and shipbuilding – as these provide huge employment potential.

She would also address high power rates, slow communications, and poor facilities because these are the main hindrance to foreign investors.

Robredo also vowed to invest in infrastructure to help local industries innovate.

Similarly, Lacson said he would lay the foundation for a clean government to earn the trust of the people.

To do this, Lacson said he will lead the way by signing a waiver of his rights in the Bank Secrecy Law on the first day of presidency and encourage all the Members of the Cabinet to the same.

Among his first agenda in office is recovery in health and economic sectors.

He vowed to fully fund existing gaps to fully implement the Universal Healthcare Act – free vaccines, free testing and treatment.

He would also pursue recovery of MSMEs through various viable mechanisms, including fiscal stimulus package, foreclosure moratoriums, lower interest, and bigger loan programs form state-run financial institutions.

Lacson said he would push for a vigorous “Made in the Philippines” campaign to driver market to buy locally produced products and services.

Under his presidency, Lacson said the government will prioritize local contractors and manufacturers in procurement as he vowed to funnel the budget (PS-DBM) to local business instead of favored Chinese traders.

He would also implement cash for work program to provide labor force with cash assistance for jobs, promote paid internship program.

Lacson also laid down his plans to rid the Department of Agriculture of corruption by implementing a clean up at the agency from top to bottom ranks. To stop reliance from importation, Lacson said he would expand opportunities of farmers and fisherfolks through government intervention.

The senator also called for abolition of overregulation to attract foreign investors into the country and ensure that economic reforms that will make us globally competitive. He also committed to property valuation and assessment reform.

Candidate Pacquiao said he would put in jail corrupt government officials as part of his economic recovery strategy. He said “Madaming matalino pero ginagamit ang talino sa pagnanakaw.”

In addition, he would work to lure in investors by lowering corporate income tax to 15 percent from the 25 percent to be comparative with other ASEAN neighbors. He would also address high cost of power, and improve internet connectivity.

Paquiao said government should not be relying only on tax collection. Strengthen non-tax revenue income.

For candidate Go, he promised to adopt the same stance of President Duterte in fighting corruption. Likewise, he commits to double the Malasakit Centers where every public hospital in the country must have a Malasakit Center.

Go sad he would also continue implementing the Negosyo Centers nationwide and the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso as well as the easy to access loan services of the Department of Trade and Industry to be able the recovery of MSMEs by 2022.

When elected, Manila Mayor Moreno said his first two years in office would be devoted to reinforcing the country’s health system to best cope with the pandemic.

He promised to reduce petroleum and electricity taxes. He would also focus on providing minimum basis needs of health, education, housing, jobs and livelihood.

To develop the countryside, Moreno said local government units must partner with government financial institutions to securitize future windfall earnings on account of the Mandanas ruling to assist and extend financial assistance to MSMEs with zero interest.